Everything You Wanted To Know About Pili Nuts


You may have been hearing a lot of talk lately about a nutritious little nut called a pili nut. If you find yourself asking what is a pili nut and where does it come from, then this article will be of interest to you since we explain everything you want to know about the pili nut including, what it is, where it comes from, and how it tastes and what you can do with it. So, lets get started.

What is A Pili Nut?

Actually, a Pili nut isn't a nut at all. It is actually a kernel or a seed that is buried deep inside the Pili fruit, which is a fruit that grows on a Canarum Ovatum tree. Pili trees grow in rich volcanic soil and can grow to be over 100 years old and up to 35 meter high. The trees start to bear fruit around 6 years old and a tree can produce an economic yield of pili nuts when it reaches around the age of 10 years old. Once harvested and shelled the pili nut can be stored in shade for up to a year without losing any of its taste or nutritional value.

A pili tree that is 5 or 6 years old produces somewhere between 1000 and 2000 nuts a year and the older the tree the more nuts the tree produces.

Traditions and history of Pili Nuts

Pili trees are native to Southeast Asia, Papua, New Guinea and Northern Australia. Commercial Pili nuts are normally harvested from the rainforests surrounding Mt. Bulusan in the Sorsogon province of the Bicol region of the Philippines. Through more and more people planting these nut trees the amount of Pili trees has grown. Over the last few years Pili nuts trees have started being planted for commercial use in other parts in the Philippines.

These regions are subject to frequent typhoons, which tend to help ripen the fruit faster. The bashing of the trees from the elements helps the plant to achieve a correct balance of carbon and nitrogen – thereby encouraging the pili trees to produce more flowers and fruits during the next fruiting season.

Traditionally the pili nut is used in a number of different ways. It is eaten raw or roasted. It is roasted and coated in brown and refined sugar and made into candy. It is used in cakes, cookies, muffins, and ice cream. The roasted kernels are also used to make chocolate. It is even used mixed with sweet potatoes in making a pudding.

Pili fruit or pulp is eaten throughout the Bicol Region in Sorsogon. One of the favorite Pili dishes is a dish called Nilantang Pili. It is made by soaking the ripe fruit in lukewarm water for 15 to 20 minutes (which cooks the fruit). The black skin is then removed from the fruit and the fiberous meat of the fruit is then dipped into a salted fish sauce called “Patis". This dish is traditionally eaten with rice and makes a tasty meal that the people of Sorsogon loves. The remains of the Nilantang is the the oval shaped pointed end of pili shell, also called “Lagting” in the local dialect.

In the Philippines every part of the Pili is used. The Pili kernel is used to make oil, salad dressings, and even cosmetics. The resin is used for making lacquer and varnish adhesive. The trunks of these trees are use in making furniture and wood planks.

In fact for the people of Sorsogon, the Pili fruit and nut have become so important that a yearly Pili festival was established in 2000. This festival gives the residents of Sorsogon and visitors alike the chance to celebrate this wonderful fruit and nut and its importance to the region.

How are Pili Nuts Harvested

Pili fruit can be harvested all year around, however harvesting is generally from May to October, peaking in June to August, and requires several pickings.

Pili fruits and nuts are not harvested by commercial machinery. Instead they are hand harvested by local villagers who harvest the fruit by climbing up the trees. They then either use a stick to thrash the fruiting branches or shake these branches to unloosen the ripe fruit onto the ground where it is collected by other villagers.

The fruit is the typically boiled to remove the outer flesh, exposing the inner shell. The nut is then extracted by cracking the shell with a ‘bolo’ a sharp machete. Each shell has to be cracked by hand to avoid damaging the nut inside it.

Harvesting these nuts is a time and labor intensive process since everything is done by hand. Harvesting these nuts on a large commercial scale takes a lot of people and a lot of work, but provides employment for many of the local village communities.

The Philippines has a monopoly on commercial pili nuts and their nuts are sold in various places around the world including Australia, Guam, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, China, UK, Korea, Singapore, Hawaii, Germany, France and the US.

What Do Pili Nuts Taste Like?

What Pili nuts taste like will depend on who you ask. Some people claim that raw Pili nuts taste a good deal like roasted pumpkin seeds and when deep fried or roasted they taste like roasted pine nuts. Other people compare the taste of Pili nuts to a cross between Brazil and Macadamia nuts with a richer and more buttery taste.

