Pistachios are a tree nut and members of the cashew family. They originated in Central Asia and the Middle East. Despite people’s perception and how we refer to them, pistachios are actually a seed and not a nut. The pistachio tree is essentially a desert plant that grows in saline soil. Despite their preferences, these are pretty hardy trees, with the only exception is that they do not thrive in high humidity.
The pistachio tree needs a prolonged summery, dry heat to properly ripen its fruit. This fruit is called a drupe, and it is an elongated seed. This is the part inside the shell that we traditionally eat. The shell has a cream or beige coloured hard exterior typically while the inside has a green flesh that is wrapped in a darker, more purple skin. When you see red or green pistachios, know that these have been dyed commercially, as they do not occur naturally with these colours.
Because of the hard shell of pistachio, they can sometimes be difficult to eat. Some are easy to crack open from the tiny slit in the shell, but others often seem to be glued shut. When this happens, you may not be able to pry it open and may have to crack it with a nutcracker. Pistachios have a very unique and somewhat sweet flavour to them. They have been grown and harvested for centuries, making them one of the oldest known consumed nuts in the world. So old that they are even mentioned in the Old Testament.
Pistachios are filed with very rich nutrients and are incredibly healthy for the body. As well, they also have some very unique properties that make them different from any other seed or nut around. They are versatile and can be integrated into many different kinds of recipes.
Pistachios Are Full of PROTEIN
Most nuts are known for their high protein levels, despite being a seed, pistachios are the same. One ounce, which is about forty-nine pistachios, contains about six grams of protein. Protein is essential for the body because it is broken down into amino acids, which are then used to repair tissue and create new cells. Eating protein is helpful because it is crucial for organ function as well as enabling satiety, which then decreases the desire for unhealthy foods.
Pistachios have a good ratio of FATTY ACIDS
Being a high fat-food is not a bad thing if the fats in question are healthy. Luckily, pistachios are healthy fat. The majority of the fats in pistachio are called poly-saturated fats and mono-saturated fats, both of which protect the heart. Pistachios are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the fats that lower the harmful cholesterol levels and raise the good ones. They are a good source of omega-3’s for everyone, but especially so for vegetarians and vegans who don’t eat fish and must find plant sources for omega-3’s.
Pistachios are filled with powerful ANTIOXIDANTS
The cells in our body grow older, just like we do. When this happens, they incur oxidative stress, which is caused by the presence of free radicals. So how can we reduce the damage done to our cells as time passes by? We need antioxidants. This type of molecule finds these free radicals and reverses some of the cellular damage. Fortunately, pistachios are filled with antioxidants like lutein, beta-carotene, and more. All of which are antioxidants that make a healthy and noticeable difference in our bodies.
Pistachios are filled with PHOSPHORUS
Phosphorus is an essential element that is needed in our bodies. It helps to ensure all the proper physiological functions. When the body has adequate amounts of phosphorus, then the cells can produce the energy they need and ensure that our bones remain strong.
Pistachios are a great source of VITAMIN B
There are so many health benefits to gain by consuming Vitamin B. In fact, without it, there are significantly higher risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even cognitive dysfunction.
Want to know more?
Read on to find out the top 9 health benefits of eating pistachios.
9 Health Benefits of Eating Pistachios
1. Pistachios are filled with important nutrients.
In fact, just a one-ounce serving which is about forty-nine pistachios has the following:
- Calories: 159
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 13 grams (90% are unsaturated fats)
- Potassium: 6% of the recommended daily intake
- Phosphorus: 11% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B6: 28% of the recommended daily intake
- Thiamine: 21% of the recommended daily intake
- Copper: 41% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 15% of the recommended daily intake
Pistachios are high in protein, antioxidants as well as fiber. They have Vitamin B6 and potassium. All of this makes pistachios a delicious and healthy snack!
2. Pistachios are very high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are so crucial to our health that without them, serious diseases would occur. They prevent damage to our cells and play a critical role in decreasing the risks of diseases such as cancer. Pistachios actually contain more antioxidants than other seeds and nuts and have the highest content of a particular kind of antioxidant that is most beneficial for eye health. They do this by preventing the damage that comes with age.
As well, pistachios are filled with polyphenols and tocopherols -these are the two antioxidants that help most in preventing cancer and heart disease. And with cancer and heart disease being the two most common killers in modern-day society, it’s more important than ever to ensure you are getting enough antioxidants.
