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What Is Pinolenic Acid?

By Owen Bond

Pinolenic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid found exclusively in pine nut oil. It is not considered an essential fatty acid, but it is very biologically active in your body and can relieve the deficiency symptoms of essential fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. Pinolenic acid has become popular in recent years because of its ability to suppress hunger and help with weight loss. Consulting with your primary care physician before embarking on a supplement regimen is always recommended.

Pinolenic Acid in Pine Nuts

Pinolenic acid is found in all varieties of pine nuts and their oils, but not in any other plant species. According to “Nutritional Sciences,” the richest source of pinolenic acid is the oil pressed from Siberian pine nuts, which contain up to 27 percent of the fatty acid. The biological properties of pinolenic acid are the primary reason why Siberians use the pine nut as a nutrient-rich food and an herbal folk remedy. The Korean pine nut is another good source of pinolenic acid, with quantities ranging up to 20 percent.

Biochemistry of Pinolenic Acid

Pinolenic acid is an isomer, or similar positional molecule, to GLA, which is an omega-6 fatty acid with well-established health benefits. Pinolenic acid is unique in that it is able to curb your appetite by triggering two hormones known to be primary hunger suppressants, CCK and GLP-1, as cited in "Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Metabolism." Pinolenic acid may also display cholesterol-lowering properties by triggering the uptake of harmful LDL cholesterol in your liver.

Suppressing Appetite

Suppressing appetite is an important factor in maintaining a low-calorie diet and losing weight. In a paper presented at the 2006 American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition, Dr. J.L. Causey related that supplementation of pinolenic acid suppressed appetite in overweight women and led to an average reduced food intake of 37 percent. In the study, women were given either 3 g of pinolenic acid or a placebo immediately before eating breakfast. Scientists drew blood at intervals of four hours and measured for hormones associated with hunger and satiety, and they found elevated levels of CCK and GLP-1. By triggering CCK, pinolenic acid is able to slow the emptying of food from your stomach and promote a feeling of fullness. By triggering GLP-1, it is able to slow down the absorption of food in the gut, which also promotes fullness and limits the desire to eat more.

Reducing LDL Cholesterol

A study published in a 2004 edition of the journal “Lipids” found that pinolenic acid supplementation lowers blood cholesterol levels by enhancing the uptake of detrimental LDL cholesterol by liver cells. Further, high GLP-1 levels are associated with reducing both blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, which may be helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease. However, pinolenic acid is not considered a valid treatment option for high cholesterol by the medical community, so you should consult with your doctor before starting a supplementation regimen.

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