Top 5 health benefits of pistachio nuts

These colourful little nuts are nutrient-dense and packed with heart-healthy fats, but are there other health benefits that set pistachios apart? Registered nutritionist Kerry Torrens explains.

What are pistachio nuts?

A popular ingredient in desserts and puddings, pistachios or “green nuts” add a splash of colour to dishes; these edible seeds of the Pistacia veratree are a source of healthy fats, protein, fibre and protective antioxidants.

Nutritional profile of pistachio nuts

A 30g serving of pistachio provides:

  • 169 kcals/706KJ
  • 6.1g Protein
  • 13.6g Fat
  • 1.7g Saturated fat
  • 7.1g Mono-unsaturated fat
  • 4.1g Poly-unsaturated fat
  • 5.4g Carbohydrates
  • 3.1g Fibre
  • 308mg Potassium
  • 1.18g Iron
  • 1.37mg Vitamin E

Top 5 health benefits of pistachio nuts

Shelled pistachio nuts scattered in a heap

1. Antioxidant-rich

The pigments that give pistachios their unique green and purple colour have protective antioxidant properties. Of all the tree nuts, pistachios are particularly high in these compounds with only walnuts and pecans providing more.

2. Heart-healthy

Compared to most nuts, pistachios have a lower fat and calorie content and contain the highest amount of potassium. They’re especially rich in phytosterols, all of which support cardiovascular health.

Pistachios are also a useful source of the amino acid L-arginine, which we convert to the blood pressure-lowering compound, nitric oxide.

3. May support eye health

Pistachios are the only nut to provide reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that play an important role in protecting the eyes as we age.

4. May support weight management

Pistachios may be a useful inclusion in a weight management programme, as well as having a lower calorie and fat content than most other nuts, they also have a reduced net metabolizable energy content– which means we don’t digest and absorb all of their calorific value. Being rich in fibre they also help keep us full and satiated.

These attributes were demonstrated in a study of overweight adults who reported reductions in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference combined with favourable changes to dietary habits.

5. May manage blood sugar levels

Pistachios are rich in fibre, healthy fats and protective antioxidants so it’s not unreasonable to expect them to be a useful addition to a balanced diet. Research on healthy adults also suggests adding pistachios to a high-carb meal may lower our overall blood sugar response.

Similar benefits have been seen in studies examining the blood sugar effects of pistachio nuts on those with type 2 diabetes. All of this suggests that as well as having a low glycaemic value(GI), pistachio nuts offer other valuable blood sugar management benefits.

Are pistachio nuts safe for everyone?

People with an allergy to tree nuts should avoid pistachios. Allergy symptoms normally develop within minutes, and you should see your GP if you experience an adverse reaction. However, if this develops into a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, it is a medical emergency and immediate help should be sought.

Young children, some older people and those with a problem swallowing should avoid whole nuts due to the risk of choking.

Visit the NHS website to read more about allergies.

Via Good Food.