Pistachios have been around for thousands of years, and it’s easy to see why people loved them then and continue to love them now. They are tasty and great in salads or alone as a snack, but they also provide numerous health benefits that can make your life better in ways you might not expect. They are packed with all the essential amino acids, healthy fats, fiber, minerals, vitamins like vitamin A and B6, and antioxidants, all of which play an important role in promoting good health. Here are ten surprising pistachio benefits that can help you live longer, look better, and stay healthier overall.
Pistachio Benefits for Better Health
1. They are high in nutrients
Pistachios are nutrient-dense nuts with an ounce (28 grams) of raw pistachios providing:
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Calories: 159
- Fat:9 grams
- Protein:7 grams
- Carbohydrates:7 grams
- Vitamin B6:5 milligrams, or 25 percent of your daily requirement
- Thiamine:3 milligrams, or 20 percent of your daily requirement
- Copper:4 milligrams, or 20 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 291 milligrams, or 8.3 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 34 milligrams, or 8.5 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron:1 milligrams, or 6.1 percent of the daily requirement
- Zinc:6 milligrams, or 4 percent of the daily requirement
- Folate: 14 micrograms, or 3,5 percent of the daily requirement
- Calcium: 30 milligrams, or 3 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin A: 146 international units, or 2.9 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 1,6 milligrams, or 2.7 of the daily requirement
- Vitamin E:8 milligrams, or 2.7 percent of the daily requirement
- Niacin:4 milligrams, or 2 percent of the daily requirement.
2. They are low in calories
If looking for low-calorie nuts for a snack or for any other reason, pistachios could be all you need. With an ounce providing 159 calories, pistachios beat other nuts like walnuts which contain 185 calories per ounce.
3. High in antioxidants
Antioxidants are essential to maintain a healthy body and a strong immune system. They help neutralize free radicals in the body that may cause cell damage and increase your risk of various health conditions.
Pistachios are specifically high in two types of antioxidants, namely polyphenols and tocopherols, both of which may help the body fight against heart disease and cancer.
4. High in protein
Pistachios are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids needed in the body. Essential means the body cannot produce them, and they have to be obtained from the diet.
With 21 percent of their weight being protein, pistachios are the second-highest source of protein in nuts after almonds. However, they have the highest ratio of essential amino acids compared to other nuts like walnuts, pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts.
A single serving of pistachios can give you almost 6 grams of protein. This makes it a great protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
5. Promote a healthy digestive system
Pistachios are high in fiber which promotes a healthy digestive system by aiding digestion and preventing constipation.
Pistachios also contain prebiotics, a type of fiber that feeds your good gut bacteria. This promotes their population and diversity. Increased good gut bacteria has been shown to level out the harmful ones, improve digestive health, boost immunity, fight inflammation, and lower the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
6. May promote healthy blood vessels
Healthy blood vessels are essential to ensure a smooth flow of blood throughout the body.
Pistachios contain L-arginine, an amino acid that is converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a compound that helps dilate and relax your blood vessel walls, thus increasing blood flow and promoting blood vessel functions.
In another study involving patients with mild dyslipidemia, consuming 1.5 ounces of pistachios for 3 months improved endothelial function and reduced arterial stiffness.
7. May reduce cholesterol
Regular consumption of pistachios may lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and lower the risk for heart disease.
They have been shown to protect the heart by lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL).
In a study conducted on individuals with high LDL, obtaining 10 percent of their calories from pistachios resulted in a 9 percent reduction in LDL and a 12 percent reduction when they obtained 20 percent of their calories from pistachios.
In another study, replacing monounsaturated fats for pistachios in a Mediterranean diet resulted in a 21 percent reduction in total cholesterol, a 23 percent reduction in LDL, and a 14 percent reduction in triglycerides.
8. Pistachios may lower high blood glucose levels
Pistachios may be slightly high in calories than other nuts, but they have a low Glycemic index, meaning they cannot spike your blood sugars. Furthermore, consuming pistachios has been shown to promote healthy blood sugar levels.
In one study, consuming 0.9 ounces (25 grams) of pistachios twice daily reduced fasting blood sugar by 9 percent in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Another study involving healthy individuals showed that consuming 56 grams of pistachios with a high-carb diet reduced blood-sugar response by 20-30 percent.
9. Good for eye health
A healthy diet can go a long way towards promoting eye health, but some foods have more effect than others. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that promote visual health by protecting the eyes from oxidative stress.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are also good at lowering the risk of eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which are also the common causes of blindness in the United States.
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and carrots, but pistachios lead all other foods in these antioxidants.
One ounce of shelled pistachios contains over 1,000 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin—nearly twice as much as an egg! It also contains about 15% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin E.
Antioxidants like Vitamin E protect cells from free radicals (unstable molecules that damage cells), which play a role in degenerative diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition to being packed with nutrition, pistachios are gluten-free and vegan friendly, making them a great snack option for people with dietary restrictions.
