Five Reasons to Go Nuts for Pistachios
Pistachios provide a powerhouse of nutrients that support healthy hearts, immune function, muscle building and more!
Pistachios may be small, but they pack an oversized nutritional punch. Recently published studies have added to the reams of existing evidence that further show the myriad health benefits of these tiny green nuts. Here are five little-known facts about the health and nutritional benefits of pistachios that may surprise you.
Pistachios Power with Complete Protein
Most plant proteins lack one or more essential amino acids, making them “incomplete.” Not so with pistachios – the latest research shows that pistachios contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them a “complete” protein similar to eggs, dairy and meats. Even more impressive, one ounce of pistachios contains 6 grams of protein, as much as an egg!
Non-perishable pistachios are convenient for a grab-n-go post-exercise snack since they contain the amino acids required to build and maintain muscle mass and lean body tissue. Plus, being a complete plant-based protein, pistachios are an ideal snack or dessert topping for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian eating pattern.
Pistachios Support a Healthy Immune System
Pistachios provide key nutrients to help boost immunity, including protein, B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium, selenium and other bioactive compounds. Here’s how:
- B-vitamins (B1, B6 and Folate) are necessary to fight off infection.
- Zinc, magnesium and selenium may lower the risk and severity of viral infections.
- Protein can strengthen the immune system by helping to maintain healthy immune cells, which are responsible for eliminating damaged cells, bacteria and viruses.
- Gamma-tocopherol (an antioxidant) may help speed recovery time and lower airway inflammation.
Pistachios are Heart-Healthy
Rich in both unsaturated fats and antioxidants such as vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin, pistachios support a healthy heart. These satisfying nuts also provide plant phytosterols, naturally-occurring compounds which lower harmful blood cholesterol levels and help to protect the heart. According to the FDA’s qualified health claim for nuts: “Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces 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 Provide More than 30 Nutrients & Phytonutrients
According to the USDA Nutrient Database, pistachios provide more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Some of the key essential substances in this nut include magnesium, fiber, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and B vitamins. What’s more, you get all those nutrients as well as 6 grams of high quality protein in an ounce serving. And here’s an eye-opening fact: Pistachios are one of the only nuts that provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are important for protecting your eyes from the sun’s rays, blue light from electronic screens and age-related eye damage.
Pistachios Contribute to a Healthy Weight
It’s true. Pistachios provide the dynamic duo of protein and fiber—two nutrients that help keep you satisfied and tame cravings. If your goal is to lose unwanted pounds, research suggests that in-shell pistachios may be your best option. In one study, participants ate 41% fewer calories when they had to crack the nuts open compared to the time when the nuts had already been removed from their shells. The researchers believe seeing the evidence of the empty shells may serve as a reminder of how much you’ve eaten, reducing the likelihood of overindulging.
Bottom Line: Pistachios are a convenient, delicious nut that you can feel good about. Whether you buy them shelled or in-shell, these powerhouse nuts are a great option for school-aged kids and teens, families on the go, athletes and those trying to achieve a healthy weight. Pistachios are delicious right out of the bag or when used to add flavor and nutrition to hot and cold cereals, smoothie bowls, trail mix, salads, desserts and all kinds of recipes!
Disclosure: I received samples of pistachios and was compensated for this blog. Views and opinions are my own.