They may be small in size but pistachios pack a nutritional punch.
Linda Winley is a Toronto-based dietician who encourages her patients to snack on this superfood as a healthy alternative.
“If you’re craving something crunchy that’s full of flavour, pistachios are a great substitute to potato chips or crackers which are full of saturated fats and sodium,” she says, “just make sure you buy the un-roasted, un-salted kind.”
This superfood, which is full of essential vitamins and minerals (like B6, copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and iron), has a higher amount of protein and less fat than other nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts.
Whether you toss them in your salad or replace them as your movie snack, here are five reasons why Winley says you need more pistachios in your life.
Pistachios love your heart: Both salted and unsalted pistachios, in a healthy diet, can help reduce blood pressure and lessen the vascular load on the heart. Winley suggests that this superfood lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, in the body. “Pistachios are full of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, known as good fats, that block the absorption of cholesterol in the gut,” she says.
Pistachios and weight management: Known as the skinny nut, Winley explains that pistachios are a low-cal, low-fat, high-protein snack. “They’re not only satisfying to munch on, but pistachios make you feel fuller longer.” Pistachios can also give you an extra boost of energy if you’re feeling sluggish. “Shelled pistachios are even better for you because the shells slow down your consumption rate and research suggests that the process of cracking open the nuts and seeing the shells serves as a visual cue in managing portion sizes,” Winley says.
Pistachios are great for your skin: According to Winley, Pistachios are rich in vitamin E which hydrates your skin and can prevent or reduce signs of ageing. “Vitamin E is considered an antioxidant that combats free radicals which can cause ageing in the skin,” Winley says. This isn’t to say that you should stop wearing your favourite moisturizer with SPF.
Pistachios will keep your bowels moving: If you’re feeling a little backed up, consuming pistachios may help your digestive tract. Pistachios are a good source of dietary fibre says Winley. She explains that a serving of about 1 ounce or 30 grams of pistachios (that’s about 40- 45 pistachios) contains 3 grams of dietary fibre, which is more than enough to get your digestive tracts working.
Pistachios promote healthy hair: If your hair’s feeling a little thin and brittle, up your pistachio intake for a stronger and shinier mane. A contributor to hair loss is the lack of biotin in the body. Pistachios are rich in biotins, which is part of the B complex vitamins. You can even try pistachio oil as a hair mask to moisturize, treat split ends and improve the flexibility of hair fibres.
While pistachios are responsible for different health benefits including possible weight management, it’s important to remember moderation. “You don’t want to go nuts when eating pistachios,” says Winley. “If you eat a bag, without monitoring how many you’re cracking, you could easily consume 500 to 1000 calories in one sitting and that’s not healthy.”
A healthy serving of pistachios is equivalent to 40-45 pistachios, and “…should be consumed between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner or as a snack,” she says.
The Toronto-based nutritionist also revealed that a serving of raw or dry roasted pistachios provides:
5.8 to 5.9 g of protein
12.7 to 12.9 g of fat
7.8 to 8.3 g of carbohydrates
2.8 to 2.9 g of fibre
Wonderful Pistachios is my pistachio brand of choice. I can’t say if this company is better than others on the market (because I’ve never tried them) but I’ve never been disappointed with Wonderful Pistachios. Winley says consumers should consider brands that offer raw or dry roasted and unsalted pistachios.
Winley also says that those with nut allergies, or those looking to make changes to their diet, should consult a healthcare practitioner first, “there are many people online who position themselves as experts but always speak to a licensed and registered professional you trust.”
Did you know that California produces almost 98% of North America’s pistachios? That’s nuts!