Pistachios are among the top 10 most expensive nuts globally. Pistachios are green-hued, sweet nuts which are one of the oldest nuts and have also been mentioned in Bible.
These nuts are believed to have originated in the Middle East and Central Asia. This is supported by the climate of these regions. Pistachio trees grow best and produce the maximum nuts in a climate with long, dry, hot summers and cool but not frigid winters. Pistachio trees thrive on heat. Summer temperatures of 37 degrees Celcius produce large quantities of qualitatively best nuts.
Pistachio nuts are not only delicious to eat but also highly nutritious. These nuts are rich in a variety of nutrients & may help to support weight loss, gut health, blood sugar control & cardiovascular health. They are highly versatile & can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes.
Here, we discuss four major health benefits of pistachio nuts:
1.Why should you eat pistachios instead of almonds?
Pistachios are one of the low oxalate nuts while almonds got the maximum amount of oxalates. If you are prone to have kidney stones or if you have arthritis or even if even you are in some way sensitive to oxalates in general, then this is the ideal nut for you. One ounce of almonds, or about 22 nuts, contains a massive 122 milligrams of oxalates.
Almond 1 ounce (22 kernels) 122 mg
Cashew 18 (1 ounce) 49 mg
Peanut 1 ounce 27 mg
Pistachio 48 (1 ounce) 14 mg
Trail mix 1 ounce 15 mg
Walnuts 7 whole walnuts in shells 31mg
When we eat oxalate containing foods, it passes through the intestines. Oxalate can bind with calcium and get excreted in the stool. However, when too much oxalate goes to the kidneys, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common type of kidney stone diagnosed in U.S. The higher the levels of oxalate, the greater is the risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Oxalate arthritis can occur from deposition of calcium oxalate crystals within the bones, tendons, cartilage, & synovium. From all these sites, the crystals can gain entry into the synovial fluid where they initiate an inflammatory response.
2. Antioxidant rich
Antioxidants are vital to our health.
Multiple studies have assessed the antioxidant capacity of pistachios and proved that pistachios contain a range of antioxidant compounds that may be beneficial to overall health from anti-inflammatory & antimicrobial activity to slowing down brain aging & preventing heart disease.
Pistachios contain a higher amount of antioxidants than many other varieties of nuts & seeds, according to some older studies.
A recent study conducted by Cornell University & published in the journal Nutrients found that pistachios have a really high antioxidant capacity. Surprisingly, the antioxidant capacity of pistachios rivals that of top antioxidant powerhouses, such as blueberries, pomegranates, cherries & red wine.
Researchers believe that the high antioxidant activity of pistachios is due to the unique compounds found in pistachios including vitamin E, carotenoids, phenolics & flavonoids. The rich combination or interaction of these beneficial antioxidants, bioactive compounds, along with other nutrients found in pistachios, is likely what contributes to the numerous health benefits seen in pistachio studies.
Antioxidants prevent cell damage(cell damage is major reason of ageing) & play a major role in reducing the risk of certain conditions, like cancer.
Pistachios are a rich source of antioxidants, including lutein, β-carotene, and γ-tocopherol in addition to containing selenium, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins.
These nuts are especially rich in lutein & zeaxanthin, both of these antioxidants are very important for eye health.
These antioxidant compounds protect our eyes from damage caused by blue light & age-related macular degeneration, a condition in which central vision is impaired or lost.
In a 2010 study, it was found that, people who ate either one or two servings of pistachios everyday for 4 weeks had higher levels of two antioxidants, lutein and vitamin E, compared to those who did not eat the nuts.
Two of the most abundant groups of antioxidants in pistachios, polyphenols & tocopherols, may help protect against cancer and heart disease.
Pistachios have the antioxidant ALA(alpha-linolenic acid) in good amount which is a precursor to bioavailable forms of omega-3-fatty acids EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) & DHA(docosahexaenoic acid).
Interestingly, the best thing is that the antioxidants in pistachios are highly bioavailable. Therefore, they are absorbed at a higher rate during digestion.
