Pronounced “peel-ey,” this nut is native to tropical Southeast Asian countries, northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. It grows from a tall, evergreen tree (Canarium ovatum) belonging to the same family as frankincense and myrrh. Traditionally, it’s cultivated for commercial use in the volcanic soils of the Philippines. The raw nuts have a flavor similar to toasted pumpkin seeds, and when roasted resemble a mixture of macadamia and pine nuts in texture and flavor. In fact, these nuts are so delectable they are most commonly incorporated into traditional Malaysian baked goods, sweets, chocolate and ice cream! Many parts of the tree are edible including the young shoots and fruit pulp. These tasty nuts can also be pressed for their oil content.
Nutritionally, Pili’s include high amounts of manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and of course, my favorite — healthy fats. One cup of nuts yields 13 grams of protein including all eight essential amino acids making this nut a complete protein source. They are high in antioxidants which devour free radicals, those harmful molecules in the body that contribute to early aging processes and disease formation. They are excellent for reducing inflammatory-related conditions such as arthritis and gout as well as helping to limit the effects of oxidative stress.
Research now shows links between systemic inflammation and depression too, so incorporating these nuts into a diet rich in protein and healthy fats could potentially improve mental health, cognitive function, and mood. Improving digestion and promoting intestinal wellness are other benefits of this high-fiber food as are cardio-protective effects due to their omega-3 fatty acids.
The fiber naturally found in Pili nuts provides an excellent source fuel for your healthy gut bacteria and enhances your efficiency of nutrient uptake, maximizing the nutritional value of your food.
They are extremely high in magnesium, offering 23% of the daily value per serving, which offers a plethora of benefits from improved sleep to better bone health. Mineral deficiencies are responsible for a host of health-related issues including PMS, muscle cramping, brain fog, and low energy. Pili nuts really pack a punch when it comes to bioavailable vitamins and minerals. This is a great food source for people struggling to stabilize blood sugar due to the high-fat content and nutrient panel. The result of better blood sugar regulation includes weight loss, optimum stress response, increased energy and diabetes prevention when incorporated with other lifestyle factors.
This food is easy to incorporate into your eating habits, as they can be substituted in any recipe that includes nuts or seeds. Milks, flours, pates, sauces, breakfast bars — the creative possibilities are endless! Below is a starter list of ways to enjoy this wonderful nut. For linked recipes, simply substitute Pili for the nut or seed listed.
Best practice is to store Pili nuts in a refrigerator where they will remain viable for a year. Otherwise, storing them in glass in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or pantry will provide three to four months of shelf stability. Buying raw is always ideal, as roasted nuts often arrive at your doorstep with less nutritional vibrancy. The nuts are typically de-shelled by the distributor and will arrive with a thin, brown skin that can be blanched to remove if desired. Finally, make sure you are buying from an organic, reputable company.
Exploring and tasting new foods, especially ones as adaptable as Pili nuts, truly brings joy to the act of nourishing ourselves. Discovering unique flavors keeps us motivated to optimize our diet, nutrition and wellness status. Have fun in your exploration of this versatile nut!