8 Wonderful Benefits of Pistachios

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

The health benefits of pistachios may include a healthy heart, weight management, prevention of macular degeneration, and hypertension, as well as improved digestion. It can also boost blood, brain, and skin health.

What are Pistachios?

Pistachios are one of the oldest edible nuts and are commonly used in cooking and as snacks worldwide. Pistachio nuts belong to the Anacardiaceae family from the genus Pistacia, and a tree takes about 10 to 12 years to produce the first crop. They are drupe, where the fruit has a large seed in the center, which is edible. Pistachio nuts are not seasonal and are available all year long.

Nutrition Facts

Pistachios are one of the few nuts that contain a well-rounded balance of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, amino acids, fats, and dietary fiber. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, they are also rich in minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and sodium. They also provide you with essential vitamins like B-vitamins, vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as choline and betaine. Pistachios have a lower calorie and fat content compared to many other nuts and dry fruits of similar quantities. [1] [2]

Watch Video: 4 Surprising Benefits Of Pistachios

4 Surprising Benefits Of Pistachios | Organic Facts

Health Benefits of Pistachios

The major health benefits of pistachios include:

Potential Antioxidant Properties

Pistachios offer an array of potential antioxidant properties that can be a significant boost to your health. Even the shells of pistachios, as revealed in a study published in the Journal of Food Chemistry, are packed with antioxidants that can help neutralize free radicals generated during cellular metabolism, potentially reducing the risk of conditions like cancer and heart disease. [4]

Pistachios are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, including gamma-tocopherols, phytochemicals, and polyphenols. These elements play a pivotal role in preventing cell damage and reducing the risk of conditions such as cancer. [5] [6]

Notably, pistachios are abundant in lutein and zeaxanthin, crucial antioxidants for preserving eye health.These antioxidants shield your eyes from harm caused by blue light and conditions like age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to impaired or lost central vision. [7] [8] [9]

In a 2010 study, individuals who consumed one or two servings of pistachios daily for four weeks exhibited elevated levels of two essential antioxidants: lutein and vitamin E, compared to those who did not include pistachios in their diet. [10]

Moreover, the diverse group of antioxidants in pistachios, particularly polyphenols, and tocopherols, may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease . [11] [12] [13]

What’s intriguing is that these antioxidants in pistachios are highly bioavailable, making them more likely to be absorbed during digestion. [14]

May Promote Heart Health

These nutrient-packed nuts offer a range of heart-friendly elements, including antioxidants, phytosterols, and unsaturated fatty acids that help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the body. [15]

Furthermore, pistachios are a rich source of l-arginine, an amino acid that plays a pivotal role in preventing arterial hardening and blood clot formation. A comprehensive review from 2016 underlines the cardiovascular benefits of consuming pistachios, which can lead to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels. [16] [17]

In a 2015 analysis of 21 studies, it was discovered that nuts, including pistachios, could significantly lower blood pressure, particularly in individuals without type 2 diabetes. Among all the nuts studied, pistachios had the most substantial impact on reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure. [18]

Studies further support this notion, with one involving 42 individuals who consumed 1.5 oz of pistachios daily for 3 months, showing improvements in markers of endothelial function and vascular stiffness. Another 4-week study with 32 males found that a diet comprising 20% of calories from pistachios led to a 30% improvement in endothelium-dependent vasodilation compared to a Mediterranean diet. [19] [20]

Nutrition Facts

Nuts, pistachio nuts, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]4.37
Energy 560
Energy [kJ]2342
Protein [g]20.16
Total lipid (fat) [g]45.32
Ash [g]2.99
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]27.17
Fiber, total dietary [g]10.6
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]7.66
Sucrose [g]6.87
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.32
Fructose [g]0.24
Maltose [g]0.17
Starch [g]1.67
Calcium, Ca [mg]105
Iron, Fe [mg]3.92
Magnesium, Mg [mg]121
Phosphorus, P [mg]490
Potassium, K [mg]1025
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.2
Copper, Cu [mg]1.3
Manganese, Mn [mg]1.2
Selenium, Se [µg]7
Fluoride, F [µg]3.4
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]5.6
Thiamin [mg]0.87
Riboflavin [mg]0.16
Niacin [mg]1.3
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.52
Vitamin B-6 [mg]1.7
Folate, total [µg]51
Folate, food [µg]51
Folate, DFE [µg]51
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]26
Carotene, beta [µg]305
Carotene, alpha [µg]10
Vitamin A, IU [IU]516
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]2903
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]2.86
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]20.41
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.8
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]1.67
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]5.91
6:0 [g]0.01
10:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0.02
16:0 [g]5.27
17:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]0.48
20:0 [g]0.05
22:0 [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]23.26
16:1 [g]0.5
18:1 [g]22.67
20:1 [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]14.38
18:2 [g]14.09
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]14.09
18:3 [g]0.29
Phytosterols [mg]214
Stigmasterol [mg]5
Campesterol [mg]10
Beta-sitosterol [mg]198
Tryptophan [g]0.25
Threonine [g]0.68
Isoleucine [g]0.92
Leucine [g]1.6
Lysine [g]1.14
Methionine [g]0.36
Cystine [g]0.29
Phenylalanine [g]1.09
Tyrosine [g]0.51
Valine [g]1.25
Arginine [g]2.13
Histidine [g]0.51
Alanine [g]0.97
Aspartic acid [g]1.88
Glutamic acid [g]4.3
Glycine [g]1.01
Proline [g]0.94
Serine [g]1.28
Sources include : USDA [21]

