Pistachios as a great source of various nutrients, are hugely consumed all over the world as a healthy food and snack. Pistachios are mostly grow in Iran and they have traditional uses as a medicine because they have lots of health benefits. Overtaking of them may causes some health problems too but moderate uses have lots of health benefits for us. This article presents nutrition facts of pistachios and also their side effects.
Nutrition facts of pistachio:
Pistachio nutrition facts are mentioned bellow based on one ounce (28 grams):
- Calories, 159
Per serving of pistachio includes 159 calories. Calories are source of energy which are essential for health. Among this amount, 116 calories are from fat. Although there is a reputation that nuts are high-fat food, scientific research indicates that type of fat is more important than the amount of fat.
Total fat of each serving is 13 grams, which %90 are healthy fat, including:
Saturated Fat, 1.7g
Polyunsaturated Fat, 3.5g
Monounsaturated Fat, 7g
Trans fat, 0g
- Saturated fats benefits:
They have great benefits for heart and circulatory system. Pistachios include Stearic and Lauric Acid and they can regulate cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing levels of lipoprotein.
- Polyunsaturated Fat benefits:
Reducing heart disease risk by having low LDL (bad) cholesterol. Cholesterol as a soft and waxy substance can cause clogged or blocked blood vessels. Polyunsaturated Fat causes lower LDL cholesterol.
- Monounsaturated Fat benefits:
Reducing the risk of heart disease and inflammation, also helping with weight loss.
- Trans fat benefits:
Raising LDL cholesterol levels and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, also they are associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Based on what mentioned above, pistachios are one of the lowest in fat in compare of other nuts. They are also free from Trans-fat as they are unhealthy fat.
- Sodium, 3 mg
Per serving of pistachio includes 0.3 mg Sodium. In case of salted or roasted verities, it may reach to 121 mg of sodium. Heart disease and high blood pressure may be increased by using too much sodium. The benefits of sodium are as bellow:
- Sodium benefits:
Helping body`s fluid balance control, sending nerve impulses and effecting muscle function. High blood pressure can be avoided and lowered by consuming less mount of sodium in diet.
- Potassium, 291mg
All nuts include some potassium, but the highest amount is for pistachio. The other high potassium nuts are: almonds, cashew, peanut, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and chestnuts. Take a glance at potassium benefits bellow.
- Potassium benefits:
Regulating fluid balance nerve signals and muscle contractions. It also reduces blood pressure and water retention. stroke, osteoporosis and kidney stones can also be prevented by having high-potassium diet.
- Carbohydrate, 7 g
About 8 grams of carbohydrate in our body can be provided by a serving of pistachio, and also %12 of the daily value of fiber. Pistachios also are good sources of plant protein and healthy fats. To know more about carbohydrate, read the following paragraph.
- Carbohydrate benefits:
It is such as fuel for kidney, heart, brain, central nervous system and muscle. Carbohydrate includes fiber that aids indigestion and helps feel full and keep blood cholesterol levels in check.
- Dietary fiber 3 g
Pistachios are great source of fiber. Our body`s required amount of fiber can be provided by pistachio, it is about %12 of daily value. The benefits of dietary fiber are as bellow:
- Dietary fiber benefits:
Preventing stroke, diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and certain gastrointestinal disease by having dietary fiber diet. Lowering blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels.
- Sugar, 2 g
Due to low glycemic index in pistachios, they do not increase blood sugar sharply. Having pistachio regularly, may reduce diabetes risk and blood sugar level. Even significant drops in insulin levels and blood sugar were experienced by people who were suffering from prediabetes. They ate 2 ounces of pistachios every day. Sugar benefits includes:
- Sugar benefits:
Essential for brain health, lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart attack risk and making us less likely to develop dementia.
- Protein, 7 g
Pistachios are good source of plant protein. Protein as one of the main required substances in our body, has many benefits, including:
- Protein benefits:
Main building block of muscles, bones, blood, skin and cartilage, making hormones, enzymes and other body chemicals, being used to repair and build tissues.
