Are Pistachios Good for You?

Reviewed on 5/19/2021
pistachios
Pistachios are a great source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, good fats and other nutrients

Pistachios are a great source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, good fats and other nutrients. 

Nuts like pistachios are one of the main components of a healthy Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a lower risk of heart diseases, respiratory illnesses and cancer. So pistachios not only help with heart and gut health, but can also help you keep your weight in check.

What are the health benefits of pistachios?

Aid in weight loss

Pistachios are a good source of protein, with about 6 grams of protein per ounce. They are also low in calories; about 50 pistachios barely contain 160 calories.

Because of this high-protein, low-calorie combination, they’re a satisfying snack that can help you shed extra pounds.

Lower blood sugar

Pistachios are also considered a low glycemic index food, meaning they keep you full for a longer time and cause a slow rise in blood sugar level. So they’re especially good for you if you’re suffering from diabetes.

Strengthen immune system

Being rich in vitamin B6, pistachios help maintain a healthy nervous system and a strong immune system.

Prevent cell damage

Pistachios also contain antioxidants like vitamin E, polyphenols and the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants are plant-based compounds that help get rid of free oxygen radicals in the body and have anti-aging properties. 

Two of these antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are not found in other nuts, have been linked to a decrease in the risk of developing macular degeneration (age-related vision loss).

Lower cholesterol

Pistachios help improve the level of good (HDL) cholesterol by being a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. With one serving of pistachios, the body gets 13 grams of fat, most of which (11.5 grams) comes from these heart-healthy fats. Studies suggest that these nuts also help to lower the levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol due to their high content of monounsaturated fats.

Of course, it’s better to go for the unsalted kind to lower the amount of sodium in your diet.

Promote gut health

Like all other nuts, pistachios are rich in fiber. Good fiber intake is beneficial for your gut because it prevents constipation.

Improve skin and hair

Pistachios contain biotin, which promotes healthy hair growth, as well as vitamin E, promotes skin health.

How many pistachios should you eat a day?

Pistachios have a rich, buttery flavor that can be addicting. And even though they have health benefits, it’s always a good idea not to overdo it. About a handful (1.5 ounces) is a good amount to shoot for each day.

If you’re concerned about limiting your pistachio intake, go for the kind that have shells on them instead of the pre-shelled ones. 

You should also be careful if you have a fructan intolerance. Since pistachios contain fructans, eating too many of them can cause bloating, nausea or abdominal pain.

QUESTION

According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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References
Fantino M, Bichard C, Mistretta F, Bellisle F. Daily Consumption of Pistachios Over 12 Weeks Improves Dietary Profile Without Increasing Body Weight in Healthy Women: A Randomized Controlled Intervention. Appetite. 2020 Jan 1;144:104483. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31604062/

Cleveland Clinic. 3 Reasons Why Pistachios Can Boost Your Health. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-reasons-why-pistachios-can-boost-your-health/

Setalvad N. California Pistachios – Nutrition in a Nutshell. American Pistachio Growers. https://americanpistachios.in/about-us/pistachio-power-unshelled/articles/california-pistachios-nutrition-nutshell#

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