Pistachio nuts are not only tasty and fun to eat but also super healthy.
These edible seeds of the Pistacia vera tree contain healthy fats and are a good source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
What’s more, they contain several essential nutrients and can aid weight loss and heart and gut health.
Interestingly, people have been eating pistachios since 7000 BC. Nowadays, they’re very popular in many dishes, including ice cream and desserts.
Here are 9 evidence-based health benefits of pistachios.
- Loaded with nutrients:
- Calories: 159
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 13 grams (90% are unsaturated fats)
- Potassium: 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Phosphorus: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 28% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 21% of the RDI
- Copper: 41% of the RDI
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
Notably, pistachios are one of the most vitamin B6-rich foods around. Vitamin B6 is important for several bodily functions, including blood sugar regulation and the formation of haemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Pistachios are also rich in potassium, with one ounce containing more potassium than half of a large banana. Pistachios are high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They also boast several other important nutrients, including vitamin B6 and potassium.
- High in antioxidants:
Antioxidants are vital to your health.
They prevent cell damage and play a key role in reducing the risk of disease, such as cancer. Pistachios contain more antioxidants than most other nuts and seeds. In fact, only walnuts and pecans contain more. In one 4-week study, participants who ate either one or two servings of pistachios per day had greater levels of lutein and γ-Tocopherol, compared with participants who did not eat pistachios. Among nuts, pistachios have the highest content of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are very important antioxidants for eye health. They protect your eyes from damage caused by blue light and age-related macular degeneration, a condition in which your central vision is impaired or lost. Furthermore, two of the most abundant groups of antioxidants in pistachios — polyphenols and tocopherols — may help protect against cancer and heart disease. Interestingly, the antioxidants in pistachios are very accessible in the stomach. Therefore, they are more likely to be absorbed during digestion. Pistachios are among the most antioxidant-rich nuts around. They’re high in lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which promote eye health.
While eating nuts has many health benefits, they’re typically high in calories.
Fortunately, pistachios are among the lowest-calorie nuts. One ounce (28 grams) of pistachios contains 159 calories, compared with 185 calories in walnuts and 193 calories in pecans.
With protein comprising about 20% of their weight, pistachios are second only to almonds when it comes to protein content. They also have a higher ratio of essential amino acids — the building blocks of protein — than any other nut These amino acids are considered essential because your body cannot make them, so you must obtain them from your diet. Meanwhile, other amino acids are considered semi-essential, meaning that they can be essential under certain circumstances, depending on the health of the individual.
One of these semi-essential amino acids is L-arginine, which accounts for 2% of the amino acids in pistachios. It’s converted into nitric oxide in your body, which is a compound that causes your blood vessels to dilate, aiding blood flow. Pistachios contain fewer calories and more protein than most other nuts. Also, their essential amino acid content is higher than any other nut.
- Promotes healthy weight loss:
Despite being an energy-dense food, nuts are one of the most weight-loss-friendly foods. While few studies have looked at the effects of pistachios on weight, those that exist are promising. Pistachios are rich in fiber and protein, both of which increase feelings of fullness and help you eat less. In one 12-week weight loss program, those who ate 1.9 ounces (53 grams) of pistachios per day as an afternoon snack had twice the reduction in body mass index, compared with those who ate 2 ounces (56 grams) of pretzels per day. Moreover, another 24-week study in individuals with excess weight showed that those who consumed 20% of calories from pistachios lost 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) more from their waistlines than those who did not eat pistachios. One factor possibly contributing to pistachios’ weight loss properties is that their fat content might not be fully absorbed. In fact, studies have demonstrated the malabsorption of fats from nuts. This is because part of their fat content is stuck within their cell walls, preventing it from being digested in the gut. What’s more, shelled pistachios are good for mindful eating, as shelling the nuts takes time and slows the rate of eating. The leftover shells also give you a visual clue of how many nuts you have eaten.
One study showed that individuals who ate in-shell pistachios consumed 41% fewer calories than individuals who ate shelled pistachios. Eating pistachio nuts may aid in weight loss. In-shell pistachios are especially beneficial, as they promote mindful eating.