Pistachios as a healthy nut are also great source of various vitamins including, vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, vitamin D, and Cobalamin or Vitamin B 12. Benefits of each one are mentioned bellow.
- Vitamin A benefits: %2.9
Protecting eye from night blindness and age-related decline, lowering risk of certain cancer, supporting a healthy immune system, reducing risk of acne, supporting bone health, promoting healthy growth and reproduction.
- Vitamin C benefits: %2.7
Vital for development, repair and growth of all body tissues, involving in body functions such as absorption of iron, wound healing, formation of collagen, the immune system, and maintenance of bones, teeth and cartilage.
- Vitamin B6 benefits:
Promoting brain health and reducing Alzheimer`s risk, preventing clogged arteries, reducing heart disease risk, improving mood and reducing depression symptoms, treating nausea during pregnancy, treating and preventing anemia by aiding hemoglobin production, being useful in treating PMC symptoms.
- Cobalamin or Vitamin B 12 benefits:
Forming red blood cell and preventing anemia, preventing major birth defects, supporting bone health and preventing osteoporosis, reducing macular degeneration risk, improving mood and depression symptoms, benefiting brain by preventing the loss of neurons.
- Vitamin D benefits:
Maintaining teeth and bones health, supporting brain, immune and nervous system health, regulating insulin levels and diabetes, and also supporting cardiovascular health and lung function.
- Calcium, %3
Almonds include the highest amount of calcium among nuts. Pistachio also contains about %3 of calcium in each serving. It can be concluded that pistachios have effects on bone density. Other beneficial results of calcium are mentioned bellow:
- Calcium benefits:
Building and maintaining strong bones, being needed for muscles, heart, and nerves to work properly. Calcium along with Vitamin D protects our body against cancer, diabetes, and blood pressure. It is good for bone health.
- Iron, %6.2
In compare of all popular nuts varieties, pistachio contains the highest amount of iron. It is about %6.2 per serving, nearly 4 times more than almonds or cashews. Iron`s benefits include:
- Iron benefits:
Being needed for immune system function, hemoglobin boosting and anemia treating, eliminating fatigue and its sources.
Health benefits of pistachio
- Helpful to lose weight
As it was mentioned above, although pistachios are a high-fat, calorie-dense nuts, they are associated with weight lost or maintaining weight, along with the reduction in body mass index (BMI). That is due to type of fat, not the amount of fat.
Based on some studies, people who were eating pistachio as an afternoon snack for 12 weeks, had great decrease in MBI and also reducing in triglyceride levels, in compare of a group who had the same amount of pretzels.
In the other case, the result of 6-month study presents decreasing in waistline and reduction in LDL-cholesterol levels among people who provided %20 of daily calories from pistachios.
Also it was shown in a behavioral study, that consumption in-shell pistachio provides %41 fewer calories than shelled pistachio.
- Gut health benefits
Prebiotics is type of fiber which feed good bacteria in gut. As pistachios are good source of prebiotics, having pistachios led to increase the number of good bacteria that fights short-chain fatty acid and increases lactic acid bacteria in gut. Consumption 3 ounces of pistachio daily increases helpful gut bacteria, much more than having almonds instead.
- Beneficial for heart health
Pistachios are nutrient-packed nuts, that most of mentioned minerals have positive effects on heart health. Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels can be reduced by consuming pistachio daily. Pistachios improve HDL cholesterol level and reduce blood pressure so they prevent heart disease.
It is also reported that the risk of cardiovascular disease will be reduced by having two portions of pistachio each day.
- Blood sugar balance
Pistachios may lower the blood sugar and the risk of diabetes because they have low glycemic index. The result of one study presented that having pistachio with high carbohydrate food may reduce blood sugar and glucose levels.
Fasting blood sugar can be reduced by consuming 25 grams of pistachio as a snack twice a day.
Therefore, if you are interested to control your blood sugar, you can easily add pistachio to your diet.
- Lower Gestational Diabetes
Some pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. It causes high blood glucose that can affect both mother and baby health. based on the result of a study among pregnant women, having pistachio during pregnancy will significantly lower in blood sugar and insulin levels.
So the benefit of consuming pistachios during pregnancy is proved by scientific research.
