The pistachio nut has a 9000 year history originating in Iran, Syria and Greece. The “happy nut” as they are known in China, has a characteristic green coloring and a semi-opening in the shell which resembles a smile, hence the nickname “happy nut.” The health benefits of pistachios, combined with pistachio’s dessert-like flavor, are enough to make you a happy consumer of the happy nut. A pistachio is the only nut that doesn’t need to be shelled for roasting or salting and is served in it’s own natural “wrapper,” an instant fast food.
The pistachio’s uncommon combination of health benefits and sweet flavor make this nut an ideal food for healthy cooking. Pistachio crusted pork scallopini, pistachio nut ice cream and pistachio brownies…if you have a weakness for these gorgeous nuts then you are sure to be salivating by now! Pistachios are a heavenly tasting nut that is found in many recipes today, but an added bonus of these delicious nuts is the remarkable health benefits which come from pistachio consumption.
As is known, most nuts have health benefits but the humble pistachio ranks close to the top as the healthiest nut. Studies have shown that a regular intake of pistachios which are packed with proteins, vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats and will reduce (LDL) low density lipoproteins in the blood.
The pistachio health benefits and nutritional benefits of the nuts are listed below:
1. Pistachios improve eyesight
They improve the eyesight because they have a large amount of vitamin A which is the best vitamin for the eyes thus helping to prevent macular degeneration.
2. Pistachios aid weight loss
Pistachios also known as “the skinny nut”, aid in weight reduction as the dietary fiber, fat and proteins induce a feeling of fullness so there will be less chance overeating. By eating a couple of handfuls a day they will remove unwanted cholesterol in the body and will nourish our brain cells.
3. Pistachios are high in antioxidants
As pistachio nuts are high in antioxidant they can help protect the body from free radicals and being rich in gamma tocopherol cancer can be prevented.
4. Pistachios boost immune function
Pistachio nuts will help boost the immune system by building up the blood and promoting a better blood supply.
Phosphorous which is present in pistachios helps to break down proteins into amino acid with are essential for hormone production and to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. A handful of nuts reduces the absorption of glucose in our body.
5. Pistachios are heart-healthy
For a healthy heart pistachios are a must. As they are a source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids they have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol (bad fats) while at the same time increasing HDL (good fats) cholesterol leading to reduced blood pressure which is key when it comes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular illness.
Pistachios improve digestion because they are rich in dietary fiber. Fiber aids in proper digestion of food and assists in growth of good bacteria which is important for improving digestive efficiency.
6. Pistachios improve endocrine system function
The spleen and the thymus are glands that become healthier by consuming pistachios which help to supply the blood with more white blood cells that are needed to fight infections of the body.
7. Pistachios are good for your skin
The different antioxidants in the pistachio makes it beneficial to the skin by helping to protect against the suns harmful rays and the vitamin E assists in protecting cell membranes. The essential oils contain in pistachios help stop skin dryness,and pigmentation.
8. Pistachios mediate stress levels
Pistachio nuts are a rich source of B vitamins particularly vitamin B6 why forms an insulating cover around nerve fiber meaning that there is proper transportation of nerve signals. Melatonin, GABA and serotonin which are produced by vitamin B6 reduce stress in the nervous system.
9. Pistachios help build strong bones and teeth
Pistachios have a high calcium content that is essential for strong bones and teeth.
10. Pistachios are good for your hair and skin
Pistachio nuts can help to combat hair loss because they are high in biotin. Biotin deficiency is a key factor in hair loss. Biotin (also known as vitamin B7) is also important for healthy skin.
11. Pistachios reduce inflammation
Proanthocyanidins are an anti inflammatory compound contained the pistachio nut and has the ability to reduce inflammation.
