9 Wonderful Benefits of Pistachios

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

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The health benefits of pistachios include a healthy heart, weight management, prevention of macular degeneration, and hypertension, as well as improved digestion. It also boosts 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. The nuts of pistachio 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, vitamin 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 quantity.

Watch Video: 4 Surprising Benefits Of Pistachios

Health Benefits of Pistachios

The major health benefits of pistachios include:

Antioxidant Properties

Even the shells of pistachios are found to contain a considerable amount of antioxidants, as per a study published in the Journal of Food Chemistry. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that form in the body after cellular metabolism and increase the risk of conditions like cancer and heart disease.

Promotes Heart Health

Consuming pistachios regularly as part of a balanced diet can decrease the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. The antioxidants, phytosterols, and unsaturated fatty acids are great for promoting a healthy heart. The nuts are also a potent source of an amino acid called l-arginine, which prevents the hardening of arteries and the formation of blood clots.

Nutrition Facts

Nuts, pistachio nuts, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]4.37
Energy [kcal]560
Protein [g]20.16
Total lipid (fat) [g]45.32
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]27.17
Fiber, total dietary [g]10.6
Sugars, total [g]7.66
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
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]5.6
Thiamin [mg]0.87
Riboflavin [mg]0.16
Niacin [mg]1.3
Vitamin B-6 [mg]1.7
Folate, DFE [µg]51
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]26
Vitamin A, IU [IU]516
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]2.86
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]5.91
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]23.26
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]14.38
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Weight Management

They are an optimal choice of people who are dieting. Pistachios, with their lower calories, high protein, low saturated fat, and high unsaturated fats, are a perfect contender for ideal weight management. Researchers from the Center for Human Nutrition, California have confirmed its weight management properties.  

Prevents Macular Disease or AMD

Pistachios contain carotenoid antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help in reducing the risk of contracting an age-related macular disease in the elderly, as per the American Optometric Association.

Aids in Digestion

One of their other health benefits is that they are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in the smooth digestion. A serving of about one ounce or 30 grams of pistachios contains about 3 grams of dietary fiber, more than enough to get your digestive tracts working at optimum capacity.

Absorption of Iron

Pistachios have a high copper content, which helps in the higher absorption of iron into the body from food sources. This can help combat conditions like anemia as the hemoglobin count rises and increases blood flow.

A wooden bowl filled with pistachios on a wooden table

Skin Care

Pistachios 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.

Aphrodisiac Properties

Pistachios greatly influence sexual vitality in men, according to the International Journal of Impotence Research. Studies have shown that those men who had a daily intake of about 100 grams of these nuts for three weeks improved their erectile function by around 50 percent. This was confirmed by ultrasound scans of blood flow in the penis.

Controls Diabetes

In people suffering from diabetes, antioxidants present in pistachios help in reducing the process of glycation – when sugars form inappropriate bonds with proteins and make them unusable. It also controls the blood sugar levels and blood pressure, according to a study cited in The Review of Diabetic Studies.

Anti-inflammatory

The presence of vitamin A, E and other vitamins possess anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that incorporation of pistachios in the healthy diet help in reducing inflammation in almost any part of the body.

Neuroprotective

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

Health benefits of pistachio - infographic

Boosts Immunity

Pistachios aid in boosting immunity due to the rich source of vitamin B6 present in them. They aid in building a strong immune system and helps in protecting the body against various infections.

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, on a daily basis.
  • 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 is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. 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. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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