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5 Surprising Benefits of Pistachios

Pistachios are prized for their unique, slightly sweet flavor as well as for their intriguing viridescent hues. Pistachios are one of the world’s oldest nuts, being grown in the Middle East for thousands of years. They are even mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, which indicates their rich history as a prized food source (American Pistachios, 2014).

Like all nuts, pistachios are rich in beneficial nutrients. However, pistachios have some unique properties that set them apart. Their versatility means that you can eat pistachios alone as a snack, on top of a salad, mixed with dried fruits in trail mix, in baked goods, or as a crunchy coating for fish or meat. In addition to these distinctive traits, consider the following nutritional benefits of pistachios as an added perk to their particularly pleasant palate.

Pistachios are a Rich Protein Source

Most nuts contain large amounts of protein relative to their size, and pistachios are no exception. A 1-ounce serving of these nuts (approximately 49 pistachio kernels) contains 6 grams of protein (Self Nutrition Data, n.d.). Your body breaks this protein down into its constituent amino acids, which can be used to repair tissues or to create new molecules. Plus, eating protein-rich foods helps you feel satiated, reducing your cravings for unhealthy foods later on. This makes pistachios the perfect mid-afternoon snack.

They Have a Healthy Ratio of Beneficial Fatty Acids

Pistachios are a high-fat food, but that is not a bad thing. Per serving, pistachios contain 13 total grams of fat (Self Nutrition Data, n.d.). However, only 2 grams of fat are saturated fats, the unhealthy fats that are associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease (American Heart Association, 2016). The rest of the fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which actually protect the heart.

This includes omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that has been associated with lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and higher levels of “good” cholesterol (Penn State News, 2010). Pistachios contain alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a beneficial type of omega-3 fatty acid that can also be converted to DHA and EPA, the two other forms of omega-3s that are only found in animal sources. Thus, vegetarians and vegans may eat pistachios as a source of the omega-3 fatty acids their bodies need.

Pistachios Contain Beneficial Antioxidants

As our cells grow older, they accumulate oxidative damage. This can be related to the presence of free radicals, which can cause considerable damage to cells. A class of molecules called antioxidants can sweep up these free radicals and reverse some of the cellular damage.

Pistachios are an excellent source of antioxidants, including lutein, beta-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol (Penn State News, 2010). Beta-carotene serves as a precursor to vitamin A, while gamma-tocopherol is used as a precursor to vitamin E. Both vitamin A and vitamin E themselves have very high antioxidant activity, making pistachios a great way to reap some of the oxidative damage-fighting effects of these vitamins. In a randomized study of the effects of pistachios, researchers found that incorporating these nuts into the diet was associated with lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol (Penn State News, 2010), possibly because of the antioxidants present in pistachios.

Pistachios are a Source of the Mineral Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an element that is essential for our proper physiological functioning. Not only does phosphorus make a structural component of all cells, but it also regulates a variety of physiological reactions (Calvo, 2014). Getting enough phosphorus ensures that your cells can continue to produce energy and also strengthens the bones. A 1-ounce serving of pistachios contains 137 mg of phosphorus, 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient (Self Nutrition Data, n.d.).

Pistachios Contain Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 has myriad health benefits. Failure to get enough vitamin B6 has been associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and cognitive dysfunction (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2015). Thus, getting vitamin B6 through your diet may improve your cardiovascular health and keep your brain sharp. Women need 1.5 mg of vitamin B6 per day, while men need 2 mg per day. A 1-ounce serving of pistachios contains 0.4 mg of vitamin B6, helping you reach your daily recommended intake of this beneficial vitamin.

Recipes with Pistachios

The following recipes utilize these fatty nuts for their full flavor and nutritive value. Try these simple dishes with your next purchase of the palatable pieces and grab a bag today!

Moringa Oatmeal

Moringa Oatmeal Recipe

A superb way to start your day, this hot cereal blends an assortment of healthsome ingredients to kickstart your morning with the potent nutritive value of moringa powder, oats, and pistachios.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, almond milk, agave or maple syrup, vanilla extract, moringa powder, pistachios, dried mulberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 324-gram servings

No-Bake Granola Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

No-Bake Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

These delectable bars offer a soft snack that you’ll savor as your new preferred midday collation. The bars are easy to make and offer enduring energy and a satiating blend of protein and fiber.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, peanut butter, dried tart cherries, pistachios, flaxseed meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, agave syrup. unsweetened applesauce, melted cacao nibs or dark chocolate.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 8 - 10 servings

Chocolate Goji Berry Bars {gluten-free}

Chocolate Goji Berry Bars Recipe {gluten-free}

Another energy bar on the sweeter side of things, these goji berry bars pack the added benefits of the antioxidants contained in the superfood goji berries. These bars are perfect for an energizing snack when your sweet tooth beckons.
Ingredients: Pitted dates, almond butter, quinoa puffs, goji berries, raw pistachios, coconut oil, dark chocolate chips.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 8 bars

Matcha Green Tea Muffns

Matcha Green Tea Muffins Recipe {gluten-free}

Green tea offers myriad benefits that can be enjoyed in many forms, and muffins are no exception. These exceptional confections are served with a topping of chocolate and chopped pistachios that is simply superb!
Ingredients: Almond flour, coconut flour, gluten-free rolled oats, egg, olive oil, vanilla extract, almond milk, unrefined sugar, matcha green tea powder, baking powder, baking soda, dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, pistachios.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 10 muffins

No-Bake Pistachio Cookies

No-Bake Pistachio Cookies Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

Perhaps you’re searching for a sweet where the palate of pistachio is the star of the show with its rich flavor shining above other tastes. These sandwich cookies are then the perfect treat, pairing their rich flavor with the naturally sweet coconut filling.
Ingredients: Pistachios, unsweetened shredded coconut, gluten-free rolled oats, maple syrup, moringa powder, water, vanilla extract, cashews, almond butter, vanilla, coconut oil.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 16 cookies

Cranberry Pistachio Cookies {gluten-free}

Cranberry Pistachio Cookies Recipe {gluten-free}

Another cookie that emphasizes the unique flavor of pistachio, these cookies pair the nut with the tart taste of cranberries. The result is a mouthwatering confection that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Ingredients: Almond flour, brown rice flour, egg, sugar, coconut oil, dried cranberries, pistachios, baking soda, vanilla extract.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 12-14 cookies

Pistachio Snacks and Products

We offer an abundance of pistachios and pistachio snacks that you’re sure to love. You can find a full list of our pistachio products here, but you can also find a small sample of our favorite pistachio products below.

References

American Heart Association (2016). Saturated fat. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp

American Pistachios (2014). History. Retrieved from http://www.americanpistachios.org/power-of-pistachios/history

Calvo, M.S. (2014). Phosphorus. Linus Pauling Institute. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/phosphorus

Office of Dietary Supplements (2015). Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

Penn State News (2010). Pistachios offer multiple health benefits. Retrieved from http://news.psu.edu/story/167129/2010/05/20/research/pistachios-offer-multiple-health-benefits

Self Nutrition Data (n.d.). Pistachios. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3136/2