A good book, blankets, and fire, what else do you need for a perfect winter night? There is one more thing known as “Dry Fruits” such as almonds, pistachios, pine nuts. These nuts only are a perfect past-time snack but they carry some amazing health benefits. Pistachios are one of the world-renowned nuts but today we are not discussing the rich flavor and taste but we are shedding light on some great benefits of this tasty nut. Let’s dig in:
What is a pistachio and where does it come from?
Pistachio may be categorized as a nut, but in actuality, pistachio is a seed of the plant ‘Pistachio Veera’. The seed has a hard outer shell which we need to break before eating pistachios. These seeds are small in size, about ½ to 1 inch in length and ½ inch in diameter and they have a sweet taste whereas its color varies from yellow to light green.
The history of this tree dates back to 650 B.C. The regions in which this tree was cultivated were Iran and Afghanistan where pistachio used to be a very common food at that time in those areas. The pistachio plant was first cultivated in the Bronze Age in Central Asia. It won’t be wrong to categorize pistachios as a prehistoric snack. In fact, it is one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.
Nutritional facts of pistachios
A handful of pistachios makes one serving and has a rich nutritional profile. Let’s see what that handful carries:
|Dietary fiber||10.3 mg|
|Vitamin C||5 mg|
Benefits of pistachios
Pistachios are not only good in taste but also have many health benefits. We have listed down some of these tremendous benefits here:
- Antioxidant Packets: Antioxidants play a vital role in maintaining our health as they reduce the risk of cancers and many other diseases. Pistachios have antioxidants Tocopherol and Polyphenols that prevent cancers and inflammation. A small study conducted on a small number of people resulted in people eating 1-2 servings of pistachios daily, who have high levels of antioxidants like Lutein, α- carotene and β- carotene, in their bodies.
- Eye Health: Pistachios are rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are very beneficial for eye health. These two antioxidants largely decrease the risk factor of various eye conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These two conditions when left untreated lead to blindness. Pistachios are greatly helpful in preventing these eye problems. Also pistachios are rich in zinc which halt the poor night vision.
- Improve Heart Health: Pistachios contains amino acids, arginine, and fatty acids which are very healthy and beneficial for our heart health. The fatty acids in these nuts lowers the blood cholesterol level in our blood which ultimately eliminates the risk of coronary heart problems. Eating pistachios also lowers the lipoprotein levels which aids in lowering heart diseases and blood pressure levels.
- Important for Healthy Gut: As nuts are rich in fiber and this high fiber content is compulsory for a healthy digestive system as it helps the food to move smoothly through the gut. Pistachios have a healthy probiotic bacterium which keeps the gut fit and fine by providing these healthy bacteria in the form of fiber. Research conducted in 2012, showed consuming 3 ounces of pistachios on a daily basis, helps in increasing these healthy gut bacteria, which ferments the fiber in the stomach and produces short chain fatty acids like Butyrate that in turn prevents colon cancers.
- Weight Loss: As pistachios contain fibers, it gives the feeling of fullness and satiety and due to this, they stay in the stomach for a longer period of time. This reduces the hunger pangs and helps a lot in losing weight. The lipids in pistachios are not completely absorbed by the body and hence the extra fat is not accumulated in our body. Not only this, the fat already present in the bodies is burned down, thus reducing the fat content and ultimately aiding in weight loss.
- Balanced Blood Sugar Level: When someone eats pistachios, they do not experience any up rise in blood sugar level, because pistachios have low glycemic index. Various small researches carried out on a small number of people, emanated that eating pistachios with white bread, causes a reduction in high blood sugar level, blood pressure, obesity and inflammation markers. Because of this special property, in China, pistachio is also known as Happy Nut and in Iran, as Smiling Nut.
- Healthy Skin and Anti-Aging Agent: Pistachios have good content of vitamin E and this amazing vitamin stops aging of skin caused by UV rays as well as the presence of copper, provides a barrier against wrinkling of the skin, and also effective in sagging skin.
- Protein for Vegetarian Diet: People on vegetarian diets, have to make up their protein requirements through vegetables or other sources other than meat or poultry products. In this situation, pistachios are a great source of daily requirements of proteins. Pistachios fulfill RDA of protein which is 6gm/ ounce. Pistachios also have a high ratio of amino acids which is a perfect building block of protein.
Side effects of pistachios
Though pistachios don’t have any harmful side effects, when toasted or sweetened pistachios are consumed, they might cause any side effects due to the presence of additives. The high level of salt in toasted pistachios, have an elevated content of sodium which can cause health distress to many. Pistachios have a compound called Fructans and people with digestive and gastrointestinal problems like bloating abdominal pains, diarrhea, constipation or flatulence, should avoid eating pistachios as it may worsen the conditions.
After reading all the above benefits, we can conclude that pistachios are a great source of several minerals and vitamins as well as healthy fatty acids. Apart from their delicious taste, they are very beneficial in shedding fats and extra weight but only when there is no additive in it.