Pistachios are a great tasting, healthy snack option that is both convenient and fun to eat.
Contrary to popular belief, snacking can be a healthy habit providing essential nutrients and helping curb appetite between meals to avoid over eating. The key to healthy snacking is choosing the right snack foods, such as pistachios, while avoiding unhealthier options like potato chips and calorie rich muffins .
What Are Pistachios
Pistachio is a nut that has a hard, thin, tan shell that partially splits open when the nut is ripe. Inside the shell is a smooth, pale-green kernel wrapped in a fine brownish skin. This kernel has a delicate and sweet flavor, which lends itself to desserts.
Pistachios with fully closed shells are immature and should be avoided. The nuts can be eaten as a snack either raw or roasted. In addition, they can be added to puddings, cakes, candies and luncheon meats.
Where Do Pistachios Come From
Pistachio nuts grow in clusters on the pistachio tree, which grows wild throughout central and western Asia and is cultivated in warmer areas of the world. The largest pistachio growing regions are in California, Iran, Syria and Turkey.
Are Pistachios Good For You
Are pistachios healthy ?. Yes they are !.
In-fact among nuts, pistachios are one of the most nutritious varieties. A one-ounce serving of pistachios, with 49 kernels and 160 calories, provides more than 30 important vitamins, such as Vitamin B6 and other B vitamins for energy, and minerals including manganese, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium for strong bones and a healthy heart.
- Controls Hunger : Just a handful of pistachios (about 30 nuts and 100 calories) can provide the feeling of fullness and the length of time it takes to get hungry again. Plus they fulfill a significant amount of daily need of protein, healthy fat, and dietary fiber.
- Source of Good Fats : Pistachios are one of the lowest fat nuts. They contain mono-unsaturated fats (good fats) that can help lower cholesterol and studies show that nut consumption is associated with a lower body mass index and does not increase body weight when eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet.
- High in Fiber : Fiber aids your digestive tract, helps manage cholesterol and controls blood sugar levels.
- High in Phytosterols : Phytosterols have been shown to help lower cholesterol absorption and maintain normal cholesterol levels.
- Lowest Calorie Nut : One pistachio contains around three calories so a typical serving (30 g) has around 87 calories.
- Slow Consumption Time : In-shell nuts like pistachios have slow consumption time and the empty shells left behind serve as an important visual cue for better portion control. A recent study shows that when empty pistachio shells are left behind, people eat 35 percent fewer calories yet report feeling equally satisfied.
From a nutrition perspective, pistachios are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and thiamin.
- A snack of crunchy pistachios can provide three grams of dietary fiber, which is about the same amount if fiber found in one slice of whole wheat bread or three plums.
- Pistachios provide about 310mg of potassium per 30g serving which is more than any other tree nut or more than found in half of a large banana. Potassium is required by the body for the function of all cells. Deficiency of potassium may result in increased blood pressure, bone turnover and risk of kidney stones
Pistachio Nutrition Information
- Pistachios offer many different antioxidants, which can help to support the heart and the body.
- Pistachios are the only nut to contain significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoid antioxidants that reduces risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and chances of blindness in older people.
- Pistachios have the ability to elevate healthy HDL cholesterol levels, when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat. HDL cholesterol is considered Good Cholesterol as it protects the Heart against stokes.
- Phytosterols (a plant sterol) is found abundantly in pistachios. Plant sterols can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol is considered as Bad cholesterol and it’s excess in body is known to be bad for heart health.
- Pistachios are sun ripened and dry roasted without added oil. This gives them their unique taste and flavor unlike any other.
- Roasted and salted pistachios may be a more natural way to get back the important nutrients you lose during exercise – potassium and sodium – compared to popular sports drinks on the market.
Are Pistachios Fattening ?
While pistachios are a rich source of dietary fat (14g per 30g serving), they do not tend to cause an increase in body weight.
Almost 90% of the fat is the healthy unsaturated type, mono- and poly unsaturated. Monounsaturated fat is mostly as oleic acid which comprises 55% of the fat in pistachios. Researchers at UC Irvine have identified that oleic acid contains an appetite-suppressing compound called oleoylethanolamide or OEA, which helps you feel fuller longer after a meal.
A pistachio snack helps combat hunger pangs. It is a good source of fiber and protein due to which you’re likely to eat less but feel satiated, longer
Why Are Pistachios So Expensive
- Pistachio cultivation is both difficult & expensive. Pistachio trees capable of reaching 30 feet in height take 7 to 15 years to begin producing significant quantities of nuts, often alternately bearing a large crop one year and a small crop the next. Peak production is reached approximately at 20 years.
- Pistachio is a desert plant. Supplies of irrigation water is limited and very costly in desert areas
- The other two major pistachio exporting countries, Iran and Syria, are engulfed in sanctions and civil war leading to decreased production and world wide availability
- Demand from world’s Largest consumer of Pistachio – China – is already enormous and is voraciously increasing. Even with the ramped-up production, demand is out-pacing supply. This is pushing prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to all-time highs.
Allergy to tree nuts, which includes pistachios, is one of the most common food allergies among adults and children. Pistachio-allergic people will very likely also react to cashews and almonds, and possibly to other tree nuts as well. Itchy skin and rash is a common reaction associated with food allergy. Other symptoms of pistachio allergy include watery eyes, blotchy red skin, coughing, choking, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
In China the pistachio is known as “the happy nut” and in Iran as “the smiling nut”. In Syria, if you hear somebody talking about “the green almond” be assured the reference is to Pistachios .