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 all over the world. Pistachio nuts belong to the Anacardiaceae family from the genus Pistacia. A pistachio 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.
Pistachios are one of the few nuts that contain most of the nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, amino acids, fats, and dietary fiber. They are rich in minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and sodium. They also provide you with essential vitamins like vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, and betaine. Pistachios have a lower calorie and fat content compared to many other nuts and dry fruits.
Health Benefits of Pistachios
The major health benefits of pistachios include:
Even the shells of pistachios are found to contain a considerable amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that form in the body after cellular metabolism and can cause conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Promotes Heart Health
Consuming pistachios regularly 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.
Pistachios are also the first 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.
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.
Aids in Digestion
One of the other health benefits of pistachios is that it is a good source of dietary fiber, which helps in the smooth digestion of food. A serving of about 1 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. Better blood flow, in turn, also boosts brain health.
Pistachios also help in eliminating dryness from the skin. The saturated fat 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.
Pistachios greatly influence sexual vitality in men. 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.
In people suffering from diabetes, the sugars form inappropriate bonds with proteins and make them unusable. This process is known as glycation. The antioxidants present in them help in reducing the process of glycation and thus help in controlling diabetes. It also controls the blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
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.
Overconsumption of pistachios could cause side effects like;
- Weight Gain: This high-protein nut can make you gain weight drastically if you consume more than the suggested count, every day.
- 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. Pistachios are available today 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 going bad.