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Health Benefits of Pistachios

written by: Anurag Ghosh • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 4/20/2011

Pistachios are pale-green colored nuts that add flavor to various cuisines and desserts. Approved by the USDA and the FDA, pistachios are a part of a heart-healthy snack. There are many health benefits of pistachios, including weight-loss and cardiovascular benefits.

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    Pistachio Health Benefits

    Health Benefits of Pistachios Pistachio is a delicious nut that adds flavor to various middle-eastern and Indian cuisines. You will also find delectable pistachio-flavored ice cream with cashews. Along with cashew nuts and almonds, the pale green-colored nut is considered a health-healthy snack. The pistachio plant belongs to the Anacardiaceae plant family and is one of the world’s oldest plants native to middle-eastern countries and the Indian subcontinent. According to studies conducted by various research institutes, these nuts are lowest in saturated fats. There are several health benefits of pistachios, which is why the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the USDA have approved them to be included in the American diet.

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    Pistachio Nutrients

    Pistachios are rich in nutrients. According to the USDA Nutrient database:

    • Pistachios are rich in dietary fiber.
    • They are good sources of vitamins, such as Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9 (Folate) and Vitamin B3 (Niacin).
    • Pistachios are also rich sources of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and potassium.
    • Pistachios are excellent sources of protein.
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    Eating Pistachios Increases the Antioxidant Levels

    Eating pistachio nuts as part of a healthy diet can elevate antioxidant levels. According to the researchers of the Pennsylvania State University, eating healthy pistachio-enriched diets produce high blood serum levels of gamma-tocopherol and lutein, which are known to decrease oxidized-LDL (low density lipoprotein).

    The study confirmed the health benefits of pistachios in decreasing LDL and lipids, which are some of the main causes of heart disease. A healthy diet containing pistachio nuts decreases oxidized LDL levels, lowers cholesterol levels and increases the antioxidant levels.

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    Pistachios: Great Snack Alternative for People on a Strict Diet Regime

    A research conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conclude that pistachios contain very few calories. A 30-gram serving contains only 160 calories. The research confirms that pistachios are one of those nuts that contain lowest calories and hence are the perfect snack candidates of a weight-loss regime. Researchers at the University of California have recommended pistachios as one of the best and healthy snacks one should consume while on a diet. Pistachio nuts are much better than pretzels as they support BMI goals and are a good heart healthy snack.

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    Pistachio-Enriched Diet Reduces Our Body’s Reaction to Stress.

    Eating around 30 ounces of pistachio nuts regularly helps alleviate stress. According to a recent study conducted by Penn State University researchers, eating pistachios can reduce our body’s response to stress. The 10-year study investigated the effects of pistachio nuts on individuals with high cholesterol. The subjects were told to follow a four-week diet regime consisting of a healthy pistachio-enriched diet. After the end of each 4-week diet regime, researchers conducted physical and psychological tests. The tests confirmed that the healthy pistachio-enhanced diet decreased the effects of stress on blood pressure.

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    Consumption Tips

    To enjoy the health benefits of pistachios nuts either fresh or roasted and salted can be consumed, however the roasted and salted ones are high in sodium. If you want to add pistachio to your heart-healthy snacks list, then you must eat fresh, without any added salt. Since the FDA has approved pistachio because of the qualified health claims [1], it is safe to consume the pistachio nut. The health claims suggest that nuts like pistachios are low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

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    References

    [1] “Qualified Health Claims: Letter of Enforcement Discretion - Nuts and Coronary Heart Disease” http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/LabelClaims/QualifiedHealthClaims/ucm072926.htm

    "Pistachio Nutrients": http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/

    “Pistachios offer multiple health benefits” http://live.psu.edu/story/46857

    “Pistachios May Calm Acute Stress Reaction” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430155822.htm

    “Pistachios Deliver Weight Management Support, Heart Health Benefits and Are One of the Lowest-Calorie Nuts” http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-04/fi-pdw040811.php

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