April 6, 2006

Pine Nut Ingredient Helps Suppress Appetite

By Charnicia Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adding more pine nuts to your diet may help you lose weight, results of a new study suggest. The findings show that a compound in Korean pine tree nuts acts as an appetite suppressant.

"Health ingredients such as pine nut lipids from natural origins can help with a weight management program by producing a feeling of fullness, potentially allowing for one to consume less calories and thus impact weight loss," Dr. Jennifer L. Causey, of Idaho-based Lipid Nutrition, a specialty health ingredient company, told Reuters Health.

Her findings were presented during last week's annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Causey investigated the effect of commercially produced pine nut oil in 18 overweight women. These volunteers were randomly divided into a group that received gel capsules containing either Lipid Nutrition's PinnoThin pine oil product or olive oil, before eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast of white bread and orange marmalade.

One week later the researchers repeated the experiment, giving pine nut oil-containing capsules to the women who originally consumed olive oil and vice versa.

The women's hormone levels were measured at regular 30-minute intervals for two hours and then again at three and four hours after they took the capsules.

In general, the researchers found the oil in the pine nuts appeared to promote the release of cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), two gastrointestinal hormones that are known to send "satiety signals" - i.e. signals that the stomach is feeling full - to the brain.

After taking the pine nut oil-containing capsules, the women reported a lower desire to eat and a desire to eat less food during their next meal than they did after consuming the olive oil supplements.

Korean pine nut oil "was more effective at producing satiety and lessening desire to eat than the olive oil placebo," Causey said.

Pine nuts in general are a good source of protein and healthy fats, particularly for vegetarians, Causey noted, but the Korean pine nut is unique in that it contains much higher levels of the healthy polyunsaturated fats than do other nuts.