There are a lot of nuts out there in the food world, and one that has really gained a lot of steam in recent years in terms of popularity is the pistachio. According to one large online poll, the pistachio has jumped into the number two spot for most popular nut, beating out the almond and pecan and sitting only behind the cashew. A big part of the reason is not only the taste, but because people are starting to realize how healthy pistachio nuts can be.
Pistachios are a bit smaller than the other popular nuts, and tend to have a softer shell that makes them easier to crack. There are also plenty of different colors, though most of the ones you see these days are red or green. No matter what color pistachios you are eating, you are sure to be getting some fantastic health benefits. Today, we’ll take a look at the nutritional value in each serving of pistachios, as well as those health benefits you’ll get.
Nutrition of Pistachios
Like other nuts, pistachios are known for having a fairly high calorie count, but pistachios are actually a bit lower than other nuts. With just over 150 in each one ounce serving, pistachios are well worth it thanks to the other nutrients. Pistachios are a great source of fiber and protein, making up 12 percent of your daily recommendation in each category. With healthy fats, low carbohydrates and low sugars, pistachios bring solid nutrients.
Vitamin B6 is the key here, with 24 percent of your daily recommended value, while thiamin makes up around 15 percent. Other vitamins found in smaller amounts include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, riboflavin and niacin. You will also be getting between seven and 18 percent of your daily recommendation in iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. There are also smaller amounts of calcium, zinc and selenium. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids being present is a nice bonus.
Closer To The Heart
The biggest health benefit that you can get from eating more pistachios relates to your most important organ, the heart. There have been studies regarding the pistachio’s effect on heart health, and it has been found that you can lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by eating more. A big part of that is the unsaturated fats and antioxidants found in each serving.
There are plenty of different antioxidants in pistachios, with vitamins A and E combining with lutein and beta-carotene. Another study has found that the l-arginine in pistachios will benefit your arteries, making them more flexible. This will put you at a much lower risk for a heart attack or stroke down the line. Overall, nuts are some of the heart healthiest foods out there, with pistachios being among the best.
One of the many important nutrients that you are going to find in each serving of pistachios is dietary fiber. As you probably know, fiber has a tremendous benefit for your digestive system. This works by creating helpful bacteria that helps to breakdown food more efficiently and absorb more of the great nutrients you are getting from pistachios (and other foods). If you are experiencing problems such as diarrhea or constipation, fiber will certainly help you.
Your digestive health also plays a role into your weight. If you are often irregular, you might notice that you are either susceptible to weight gain or carry more fat around your midsection. Increased fiber intake can boost your metabolism. While it won’t be to the point where you can eat whatever you want, every little bit helps.
Speaking of things that can also boost your metabolism, having extra muscle in your body can help to burn fat. To build muscle, your body needs plenty of protein, which you can find in pistachios. That protein will also help satisfy many of your food cravings, allowing you to avoid foods that are higher in calories without the nutrition or muscle aiding ability of pistachios.
Protein will also help you overall since it becomes amino acids that help repair damaged cells. Other minerals found in pistachios will help keep your bones strong, too. Since muscles and bones can wane with time, it’s important to keep them as strong for as long as possible.
If you are trying to control your blood sugar (especially if you’re diabetic), it can be hard to find something satisfying that will keep your blood sugar in check. What you should be looking for is something like a pistachio, which is very low in carbohydrates, so you won’t be seeing a blood sugar spike in each serving. The fiber in pistachios are also very beneficial in managing your blood sugar.
Another important compound that you need to prevent diabetes is phosphorus. Since you are getting more than half of your recommended amount in each serving, pistachios can give you an increased tolerance for glucose. Even outside of sugar, pistachios help your blood because of a high vitamin B6 content that increases your blood oxygen levels.
One thing that has been found out about pistachios is that they have a high content in antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. In recent studies, it has been found that these antioxidants are vital in fighting off free radicals that can do damage to your eyes. In the long run, free radicals can cause macular degeneration that hurt your vision.
The antioxidants in pistachios can also make you look better on the outside. Vitamin E and vitamin B6 are the essential vitamins that you need for healthier skin, and can even prevent damage from the sun that leads to cancer. The oil from pistachios is even used in certain beauty products for an immediate effect. You probably don’t think of pistachios for their ability to make you look younger, but now you should.
Summing it Up
Pistachios are fantastic tasting and healthy overall for you, but it can be easy to lose track of how many you are eating. You want to make sure to watch your pistachio intake, especially if you are trying to watch your weight. The calorie count that we gave was for one ounce, but if you’re snacking without paying attention, you can easily eat an entire cup. That could lead to some quick weight gain, as that serving size will have around 700 calories.
Eating too many pistachio nuts can also increase your sodium intake, especially if you aren’t eating the unsalted type. That could also lead to some intestinal discomfort. To see any of these issues, however, you would have to eat mindlessly on pistachios on an almost daily basis. Just enjoy the recommended serving size a couple of times per week, and you will get nothing but the great benefits that pistachios have to offer.