In addition, pistachios are also high in omega-3 fatty acids that nourish and support your eyes. Studies have shown a higher risk of age-related macular degeneration among people who don’t consume enough omega-3s.
Since nuts like pistachios provide similar benefits, it makes sense to incorporate them into your diet. You can also help preserve your vision by wearing sunglasses when you go outside during daylight hours.
Just be sure to avoid salted varieties if you’re watching your sodium intake.
Pistachios are rich in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for eye health.
10. May aid weight loss
The protein, fat, and fiber content in pistachios initiate early satiety and a feeling of fullness, causing you to eat less. This translates to fewer calories and weight loss.
Studies show that pistachios may help people lose weight. According to one study, participants who ate 1-2 handfuls of pistachios each day as part of a calorie-restricted diet lost more weight than those who didn’t eat pistachios.
The polyunsaturated fats in pistachios have been shown to increase metabolism and increase satiety. In fact, eating 20 grams of polyunsaturated fat was found to decrease appetite and food intake by up to 10 percent.
Additionally, researchers at Purdue University found that pistachios can actually reduce fat storage. So if you want to lose belly fat or shrink your waistline, adding pistachios to your diet can be a great way to do so!
In another study, individuals who ate 53 grams of pistachios as an afternoon snack experienced weight loss compared to those who consumed refined carbohydrates like pretzels.
11. Helps prevent type 2 diabetes
Several studies conducted by Harvard Medical School and other institutions found that eating one serving of pistachios daily can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
A study published in a 2011 issue of Current Opinion in Lipidology discovered that pistachios might be as effective as some prescription medications at improving blood sugar control, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and preventing weight gain.
Research also suggests that pistachios are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, which helps protect against free radical damage to cells. Free radicals are thought to play a role in triggering insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. By helping fight these damaging molecules, pistachios may help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
7 fun and Delicious Ways to Eat Pistachios!
Pistachios are a fantastic snack to enjoy any time of day, but that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck with eating them the same way every day! In fact, pistachios can be enjoyed in so many different ways that it would be impossible to name all of them here!
Read on to find out how you can make pistachios fun again, and try at least one of these 7 fun and delicious ways to eat pistachios!
Use them in place of nuts in recipes
Pistachios can be used in place of other nuts in all sorts of recipes, giving you an opportunity to add some variety without significantly altering your favorite dishes.
Grind them up and sprinkle them on ice cream
Try putting a handful of shelled pistachios in a food processor or blender. Pulse for about 1 minute until you’ve made a fine powder, then sprinkle it on ice cream, fruit salads, yogurt, cakes—or anything else you can think of.
Not only will your dish look more interesting, but your taste buds will be delighted with unexpected flavors.
Use them as a salad topping
This may be an obvious one, but people don’t do it enough. A serving of roasted or salted nuts adds so much flavor to a bowl of greens. But it’s important to note that not all nuts are created equal – pistachios are rich in antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
That makes them a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight (or maintain your current weight). Their high fiber and protein help keep you feeling full. So next time you reach for almonds or walnuts as a topping, consider tossing some pistachios into your salad instead. You won’t regret it!
Add roasted pistachios to your smoothies
While some people like adding raw, unsalted nuts into their smoothies, sometimes they can leave a gritty texture. That’s why it’s best to toast them first in a pan over medium heat for about two minutes, or until you start smelling a nutty aroma (don’t burn them!).
Then remove from the heat and let cool before adding to your smoothie. Packing your morning smoothie with nuts can give you added energy for an active day ahead!
Make homemade pistachio butter
For a totally indulgent treat, make your own homemade pistachio butter. All you need is a food processor or high-speed blender, raw unsalted shelled pistachios, olive oil (or coconut oil), pure maple syrup or honey, sea salt, and a little bit of vanilla extract.
With just those few ingredients, you’ll be able to create an amazing nut butter that’s perfect for spreading on celery stalks, apples, or toast points.
Bake with them as an alternative to almond flour or coconut flour
Pistachios are popular in desserts. Take advantage of their earthy sweetness by replacing almond flour or coconut flour with them in your recipes. They can be added to muffins, cakes, cookies, brownies, and many other treats.
Or try adding them to a stir-fry or casserole dish for a savory taste sensation. No matter how you decide to incorporate them into your diet, they’re sure to be a hit at any gathering or get-together with friends.
Add them to a protein shake
Pistachios are an excellent addition to a protein shake, especially if you want your shake to be a little sweet. Simply toss in about two tablespoons of chopped, shelled nuts for an extra boost of protein without adding any additional sugar.
Not only will you get a great taste from these tasty little treats, but they’ll also provide some much-needed fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats in your diet.
Pistachios are a great source of nutrients such as fiber, protein, healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins, including Vit A, B1 (thiamine), and B6.
Whether roasted or raw, regular consumption of pistachios may improve your heart health, promote a healthy gut, improve eye function, lower blood glucose, and influence weight loss.
You can enjoy pistachios in various ways, including as a snack, in desserts, salads, or in baking.
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