Oxidized LDL-cholesterol & lipid peroxidation products are found in high concentrations in atherosclerotic plaques and these are thought to play a significant role in the development & progression of atherosclerosis.
This suggests that a heart-healthy diet including pistachios can contribute to the decrease in the serum oxidized-LDL concentration through cholesterol-lowering properties of these nuts and also with the high antioxidant content
3. Pistachios: Good Source of Vitamin B1 & Vitamin B6
Pistachio nuts contain several vitamins, however they are particularly rich in Vitamin B1(Thiamine) & Vitamin B6. A one ounce or 28-gram serving of about 49 pistachios provides 28% of the DV(daily value) of Vitamin B6 & 21% of the DV of Vitamin B1.
Notably, pistachios are the richest nut in Vitamin B6 along with Hazelnuts. Almond, the king nut contains far less vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is important for several body functions, like blood sugar regulation, maintaining nerve function & the formation of hemoglobin. It helps to deal with stress & anxiety.
Thiamine or Vitamin B1 is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates to provide energy. It also plays role in muscle contraction & conduction of nerve impulse.
4. Pistachios: Rich in several minerals
Pistachio nuts are a source of magnesium. They provide 8% of DV(daily value).
One of the major role of magnesium is to act as a cofactor, which is a helper molecule in the biochemical reactions performed by enzymes in our body. It’s involved in more than 600 such biochemical reactions.
Magnesium is one of the key electrolytes to maintain a healthy heart rhythm as it’s involved in transporting other electrolytes, like calcium and potassium, into cells. Electrolytes are required for nerve signals & muscle contractions of a normal heart beat.
Magnesium helps to provide relief from muscle cramps. It is involved in making energy. It helps to relax the body & thereby helps to deal with stress & insomnia.
Pistachio nuts contain a good amount of copper.
Just a one ounce or 28g serving of about 49 nuts provides 41% of DV(daily value) of copper.
Copper works with iron in the formation of red blood cells & also helps in the absorption of iron. It also helps keep the blood vessels, nerves, immune system & bones healthy.
Pistachio nuts provide 15% of DV of Manganese which is a strong antioxidant, plays role in metabolism, connective tissue & bone formation.
These nuts also provide 11% of DV of phosphorous which is involved in energy production, formation of bones & teeth.
They also provide 6% of DV of potassium which helps to maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. Potassium also helps in muscle contraction & supports normal blood pressure.
While eating nuts has many health benefits, they’re typically high in calories.
While eating common nuts like walnuts and pecans provides many health benefits, they’re typically high in calories. However, pistachios are low in calories.
Each oz (28 g) of pistachios contains 159 calories, compared with 185 calories in walnuts and 196 calories in pecans.
With protein comprising about 14% of their calorie content, pistachios are second only to almonds when it comes to protein content.
Pistachios are rich in essential amino acids, which are amino acids that must be obtained through diet, as our body cannot make them. Arginine is an essential amino acid that plays role in the function of blood vessels.
Endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is characterized by reduced vasodilation, which leads to decreased blood flow & increased blood pressure.
Nitric oxide is a compound that plays a major role in vasodilation. It causes blood vessels to dilate by signaling the smooth cells of endothelium to relax.
Like most other nuts, pistachios are a source of the amino acid L-arginine which is converted into nitric oxide in body.
One study in 42 people who consumed 1.5 oz (40 g) of pistachio nuts a day for a period of 3 months showed improvement in markers of endothelial function & vascular stiffness.
Proper blood flow is important for a number of body functions, including erectile function..
Pistachios contain chlorophyll which is a good healer in general. It can heal the inner skin irritation of inside of esophagus & the whole digestive tract.
Pistachio nuts have a low glycemic index & they help to control post meal blood sugar spikes.
Pistachios are a good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, several minerals & vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and thiamine. They are low in oxalates & high in antioxidants. With a rich nutrient profile, they possess tendency for myriad health benefits.