May Aid in Weight Management

Research from the Center for Human Nutrition in California validates the weight management properties of pistachios. Their high fiber and protein content play a vital role in enhancing the feeling of fullness, aiding in the control of calorie intake. Although limited, studies on the effects of pistachios on weight have shown promising results. [22] [23]

One comprehensive review of 11 studies suggests a potential link between regular pistachio consumption and a reduction in body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat. However, it’s worth noting that pistachios didn’t lead to significant changes in body weight or abdominal fat. [24]

An older 24-week study involving individuals with excess weight revealed that those who incorporated 20% of their daily calories from pistachios lost an impressive 1.5 centimeters (0.6 inches) more from their waistline compared to those who didn’t include pistachios in their diet. [25]

 A study conducted in 2011 even highlighted that individuals who consumed in-shell pistachios consumed 41% fewer calories than those who opted for shelled pistachios.

May Aid in Digestion

Pistachios offer an appetizing solution to promote healthy digestion. These flavorful nuts are not just a treat for your taste buds; they’re also an excellent source of dietary fiber, with a one-ounce serving providing around 3 grams of this essential nutrient. This fiber content plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth functioning of your digestive system. [27]

Moreover, pistachios are recognized for their richness in dietary fiber, containing 3 grams in a single serving. Dietary fiber largely moves through your digestive tract without complete digestion, and some types of fiber act as prebiotics, serving as sustenance for beneficial gut bacteria. These helpful bacteria ferment the fiber, transforming it into short-chain fatty acids, which hold the potential to yield numerous health benefits, such as reducing the risk of various digestive disorders, cancer, and heart disease. [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

Notably, a study conducted in 2014 revealed that pistachio consumption led to a more significant increase in butyrate-producing gut bacteria compared to [34]almonds.

A wooden bowl filled with pistachios on a wooden table

Fresh pistachios Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Aid in Skin Care

Pistachios may also help in eliminating dryness from the skin. Healthy fatty acid content plays a major role in this aspect. The fat also acts as a good carrier or base oil as it is used as an ingredient in traditional therapies like aromatherapy and traditional massage therapy. [35]

May Control Diabetes

People with diabetes can benefit from diabetes. Antioxidants that may be present in pistachios help in reducing the process of glycation – when sugars form inappropriate bonds with proteins and make them unusable. It also controls blood sugar levels and blood pressure, according to a study cited in The Review of Diabetic Studies in 2014. [36]

Potentially Anti-inflammatory

The presence of vitamins A, E, and other vitamins possess potentially anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that the incorporation of pistachios in a healthy diet helps reduce inflammation in almost any part of the body. [37]

Potential Neuroprotective

The possibly high amount of vitamin B6 present in pistachios helps in building the amino acids essential in transmitting nerve impulses. Thus, it can also play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. [38]

Side Effects

Overconsumption of pistachios could cause side effects like:

  • Weight Gain: While lower in calories and fat than most other nuts, moderation is still key. This high-protein nut can make you gain weight drastically if you consume more than the suggested count, daily.
  • Blood Pressure: Consuming roasted pistachios seasoned with salt frequently will end up increasing your blood pressure.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: It may cause digestive distress if your body reacts to the compound fructans, present in pistachios. The side effects may include constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea.

How to Select & Store?

Selecting: They can be bought from almost any grocery store. They are available in various forms such as shelled, unshelled, sweetened or salted. The shell of the nut protects it from physical damage and various infections. On the other hand, salted and sweetened pistachios may not be a good choice because of their high sodium and sugar content.  The ideal way is to buy unshelled nuts, as they are in their natural form.

Storing: They must be stored in airtight containers in cool and dry places so that they can last for many months without spoiling.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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