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Pili Nuts: A Superfood Loved by Vegans Worldwide


Get to know a superfood that grows locally in the Philippines - the pili nut. If you're a meat-lover who wonders where vegans or vegetarians get their recommended dose of protein from their meatless diet, then one answer is the pili nut. Unfortunately, pili nuts are only found in some tropical countries. Fortunately, the Philippines is one of them.

Vegans and health buffs here and from other countries have fallen in love with this nut from Bicol province. Other than being a good source of protein, there are more reasons to include this superfood in your diet, vegan or not.


At the mention of pili nut, Filipinos almost automatically think of Mayon Volcano and associate the rich, creamy and buttery flavoured nut to it. Foreign tourists may find the name strange because pili nut is said to be native to the Philippines, but once they get to taste it, the flavour tends to stick to the taste buds pleasantly and make them looking for more.

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In fact, the pili nut often serves to introduce Bicolandia to tourists so that curiosity makes them want to go there and find out more about its origin. Bicol is home to the pili nut, in particular Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes and Sorsogon. And once there, they discover how pili trees naturally abound and probably marvel at the tall and hard rainforest trees that tower to as high as 50 meters.


Canarium ovatum is the scientific name for the pili tree, source of the pili nut.

The nut itself grows to as long as 2 ½-inches and with a ¾-inch diameter thickness. Pili has a hard wooden shell with pointed ends. When you crack it open, you will find a creamy white nut inside. Some eat it raw but experts say it’s best eaten when cooked.

Other regions in the Philippines have learned to cultivate the tree. It’s also found in northern Cordillera and in central and western Visayas. But of course, the best variety still hails from Bicol.

Well, actually one can find pili nut products almost anywhere in the country--even in Metro Manila. But most of them do not do justice to the native delicious qualities of pili nut grown in Bicol. It is good to visit Bicol and intently search for the real thing to find out for oneself why anyone can easily fall in love with this nut.

Healthwise, just look at its benefits: It has 8 essential amino acids that helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and develop muscle tissues. It promotes brain, skin and bone health. The components of pili can detoxify the kidneys. Pili also supports nerve health with its B-6 supply and high content of magnesium. Among all the nut varieties, pili nut has the highest magnesium level. It also contains omega-3 fatty acid for heart and brain health. More notable, pili is rich in protein, iron and potassium. It is a good source of energy due to its high calorie and fat content but is still a healthy source of polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat which are “good fats” for the heart when taken in moderate amount. What more could one ask for?

Aside from enjoying the nut as it is, it also comes in different pastry forms. The popular one is the candied pili nut in (or coated with caramel or honey). It is also great when mixed in chocolates. Some chefs mix it in food dishes to make the dish extra special.


Yummy pili nuts glazed with sugar (Photo by Chito L. Aguilar)


A famous ‘pasalubong’ or gift  from travellers from Bicol province - Pili nuts have been manufactured for export quality. Since it is loaded with healthy components, it is a reliable source of nutrients and energy for hikers and runners.

Enjoy the sweet life with the healthy superfood from the Philippines -- the pili!

Author: Expatch Editorial Team


Photo source:

Pili with shells -

All other photos -  1.   |   2.


Health benefits fo the pili nut –



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