These nuts have the highest fat and lowest carbohydrates of any nut. Most people like the taste of Pili nuts and enjoy eating them and find that these nuts can be used in a number of different ways.

What is the Nutritional Profile of the Pili Nut?

It is claimed that Pili nuts are extremely nutritional and judging by the nutritional profile of Pili nuts this claim is certainly true. These nuts are a primary source of saturated and monounsaturated fats. They are also loaded with a number of vitamins and minerals.

Here is a look at the nutritional facts for 100 grams of pili nuts.

  • 719 calories

  • 398g of carbohydrates

  • 79.6g of fat (31.2g from saturated fats, 37.2g of monounsaturated fats, and 7.6g of polyunsaturated fats

  • 10.8g of proteins.

Vitamins per 100 grams of Pili Nuts (Daily Value)

  • 79% Thiamin (B1)

  • 37% Vitamin B6

  • 15% Folate

  • 8% Riboflavin (B2)

  • Niacin 3%

  • Vitamin C 1%

  • Vitamin A 0.2%

Minerals per 100 grams of Pili Nuts (Daily Value)

  • Manganese 110%

  • Magnesium 85%

  • Phosphorus 82%

  • Copper 48%

  • Zinc 31%

  • Iron 27%

  • Calcium 15%

  • Potassium 11%

  • Sodium 0.1%

Besides the listed nutrients Pili nuts also contain Vitamin E, all 8 amino acids and some omega 3 fatty acids. As you can see from this Pili nut nutritional profile this nut offers a wide range of vitamin and minerals that your body needs to function its very best. In addition, Pili nuts are high in fiber, which aids in digestion and helps to prevent hunger and thus overeating. These Pili nuts are great for anyone, but are a great benefit to those on a keto or any weight loss diet.

What are the Benefits of Pili Nuts

Pili nuts offer many healthy benefits when incorporated as part of a healthy diet. Here is a look at some of those benefits.

(1) Antioxidant Activity

Pili nuts are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are important to your health and can reduce the risk of a number of serious disease and conditions. Antioxidants can reduce you risk of most types of cancers as well as diabetes. Antioxidants are nutrients like vitamin E and C which are both contained in Pili nuts.

When cells use oxygen they produce a bi-product called free radicals. These free radicals can damage cells. Antioxidants work as free radical hunters finding free radicals and repairing the damage to the cells done by the free radicals.

In addition vitamin C can also help to fight off infections and may even help prevent colds or help your recover faster once you get a cold.

(2) Aids Digestion

Pili nuts are a high source of fiber and your body needs fiber for a number of different ways. First fiber aids in digestion and can help your body overcome a number of digestive problems. Fiber helps to stimulate your digestive tract and helps to prevent constipation. Fiber also makes it easier for the body to digest other nutrients so you get more value out of the food you eat and maintain better health.

(3) Reduces Inflammation in the Body

Pili nuts provide the right nutrition to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body can result in a number of life threatening conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. By reducing inflammation in the body you can also reduce your risk of these diseases.

In addition, inflammation in the body can result in conditions such as arthritis and cognitive conditions.

When Pili nuts reduce body inflammation these nuts may prevent or delay the onset of both arthritis and cognitive conditions allowing your live a longer and healthier life.

(4) Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Pili nuts are also a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are good for helping your maintain or control cholesterol levels, which in turn can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It may also help to reduce blood pressure and help control diabetes.

In addition, it is believed that Omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce the pain and inflammation from arthritis and may even help slow the onset or progression of Alzheimer's. Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to help keep your skin and hair healthy as well.

Combined with the inflammation reducing qualities of Pili nuts Omega 3 fatty acids can help to improve cognitive function, focus and concentration.

(5) May Help Manage Blood Glucose Levels

Pili nuts contain all 8 amino acids which makes them a complete protein and may help to balance blood sugar levels preventing those sugar spikes and drops. This may help insulin to be released at the right rate therefore, helping people have better control over their diabetes.