- Beneficial for eye health
Pistachios as a rich source of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are good for eye health because they reduce the chances of developing AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and cataracts. One of the main reasons of blindness in the United States is cataracts and AMD.
To prevent developing of these eye disease, having a healthful diet including pistachio is recommended.
- Lowering cancer risk
The impact of fiber on reduction of cancer risk is proved scientifically. Pistachios are high fiber nuts, so they may reduce the cancer risk, specially colon cancer.
Some researches show that roasted pistachios have no effect on colon cancer risk.
- Help Erectile Dysfunction
Quality of life in men depends on some reasons. Erectile dysfunction is mentioned as a main reason of decreased quality life among men. Also there is a link between heart attack and impotence.
As pistachios are high in antioxidants, and antioxidants have a Viagra-like effect of increasing nitric oxide production, having three to four handful of pistachios daily for three weeks improves blood flow through the penis and significantly firmer erections.
Therefore, the pistachio effect on sexual function is represented by some studies.
- Improving Brain Function
To be more focused and attentive at work is related to some factors, such as eating protein, fiber, grains, getting more sleep, etc. Loma Linda University (LLU) did a study and they found having nuts regularly improve brain function and brainwave frequencies which are related to learning, memory, and cognition. Pistachio produced greatest gamma waves compared with other nuts, which are essential for learning, perception, information retention, and cognitive processing.
Having pistachio daily causes our brain to work better and improve our concentration.
- Prevent early aging
Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and copper are essential minerals to protect and improve skin and hair health. Vitamin E helps skin to stop aging and protect it from UV damage. Vitamin B6 improves overall health of hair and skin and copper is needed to produce skin elastin. All these contents are found in pistachios, so pistachios are helpful to preserve skin health.
Side effects of pistachio
Pistachios are rich sources of nutrients and they have lots of health benefits, but at the same time, there could have some side effects and risk if we have too many pistachios, specially roasted and salted types. Their side effects are mentioned briefly in bellow:
- Gain weight
As it was mentioned above, pistachios are helpful for weight management, but due to their delicious taste specifically salted type, may cause gaining weight instead. If you want to enjoy pistachios as a healthy snack, please mind taking a handful of it daily.
- Potential high blood pressure
Our body requires about 2000 mg of sodium each day, but too much sodium is dangerous for our health. it causes hypertension and blood pressure and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Allergic reactions
If you are suffering from nuts allergy, you should avoid having pistachios, as you are most likely to be allergic to pistachios. Feeling itchy skin, pain, or in some cases difficulty in breathing are most common symptoms of nuts allergy.
- Kidney Stone Risk
Anyone who is suffering from kidney disease can consume moderate amount of pistachios, but there is a risk of development of calcium oxalate and cystine kidney stones in case of consuming high quantity of pistachios.
- Digestive problems
The benefits of dietary fibers in pistachios are proved for stomach and digestive system. Pistachios also contain “Fructan” which may bother who are allergic to it so it can rise digestive problems.
- High Manganese Risk
Although manganese is helpful for health, its overeating causes some health risk. Consumption of high manganese food is not recommended for individuals who are suffering from chronic liver diseases, parkinsonism, polycythemia, and hyper manganesemia.
- Health risk of Pesticides and Insecticides
Pesticides and Insecticides are mostly used in pistachio orchards to protect them from pests’ attack. Nausea and other allergic reactions are the symptoms of having pistachios which are highly exposed to pesticides and insecticides.
- Bacterium Salmonella Risk
Bacterium salmonella is kind of harmful bacteria for our health. if the pistachios are contaminated by bacterium salmonella, they may be fatal for elderly and infants. If pistachios are roasted properly, they are safe to eat as bacterium salmonella can be killed by roasting pistachio properly.
Pistachios as one of the nutrient nuts have lots of health benefits for all people, including heart health, gut health, weight management, eye health, blood sugar balance, controlling diabetes risk, lowering cancer risk, sexual function, improving brain function and prevent aging. Actually overeating of them is not good for our health and may causes some problems. Therefore, moderate consumption of pistachios has no bad effects for our health.