The health benefits of pistachios are scientifically proven
A recent study has shown that a 3 week pistachio diet brought about a significant improvement in men who were suffering from erectile dysfunction. This is due to the fact that erectile dysfunction can be caused by high serum cholesterol levels, cardiac problems, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. As the pistachio nut is a rich source of plant proteins and antioxidants, low in saturated fatty acids and rich in unsaturated fatty acids this improved circulation to penile tissue therefor improving erectile dysfunction. Results of this study were published in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
Eat pistachios as a convenient, healthy snack
Pistachio nuts are of particular importance to an athlete whether it is a world class olympian training for competition or somebody exercising for fitness. These power packed superfoods are a fantastic portable snack for fuelling up during exercise or refuelling after a gruelling race. There have been studies carried out which have shown that by ingesting protein before exercising there can be a great reduction in post exercise soreness.
After regular consumption of the pistachio the benefits that you will get are:
- Improved cardiovascular function
- Regulated energy supplies
- Greatly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke
- Stabilized blood sugar levels
- Improved nerves
- Inhibits growth of cancer cells
- Reduces skin conditions such as eczema
- Prevention of headaches
- Improved energy levels
- Improved concentration
- Stronger bones
- Protection from type 2 diabetes
- Lowered risk of high blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Protection from free radicals
- One ounce 9 (47 nuts) of pistachios contains the following nutrients:
- 310 mg potassium
- 1.9 mg iron
- 3.1 gm dietary fiber
- 44.9 mg magnesium
- 16.5 mcg folic acid
- 38.3 mg calcium
- 2 mg vitamin C
- 66 IU vitamin A
One ounce of pistachios has more than 10% of daily dietary fiber, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, thiamine and vitamin B6. See below for the full nutrition facts:
There are pistachio supplements out there that still have the same benefits as the nuts and they can have other uses too. Pistachio oil and nut extract capsules are available from health food stores although the oil can sometimes be difficult to find and a bit pricey, it is definitely worth investing in, and can be a good alternative to try out. These are a good option for getting your daily dose and the advantage of the capsules is they are low in calories and easily consumed. The oil can be used as a moisturizer and will leave you with smooth, silky, glowing skin. As the pistachio contains a lot of vitamin E it will fight the aging process and keep the skin looking younger. When used on the hair pistachio oil can treat split ends, while nourishing and deeply moisturizing.
Incorporating pistachio nuts into your daily diet is easy and relatively cheap as the pistachio is cheaper to buy than a lot of other nuts but has many more health benefits.
Crushing the nuts and sprinkling them over a salad or coating a piece of salmon in pistachios, there are numerous ways of getting your daily intake. There is so much information out there on how to use pistachio nuts in cooking and baking as well as informing you of the health benefits that you should never be short of any meal ideas.
Pistachios actually produce their own salt which is done by saltification so make sure you don’t go adding anymore to them. When buying pistachio nuts you can store them easily for up to six months in the freezer or four months in the refrigerator by storing them in an airtight container.
Due to the high content of amino acids it is believed that the pistachio nut is an aphrodisiac, people in Arabic countries always been aware of these properties and have been consuming the pistachio of a very long time for this purpose. In Lebanon the leaves were even used to enhance fertility.
With more and more people going back to a natural way of eating and many following paleo or vegan diets, eating pistachios has never been so important. With all of its major health benefits this little green nut should become a staple of most peoples diets and maybe if this was the case we would see a reduction in 21st century illness and diseases such as stress, cancer and high blood pressure.
It is little wonder that February 26 is official pistachio day and there are so many websites, articles and organizations devoted to this wonderfood. It is quite surprising to learn that the first commercial crop of pistachios was not harvested by Americans until 1976, with California now producing 300 million pounds of pistachio nuts. China is the biggest consumer with a whopping 80,000 tons annual consumption followed by the USA with 45,000 tons, Russia 15,000 tons and India 10,000 tons.
It seems the whole world is realizing the important health benefits of the pistachio nut and not surprisingly more and more people are beginning to realize that by eating just a half a cup of these beautiful tasting, tiny little nuts they can prolong their life, avoid cancer, heart disease, diabetes and save their eyesight. While at the same time doing fantastic things for your skin, hair, bones and teeth as well as your libido. The health benefits of pistachios cannot be overlooked and unless you have a nut allergy there are no side effects except the possibility of becoming totally addicted to them!
Make sure you enjoy pistachio with all your meals, in your ice cream and in your cookies and cake, with a pistachio milkshake on the side!