Pistachios are seeds that are grown on the Pistachio tree, which is native to Central Asia and the Middle East. They can be recognized by their green tint and their beige colored shell. The pistachio is related to the cashew, another popular culinary seed. Pistachios are consumed with higher frequency in Asian and Middle Eastern countries—the Chinese consume twice as many per year as Americans!
Many emerging diets are focusing on consuming more whole foods and less processed foods. Whole30 and Paleo diets, for instance, follow that we should revert back to eating a diet similar to what was eaten by our prehistoric ancestors. Regardless of popular diets, research is pointing to the fact that the less processed a food is, the better it is for us. Whole foods in their natural state tend to be higher in nutrients, while more processed foods tend to be high in calories but lacking any real value to our bodies.
Pistachios go through very little processing from the time they are picked off the tree to the time we purchase them ready to eat at the supermarket. They are often eaten whole or ground up to be used in deserts or salads, but their nutrition remains intact. Pistachios are an extremely nutrient dense food, and offer more fiber, protein, and minerals per serving than many other nuts or seeds.
Why Should You Eat More Pistachios?
Besides the obvious fact that pistachios are a whole, nutrient-dense food that is better for you than a bag of chips or a donut, they contribute to good health in many lesser known ways. The following are some good reasons to include more pistachios in your diet.
Nutrients in Pistachios Per 100 Gram Serving
|High % Daily Value:||Significant amounts of:|
20% DV Protein
20% DV Dietary Fiber
131% DV of B Vitamins
1.Improved Heart Health
Many people know that consuming more nuts is associated with a lower chance of developing heart disease: some experts suggest that eating a handful of nuts each day can cut the risk significantly. Nuts reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, and the right balance of those is crucial for maintaining heart health. Recent studies have shown that pistachios are even more efficient at doing this than other nuts or seeds. After eating one serving a day of pistachios vs. other nuts over a certain period, study participants saw a significant drop in bad cholesterol. After increasing to two servings a day, they saw even lower levels.
2. Better Digestion
Pistachios contain a lot of dietary fiber. Fiber is necessary to ward off digestion problems like diarrhea and constipation. Eating more fiber can benefit anyone, but particularly those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease have seen improvements in symptoms after increasing pistachio intake. Because of their high fiber content, adding pistachios to your diet can improve your energy levels: a better working digestive system leads you to feeling lighter and less sluggish. Pistachios also are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which are better absorbed when your digestive tract is running smoothly.
3. Improved Complexion
Vitamin E is a vital nutrient for skin health, and a 100-gram serving of pistachios contains 15% of its recommended daily value. The seeds also contain a high content of healthy oils that serve to moisturize skin both when consumed or when the oil is extracted and used externally. These nutrients leave skin with a more even complexion, and can combat the negative cosmetic effects of aging. Pistachios also have the capability of blocking UV rays, which can aid in preventing some skin cancers.
4. Protection Against Diabetes
New research suggests that adding pistachios to your diet can help ward off diabetes if you are have prediabetes or if you are predisposed to the disease. Participants were divided in to two groups, one with a healthy diet that included a serving of pistachios each day, and another that followed an otherwise healthy diet without pistachios. Those in the pistachio consuming group had lower glucose and insulin levels after the study was done, as well as lower insulin resistance.
5. Improved Immunity
Adding pistachios to your diet can aid in protecting you from minor ailments like the common cold or strep throat, or from bigger problems, because of their antioxidant properties. Pistachio consumption boosts lutein in the body. Lutein is a carotenoid that is also found in foods like chocolate, and it prevents or reverses damage done on a cellular level. Some studies have suggested that carotenoids can help fight against ailments like infections or even cancer. Pistachios are also high in Vitamin B6, which plays a role in increasing the amount of healthy red blood cells and boosts infection-fighting white blood cell production.
Of course, there is no one food out there that offers everything we need to be healthy and to stay that way. Pistachios, however, offer a pretty big bang for their buck. They are lower in calories but provide greater nutrition than many other nuts and seeds. They can improve the way we look and feel. Try adding a serving of pistachios to your diet a few times a week, and see the difference it makes in your health.
Including Pistachios in Your Diet
Not sure how to add pistachios to your routine? Eating them raw is the fastest and easiest way, but can be boring after eating them day after day. Try some of the following recipes or foods to keep pistachios interesting.
Pistachio Macarons Recipe
Cooking with Pistachios
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Megan Machucho (author) from Milwaukee, WI on July 29, 2017:
Louise Powles you're welcome! All the more reason to keep enjoying them :)
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 29, 2017:
I love Pistachios. I didn't realise they had so many health benefits. Interesting! Thankyou. =)
Ryan from Louisiana, USA on June 19, 2017:
Pistachios have been one of my new favorite snacks ever since I have tasted them. I am a huge nut fan and cashews used to be my favorite type. Now it is Pistachios. And I had no clue they had all these benefits that go along with their consumption. Thank you for sharing this information.