Pine nut oil was traditionally consumed in pre-revolutionary Russia to cure stomach and intestinal problems. Because of its low smoke point, pine nut oil is not typically used in cooking, but added as a dressing to prepared food. Health benefits associated with pine nut oil range from alleviating the pain of stomach ulcers to lowering dieters' appetite. Pine nut oil is only a complementary therapy, and should not be considered as an alternative to conventional medical treatment for any specific health problem.
The perceived benefits of pine nut oil in helping digestive disorders stem from the oil's high concentration of antioxidants. According to a 2008 study published in the journal Food Chemistry, pine nut oil contains antioxidants which are believed to mop up free radicals in the body. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that antioxidants potentially prevent free radicals and oxidation damaging the body tissues and arteries.
A study of Korean pine nut oil in 2004 investigated the possibility that pine nut oil may have the ability to lower LDL levels in the human body. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is also known as "bad cholesterol" due to its implication in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems. The 2004 study, which was carried out by Korean scientists and published in the journal "Lipids," found that the pinolenic acid found in pine nut oil, when concentrated, had the effect of lowering LDL. It is believed this effect was due to pinolenic acid stimulating the liver to uptake greater quantities of LDL. It should be noted that this study used a concentrate derived from pine nut oil, and not raw or unprocessed pine nut oil that would be used in food.
A 2008 study carried out by a team of researchers working for the Dutch company, Lipid Nutrition, was published in the journal "Lipids in Health and Disease." The study found that Korean pine nut oil acted as an appetite suppressant when administered to women who were both post-menopausal and clinically overweight. This study concluded that pine nut oil could work to reduce overall food intake through increasing so-called satiety hormones which communicate a sense of physical fullness to the individual.
- "Lipids;" Selective Increase in Pinolenic Acid (all-cis-5,9,12-18:3) in Korean Pine Nut Oil by Crystallization and its Effect on LDL-Receptor Activity; J.W. Lee et al.; 2004
- "Lipids in Health and Disease;" The Effect of Korean Pine Nut Oil on In Vitro CCK Release, on Appetite Sensations and on Gut Hormones in Post-Menopausal Overweight Women; W.J. Pasman; 2008