Pine Seeds

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Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pines (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus). About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of great value as a human food. In Asia, two species are widely harvested, Korean Pine (Pinus koraiensis) in northeast Asia (the most important species in international trade), and Chilgoza Pine (Pinus gerardiana) in the western Himalaya.

Chilgoza Pine Nuts Health Benefits

Chilgozas’ ( also spelled variously as Chile Ghoza, Chilghoza, Chilgoja, Chulghoza) have tremendous nutritional and medicinal value. Because of their health benefits, they are exported all over the world. Chilgoza nut have been evaluated to contain 7.5% moisture, 16% protein, 22% carbohydrate, 2% fibers, 50% fatty material which is mixture of palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids and about 3% minerals having mainly calcium, phosphorus and iron. It also contain vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). All these constituents and nutrients are vital for our body and play an important role in prevention of several diseases. The health benefits of each of them are described below.

Chilgoza is a boon for all those who wish to reduce weight fast or are on dieting. Chilgoza is known to be the only source of pinoleic acid that stimulates the hormones that suppresses appetite. A small quantity of chilgoza can provide enough pinoleic acid to stimulate the intestines to produce CCK hormones. These hormones subdue the feeling of hunger, results in slower rate of digestion and a feeling of fullness.

Chilgoza is the only nut with highest concentration of oleic acid. Oleic acid is a mono-saturated fat that helps the liver to eliminate harmful triglycerides from the body.

Chilgozas’ contain the same mono-saturated fats as in olive oil and are very good for heart. They also prevent heart attacks by reducing cholesterol and protecting arteries from damage.

Chilgoza also serves as a good antioxidant that protects the cells from damage due to free radicals.

Chilgozas’ are a rich source of iron that boosts hemoglobin level of the blood.

Magnesium in Chilgozas’ helps in reliving muscle cramps, fatigue and tension. Zinc in chilgoza gives immunity against infections.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) contained in chilgoza is good for growth and the production of red blood cells. It keeps skin and hair healthy. It aids in functioning of liver and enhances the vision while reducing the risks of cataracts.

Vitamin B3, (niacin) contained in chilgoza improves the sex hormones and cortisone, thyroxin and insulin levels in the body and also promotes a sense of well-being. It is also a memory booster. It also helps in lowering blood pressure and promotes the flow of blood in the body.

Vitamin A and E in chilgozas’ are good for eyes and skin.

Despite being such a valuable nut, Chilgoza pine tree is categorized as a threatened species. Excessive cutting for use as fuel and grazing by cattle with little efforts towards regeneration of this pine tree has taken this pine species to the verge of its extinction. The Himachal Pradesh State Forest Department is trying artificial regeneration of Chilgoza Pine at many places. Several educational, replantation, and conservational plans for this tree are being carried out in India and in the Suleiman mountain range of Pakistan.

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