How pistachios can improve your heart health
Pistachios are a beloved tree nut that have been around for centuries. The popular snack nut is extremely nutritious and versatile and can be used in everything from pesto to cookies.
The popular nut is available with or without shells, and comes in raw or roasted varieties and are packed with nutritional benefits.
Some impressive pistachio health benefits include:
1. Pistachios are a good source of several vitamins and minerals.
A serving of pistachios boasts more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, Maggie Moon, a registered dietitian, author, and health communications specialist, told the Good Housekeepingmagazine.
Plus, pistachios are also cholesterol-free, and Moon says that a serving provides more than 10% of the Daily Value for copper, vitamin B6, thiamin (B1), manganese and phosphorus.
2. Pistachios are a plant-based complete protein.
"Pistachios are a great plant-protein choice compared to meat because they are naturally cholesterol-free and add fiber to your day," Moon says. She notes that since pistachios provide adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids, this makes them a source of complete protein.
"The protein in pistachios is higher quality than other popular snack nuts, with a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 94 out of 100 for dry roasted pistachios," Moon said.
3. Pistachios may improve blood sugar control.
"Pistachios can be included as part of a healthy diet for eating right with diabetes," Moon says. The American Diabetes Association even calls nuts a “diabetes superfood,” as their healthy fat profile and fiber counts can help with managing hunger and blood sugar control.
A study published in Diabetes Care found that pistachios consumption specifically may have glucose and insulin lowering effects in prediabetic individuals. Research in Type 2 Diabetics found pistachio intake to have favorable effects on blood sugar control as well.
4. Pistachios may combat inflammation.
Pistachios contain a unique makeup of powerful antioxidant compounds, including tocopherols, phylloquinone, carotenoids, chlorophyll and flavonoids. Research shows that the polyphenols and flavonoids are widely present in all portions of the pistachio nut and have anti-inflammatory properties too. "Pistachios’ green and red-purple colors come from antioxidants," Moon says.
5. Pistachios may promote a healthy heart.
Since about 90% of the fats found in pistachios are unsaturated, Moon says that they make for a very heart-healthy snack. "Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, 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."
What's more, the nuts are free from cholesterol and also a good source of fiber. Our experts advise opting for unsalted or lightly salted varieties to ensure they stay a heart-healthy choice.
6. Pistachios may foster mindful eating.
"Cracking open pistachio shells may slow you down during snack time," Moon shares. "The empty shells may be a visual cue that helps snackers eat mindfully." She adds that in-shell pistachios may help you "fool yourself full" because the leftover shells can be a visual cue for portions, potentially helping to curb intake. "We call this the Pistachio Principle."
7. Pistachios may assist with weight management
Recent research found that regular consumption of pistachios was associated with increased dietary fiber intake, decreased sweets consumption and weight loss too. Plus, a one ounce serving offers a generous 49 pistachios for under 200 calories.
Can you eat pistachios daily?
"Not only can you eat pistachios every day, there are good reasons you should," Moon says. "Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. As a complete protein, pistachios can help you meet your protein needs."
She adds that this is especially important for vegans and vegetarians, but it’s also great for anyone just looking to add more plant protein to their day.