Superfood Spotlight: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Pistachios

pistachio-1098173_1920We Americans have a major love affair with nuts. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture reports that nearly one out of 10 of us enjoys nuts or nut products every day. We even have a National Nut Day, celebrated yearly on October 22st. But, some nuts get more love than others. According to a 2014 report on Salon.com, almonds and peanuts (actually a legume) are our top two choices. But, much lower on the list are pistachios. And that’s a shame, because not only are they incredibly delicious, Spanish researchers report that they also boast an impressive array of health-boosters. Here are six:

Pistachios are fiber-rich. Pistachios are richer in fiber than other nuts, 10% by weight of both insoluble and soluble fiber

Pistachios are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They contain significant amounts of minerals such as, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and vitamins such as, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B (except B12), vitamin K, and folate, higher than many other nuts.

Pistachios are packed with phytochemicals.  Phytochemicals—found only in plant foods—are health-protective compounds that help protect you from illness, even serious ones like cancer and heart disease. And, pistachios are loaded with these phytochemicals such as, lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids, which research has shown can protect your eyes from “blue light” damage from computer screens, TVs, and other electronics.

Pistachios are a great source of vegetable protein.  About 21% of a pistachio’s total weigh is protein.

Pistachios can help weight loss. Good news! Not all of the fat in pistachios is absorbed, because the fat in the walls of nut cells is not completely digested in your gut. How cool is that? Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go on a pistachio binge, but, a small handful here and there won’t hurt. More good news! Pistachios are low-glycemic, and research suggests that they may play a role in reducing Type 2 diabetes risk.

Pistachios can help lower blood pressure. An analysis of over 20 studies found that pistachios can help reduce blood pressure.

Here’s a bonus: Eat the skins. The skin contains significant amounts of resveratrol, which research suggests is beneficial in cancer prevention, and may have the potential to reduce Alzheimer’s risk.

When choosing pistachios, go for raw rather than roasted. Raw pistachios have the edge over roasted for nutritional content. Also, when nuts are roasted, the delicate fatty acids in the nuts are damaged. The taste of raw pistachios is beyond delicious, trust me.

To prevent the fatty acids in pistachios from oxidation (damage), you’ll want to store your pistachios in an airtight container in the refrigerator; they will stay fresh for up to one year. Or, store them at room temperature in a dry environment, no higher than 68°F. They should keep for several months.

To your good health!

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