(6) The Wide Range of Minerals in Pili Nuts May Aid Our Bone Health

As a person gets older their bones get weaker and more brittle leading to condition known as Osteoporosis. Pili nuts contain high quantities of Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Calcium all which are necessary for bone health especially as we begin to age. Making Pili nuts part of a healthy diet while your are younger may help to prevent or slow the progression of Osteoporosis in the future by building stronger muscles and bones.

(7) Great Source of Iron

Pili nuts are great source of iron and can help people who struggle with anemia. Anemia can make a person feel constantly tired and if left untreated can lead to heart failure. Pili nuts can add iron to your system and aid in the making of hemoglobin.

(8) Weight Loss

Although Pili nuts tend to be high in calories, snacking on a few of these nuts during the day when you are feeling hungry will not only keep those hunger pangs at bay and help prevent you from reaching for those sugary carbohydrates, they may also make it possible for you to consume less calories over the course of the day. Combined with a healthy weight loss diet and proper exercise, Pili nuts can help you to reach your weight loss goals.

(9) A Great Energy Booster

pili nuts offer the right blend of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals to which can give you a prolonged boost of energy to help get through the day feeling alert and invigorated. Unlike those sugary snacks that give a short boost of energy followed by a feeling of exhaustion, Pili nuts are great for keeping your energy levels on a more even keel.

(10) Pili Nuts can Aid Better Sleep

People who suffer from insomnia often have that condition treated using magnesium. Pili nuts have the highest level of magnesium of any nut known to man. These nuts are a great natural source of magnesium, which may help people with insomnia or other sleep disorder get a better nights sleep.

How to Incorporate Pili Nuts as Part of a Healthy Diet

Pili nuts are a great addition to any healthy diet and these nuts also fit well with any almost any type of diet a person uses including the keto diet, Paleo diet, vegans, vegetarians, or those who eat gluten free. Here are various ways to add pili nuts into your diet.

(1) Raw Sprouted Pili Nuts

Raw sprouted pili nuts are perfect for eating as a snack by themselves or mixing with other nuts, dried fruits etc and making a trail mix. Sprouted Pili nuts are better raw as they contains more nutrients that those that are roasted, and they also have a wonderful buttery flavor that makes them extreme versatile.

(2) Great Addition to Salads

Raw Pili nuts make great additions to various types of salads including toss salad and even chicken salad. Not only do these nuts add a nice crunch to various salads, they also add a great flavor making boring salads a little less boring.

Pili nuts are also great in broccoli salads and a dozen other types of salads as well. Mix pili nuts with bacon bits and feta cheese to make a crumble for any type of lettuce salad, which will make any salad more flavorful and exciting.

(3) Add Pili Nuts to Your Homemade Pesto

Pesto is great on pasta and can even be used as a topping on fish or chicken. Pestos are made using fresh herbs, a healthy oil, garlic, cheese, sea salt and a some type of nut or seed. Pili nuts make a great addition to your homemade pesto replacing whatever other type of type nut you would normally use.

(4) Add to Your Favorite Smoothies

You can also try grinding up pili nuts into a fine powder and adding them to your favorite smoothie. By adding Pili nuts to your smoothie will add healthy fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals to your morning smoothie, which may help your maintain your energy levels through out your entire morning.

(5) Pili Nut Butter on Toast

Another great way of enjoying Pili nuts for breakfast is by adding a bit of pili nut butter to your morning toast. Pili nut butter is both tasty and easy to spread.

(6) Pili Nut Milk

If you like nut milk you can make your own Pili nut milk to enjoy drinking or using in various recipes.

Pili nuts can also be used in and as a topping for muffins or to make a sweet pudding using sweet potatoes and condensed milk.

In addition, you can roast pili nuts with various toppings such as cinnamon sugar, turmeric, and other seasonings for snacks or to add to those party mixes for the holidays.

Storing Pili Nuts

Pili nuts are somewhat expensive and so you will want to store your nuts in the refrigerator so that they will remain viable for up to a year. When stored in cabinet in a cool dark space, these nuts will last up to 3 or 4 months.

It is best to buy raw pili nuts as roasted nuts tend to have less nutritional value.

What to Look for When Buying Pili Nuts

When purchasing Pili nuts look for nuts that are ethically sourced and 100% organic. You want to purchase these nuts from a source that supports local Filipino workers and their families who work hard to bring you these nuts.

*images by Alma Gamil

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