If you’re snacking on a bag of cocktail mix now, you’d want to put it down now because there’s something that might actually be more worth your tummy real estate. Pili nuts may not be as well-known as their almond, cashew and macadamia cousins, but are far superior in all departments.

Before you think this is another one of those healthy superfood suggestions that taste like stale cardboard, pili nuts are actually extremely rich and buttery tasting —like macadamias, but on steroids. Native to the volcanic soils of the Philippines, they can also be found in some parts of Northern Australia, where evergreen Pili trees are cultivated for their nuts. You’ll recognise them easily from their long, teardrop shape, and because they can be kept for long periods of time, they’re an important source of nutrients for the indigenous people in the Eastern tropics and Pacific Island regions.

But the best thing about the pili nut is its impressive nutritional profile. Because it contains all amino acids, it functions as a complete protein which is great for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It also has the highest magnesium content of any nut, and a single serving can fulfil your daily copper and manganese requirements too.

Still, pili nuts remain one of the world’s best kept secrets, though not for long. Here are 5 reasons why you need to put away your almonds and start hunting down these healthy morsels of snacks.

1
Sleeping aid

A vital component of serotonin and other relaxing hormones that induce sleepiness and relaxation, magnesium treats symptoms of insomnia and restlessness in the most natural way possible. Pili nuts contain the highest magnesium content of any nut, and make an excellent and wholesome way to get some good shut-eye at night.

2
Rich in protein

Some foods contain only one or two amino acids, but because pili nuts are nutritionally superior, they contain all eight essential amino acids, which are used by the body for many purposes, including building and maintaining muscle tissue. The high protein content will also leave you satiated for longer, so you don’t reach out for that cookie mid-day.

3
Diabetic aid

The amino acids don’t just help you stay trim, they’re also particularly useful for diabetics and those at high risk of having diabetes. Besides balancing blood glucose levels, they maintain the body’s insulin release at appropriate times and amounts, preventing dangerous peaks that might be detrimental to diabetic patients.

4
Cholesterol Balance

It’s no secret that nuts contain fat. However, the high fat content in pili nuts are in fact omega-3 fatty acids, which can help balance cholesterol levels and eliminate excess omega-6 fatty acids, which, in high amounts, can raise blood pressure and the formation of blood clots. In essence, you’re lowering your risk of fatal heart conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

5
Stay sharp

Said omega-3 fatty acids are also responsible for reducing inflammation in neural pathways, which keep you sharp and focused throughout the day (and years). Because of their remarkable antioxidant content, pili nuts also prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia by eliminating oxidative stress that speeds up neural degeneration.

Shatricia Nair
Deputy Editor
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.