Pistachio is a symbol of health, happiness and good fortune. Since ancient times, pistachio nuts have been admired for their delicious taste and health benefits. Even now, pistachios are often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year. Today, pistachios are considered as one of the world’s healthiest foods.
With love and care, Mother Nature put all good things in these nuts. Vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins found in pistachios help you to be healthy and happy.
Pistachios are a nutritional powerhouse
- Pistachios have phenomenal contents of vitamin B6. They are the best food source of vitamin B6: a 100-gram serving of pistachios has 1.7mg of vitamin B6, whereas 100g of salmon have 0.8mg. Pistachios are twice higher in B6 than salmon!
- Of all the popular nut varieties, pistachios have the highest concentration of iron.
- Relative to other tree nuts, pistachios have a lower amount of fat and calories but higher amounts of potassium, vitamin K, γ-tocopherol, and certain phytochemicals such as carotenoids and phytosterols.
- Pistachio nuts are the second best source, after almonds, of dietary fiber.
Also, pistachios are a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value or DV) of protein, dietary fiber, several dietary minerals and the B vitamins, and especially vitamin B6 at 131% DV. They are a good source (10–19% DV) of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Pistachios are naturally cholesterol-free and gluten-free.
6 Science-based health benefits of pistachios
Pistachios have phenomenal contents of vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient that our body cannot produce. Vitamin B6 serves as a coenzyme in some 100 enzyme reactions in amino acid, glucose and lipid metabolism. The liver is the site for vitamin B6 metabolism. B6 help maintain normal blood sugar levels: it is involved in the processes of converting stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose.
Pistachios improve hemoglobin production
Compared to other nuts, pistachios have the highest content of iron that is beneficial to your red blood cells production. Iron is an active part of haemoglobin that carries oxygen to all parts of your body. It is also responsible for the transfer of electrons. In the human body, the richest organs in iron are the liver and the spleen.
Pistachios have heart-healthy fats
In July 2003, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first qualified health claim specific to seeds lowering the risk of heart disease: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (42.5g) per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”.
Pistachios are rich in folate that boosts happy hormones productions
Folic acid, or simply folate, is a B9 vitamin, which is essential for synthesis of the “hormones of happiness.” Folates cannot be synthesized de novo or stored in the body. Therefore, folic acid has to be supplied through the diet on regular basis to meet the daily requirements. Folates occur naturally in many foods. Pistachios are naturally good sources of folate. In Canada, folic acid is added to all white flour, enriched pasta and cornmeal products. A lack of dietary folates can lead to folate deficiency, which can result in many health problems. Mental confusion, forgetfulness, mental depression, irritability, and behavioural disorders are among them.
Pistachios help lower high blood pressure
Many studies have suggested that pistachio consumption modestly lowers blood pressure. Several mechanisms for pistachios’ antihypertensive properties have been proposed. These mechanisms include pistachios’ high levels of the amino acid arginine (a precursor of the blood vessel dilating compound nitric oxide), high levels of phytosterols and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Pistachios are good for people with diabetes
Like other nuts, pistachios have a very low glycemic index (GI) due to their high unsaturated fat and protein content and relatively low carbohydrate content. Dieticians frequently recommend pistachios for people with insulin resistance such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The glycemic index represents the rise in a person’s blood sugar level two hours after consumption of the food. The GI is a number associated with the carbohydrates in a particular type of food that indicates the effect of these carbohydrates on a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) level.
- Foods with carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream tend to have a high GI (70 and above).
- Foods with carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, tend to have a low GI (55 or less). A lower glycemic response usually equates to a lower insulin demand and can improve long-term blood glucose control and blood lipids.
- The glycemic index for all nuts and seeds is very low (typically between 0-20).
Pistachios for vegans
Pistachios are one of the best food sources of vitamin B6. A 100-gram serving of pistachios has 1.7mg of vitamin B6, whereas 100g of salmon have 0.8mg. Pistachios are twice higher in B6 than salmon!
Pistachios for weight loss
Although pistachios are high in calories, many studies have provided strong evidence that their consumption is not associated with weight gain or obesity. Pistachios are a heart-healthy nut full of nutrients to benefit your weight loss plan. Plus it’s been shown that those who eat nuts feel fuller. If you are trying to lose weight, it makes sense to eat pistachios as part of a healthy diet.
- 29 Pistachios = 100 calories
- A 355ml Coca-Cola can = 140 calories.
Do the math!
How many pistachios can you eat per day?
One handful per day of pistachios is just right.
How many pistachios can you eat for 100 calories? Here’s what 100 calories of pistachios look like:
- pistachios, dry-roasted, unsalted – 29
- pistachios, oil-roasted, salted – 29
How to eat pistachios?
Easy! Just open the bag and start enjoying these tasty nuts. The pistachio kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted. If you have never tried baklava and Turkish delight with pistachios, you have to include them in your Bucket List.
Health risks of pistachios
- Beware of aflatoxin: If pistachios are of lower-quality, or have been not properly stored, they may become contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus which may produce carcinogenic substances called aflatoxins. Never eat pistachios where mold is evident!
- Weight gain: Pistachios are so delicious nuts that it’s very hard to stop on one handful a day, which is equal to 29 pistachios and 100 calories. However, if you go nuts with pistachios and eat a handful at a time, you can gain weight. It’s so easy to eat a full cup of pistachios at one sitting. But if you do so, you could consume close to 700 calories.
- Other health problems: Nuts are the one of the healthiest foods. But don’t go nuts with any nuts! Because eating too many nuts, including pistachios, may cause allergic reactions, digestive and kidney problems, high blood pressure.
Surprising facts about pistachios
- The pistachio tree, Pistacia vera, is a member of the cashew family with separate male and female trees.
- Each pistachio tree averages around 50 kilograms (110lb) of seeds, or around 50,000 nuts, every two years.
- Iran and the United States are the major producers of pistachios, together accounting for over 70% of the total world production
- Archaeology shows that pistachio seeds were a common food as early as 6750 BC
Pistachios have amazing natural healing power: they are phenomenally rich in vitamin B6 and a good source of heart-healthy fats; they improve hemoglobin and happy hormones production; they help lower high blood pressure and are good for people with diabetes.
Although pistachios are high in calories, many studies have provided strong evidence that their consumption is not associated with weight gain or obesity. If you are trying to lose weight, it makes sense to eat pistachios as part of a healthy diet.