In praise of pistachios

Good things come in small packages and if that’s the case, pistachios are great.  Referred to as “the green nut,” pistachios have been known to mankind as far back as 6000 BC and to this day we are still cracking them.   Coming from the Greek word, pistakion, these little green treats can hold their own nutrition-wise when compared to other nuts.

Here are some fun facts on pistachios:

·         One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more than any other tree nut.  Those 49 nuts contain only 160 calories making them one of the lowest calorie nuts around.

·         Those same 49 nuts provide up to 20% of your Daily Value of vitamin B6, about the same as half an avocado.

·         A serving size of pistachios packs in more fiber – 6 grams - than one-half cup of broccoli and the same amount found in an apple or orange.

·         One serving of pistachios has as much potassium with 300 milligrams as an orange containing 250 milligrams.

·         Pistachios have the highest content of phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels decreasing the risk of heart disease.

·         Compared with other nuts, dry roasted pistachios have a lower fat content.

·         They contain significant amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, along with vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, and folate. 

·         They are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids known for possibly reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration

·         Pistachios make a great post-exercise snack – they contain protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants for a satisfying source of energy. 

·         Research suggests that pistachios may have a positive effect on blood glucose, insulin sensitivity and LDL cholesterol. 

·         People watching their weight may benefit from eating pistachios as they have shown to provide satiety regulation and aid in weight control.

·         Recent research has shown pistachios to have a potential prebiotic effect by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. 

By now you should be convinced pistachios are a healthy snack to be enjoyed several times a week.  Get creative with them by adding pistachios to savory dishes such as pastas, marinades and crusts for meat entrees, salsas, and stir-fries as well as toppings for salads, yogurts, and dip. 

When storing, prevent fatty acids in pistachios from oxidation and going rancid, by keeping them in an airtight container in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 1 year.  At room temperature or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, they should be kept in a dry environment and will last several months. 

So, it’s time to get cracking and start singing the praises of pistachios.