3. Pistachios are low calorie but high protein nuts.
People often panic when it comes to nuts. They are seen, often unreasonably so, as high-fat snacks. However, calories and fat are not the same thing. Also, it’s about the right fats, the good ones. And nuts, in general, have lots of good fats. Pistachios, though, are actually some of the lowest-calorie nuts you can choose from. Almonds are known for having the most amount of protein, but pistachios come in as a close second with their protein quota. They also are filled with amino acids, which are the base building blocks of protein. The acids are essential because they cannot be made by the body -we must get them from our nutrition.
4. Pistachios can help with weight loss
Although they give a ton of energy, nuts are actually a very good weight-loss food. Pistachios, in particular, are rich in fiber and protein. Both of which increase satiety by aiding with eating less and making better health food choices when we do eat. Another factor that contributes to the weight-loss qualities of pistachios is the fact that their fat content is not always absorbed by the body. There is a certain amount of malabsorption of fat from nuts in general. The fat content of nuts is trapped within their cell walls. Therefore, sometimes, this makes them unable to be digested by the gut.
5. Pistachios can help promote healthy gut bacteria
As we know, pistachios are very high in fiber. Fiber actually moves through the body and the digestive system without being broken down. Eventually, it is the gut bacteria that ferments the fiber and converts it into fatty acids-specifically short-chain fatty acids. This process results in health benefits such as reduced risks of digestive issues, cancer, and heart disease.
6. Pistachios could lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels.
Eating pistachios can reduce your risk of heart disease in several ways. Because they are high in antioxidants, pistachios can lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels. This, in turn, lowers your risk of heart disease. They have actually been proven to lower blood pressure more than any other nut.
7. Pistachios can increase the health of your blood vessels
The lining of the blood vessels must work properly to avoid heart disease. When the lining no longer dilates, then blood flow is decreased. Nitric oxide helps to keep these vessels dilated and working correctly and fortunately, pistachios are a great source of amino acids, which then convert to nitric oxide in the body. It is for this reason that pistachios are great at promoting blood vessel health and keeping the body working correctly.
8. Pistachios can help to lower blood sugar levels.
Pistachios are low on the glycemic index, which means that they don’t create high blood sugar spikes. In fact, they help to promote healthy blood sugar levels. As well, pistachios are rich in carotenoids, antioxidants, and more.
9. Pistachios are more than delicious, they are easy and fun to eat!
Pistachios make great snacks. They are easy to use in baking, as a salad topper or even as a pizza topping. You can use them to make desserts such as cheesecake or gelato. They can also make pesto or nut butter.
Finally, this is what it comes down to: Pistachios are a fabulous source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and more. They are filled with antioxidants, nutrients and all this together helps to promote lower cholesterol, better blood sugar levels, improved eye, and gut health.
New and different ways to use pistachios & include them in your diet
If you have a dairy and gluten intolerance, then a nut-based crust is a great alternative. Instead of using flour, eggs, or milk, nuts like pistachios can be used instead. Pistachios have a creamy flavor and a crunchy texture, which makes them perfect crusts for plant-based desserts and even savory foods. They also fit in into the raw food diet. They can be added as a crust to tofu, seitan, and tempeh and also used to make an outer layer on a raw vegan cream cheese.
Pistachios are salty, and this often compliments sweet and makes them fabulous for desserts. Baked into cakes, sprinkled on top or added to ice cream, and even oatmeal. Pistachios offer a lovely green hue that your taste buds will enjoy!
Pistachio Sauces and Rubs
Add ground pistachios to pesto or even make a pistachio encrusted fish recipe. There are indeed so many ways to incorporate pistachios into your diet.
Pistachios are very adaptable and have a relatively mild taste. They are great as energy boosters and make super ingredients in energy balls and bars. Mix them with matcha and dark chocolate for a fabulous, salty-sweet flavor.
So, if you are looking for a healthy, energy-boosting snack that will keep you feeling full longer but strongly and healthily- then pistachios are the right choice for you. Middle Eastern shops will always have a great supply of pistachios on hand. However, they are also easily accessible at any grocery or health food store. Use them for snacking on, for sprinkling over salads and desserts, and even as a salty flavour enhancer on savory meals. Pistachios are good for you and always taste great!