Pistachios – My Favorite Fat Burning & Heart-Healthy Snack

By: Cat Ebeling, co-author of the best-sellers:  The Fat Burning KitchenThe Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

I remember back when I was a kid, pistachios were bright red! Back then, pistachios mostly came from the Middle East, and the harvesting methods left them with stains, so they were dyed (ugh!) a bright reddish pink to cover up the stains. Fortunately, most pistachios today come from California, where they come to us for snacking in their natural (and more appetizing) tan color.

Pistachios have become elevated to almost everyone’s favorite snack. Did you know that pistachios are one of the most nutritious nuts you can eat? Just a small 1 ounce serving contains over 30 vitamins, minerals and other powerful nutrients to help you burn fat, improve your cholesterol and heart health, balance out your blood sugar, and even improve your sex life!

Pistachios contain some of the highest protein and healthy fats of any nuts, so they are one of the best ways to snack, get tons of nutrients, keep your blood sugar low, and burn fat as well.

Pistachios rank high among nuts as having the highest amounts of antioxidant activity (ORAC ranking) of any food. Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage, which allows for healthy cell reproduction, slows aging, and prevents chronic disease, among other things.

Pistachios have a unique nutrient and fatty acid profile. They are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids and numerous antioxidants, including γ-tocopherol, β-carotene, lutein, selenium, flavonoids, and phytoestrogens.

Compared with other popular nuts, pistachios are one of the richest sources of potassium, vitamin B-6, beta-carotene, and lutein + zeaxanthin. And they contain a healthy amount of protein, fiber, and selenium (good for thyroid health) as well.

These little green nibbles are crunchy, salty, delicious, satisfying, low-carb and good for you! In spite of the fact that these yummy nuts have loads of (healthy) fat in them, they are one of the best fat-burning snacks you can find.

Here are FIVE good reasons to snack on pistachios—

1. A great source of vitamin B6—B vitamins are ‘water soluble’ vitamins. That means that    B vitamins are easily washed out of your body, and you cannot store B vitamins.

B6 is vital for helping to produce certain neurotransmitters that protect the brain and nervous system. What’s more, B6 helps banish depression and anxiety, increase your ability to break down and process fat cells, up your energy levels, improve premenstrual syndrome, and help attention-deficit issues like ADD and ADHD.

B6 is also one of the most important vitamins to lower homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is an inflammatory substance the body produces that is a leading indicator of heart disease. High homocysteine = an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.

2. Improves Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels—While many of the other nut varieties have been well-studied for their health benefits, pistachios have been studied for heart health and cholesterol-lowering benefits.

This study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows a definite and significant reduction in the harmful LDL cholesterol with as little as one serving a day, although the reduction in cholesterol actually appears to be ‘dose-dependent’. In other words, 2 servings of pistachios will bring down cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors slightly more than 1 serving (serving = 10% of total daily calories). LDL cholesterol was lowered by an impressive 9-12%.

High LDL is a major risk factor for heart disease and is thought to result partly from increased triglycerides (which usually come from a high carbohydrate-high sugar diet. In addition, pistachios contain high levels of antioxidants, which also protect heart health and blood vessels.

3. Diabetes Fighter—Eating pistachios has a beneficial effect on blood sugar, helping to keep blood sugar levels low, insulin levels low, and helping to prevent diabetes.

New research from Spain shows that people with prediabetes actually have a lower risk of developing diabetes if they eat pistachios on a regular basis. The test subjects ate 2 ounces of pistachios daily and had significant drops in both blood sugar and insulin levels. Some subjects also found they had reduced inflammatory levels as well, due to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory levels in pistachios. As an added benefit, subjects also found that their waist measurement decrease as well.

Besides the fact that pistachios are very low in sugar, they also contain many bioactive compounds that affect the heart, blood sugar levels and other measures of health.

Pistachios are also high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, so they help control your ‘munchies’ and satisfy you. Not only do pistachios curb your appetite, but they give you some seriously healthy nutrients as well.

4. Better Sex—A study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research looked at the effects of eating pistachios in 17 men who had erectile dysfunction (ED).

The men ate about 3.5 ounces (about a cup) of pistachios a day for three weeks. The men were tested before and after the study using the International Index of Erectile Function score. After 3 weeks, the men’s IIEF scores increased significantly, and the subjects also reported they had increased sexual desire, pleasure and satisfaction. So want to add a little ‘spice’ to your life? Eat more pistachios!

5. Fat Burning—Nuts contain lots of healthy fats, but they also help you burn fat! Pistachios are one of the nuts that contain the highest amount of protein, which helps to make you feel satiated and full.

In addition, they contain generous amounts of healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to the healthy fat in olive oil. This fat not only helps you feel satisfied, but it keeps blood sugar low—a key factor in appetite and the ‘munchies’. When blood sugar stays low, you keep your body in the fat-burning mode, burning fat for energy instead of storing fat—which is what happens when you eat carbohydrates or sugary foods.

What’s more, when you eat shelled pistachios, it takes a bit of work to crack those tasty little babies open, so you tend to eat less.

Pistachios also contain generous amounts of the antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eye from diseases related to aging, including macular degeneration.

And, pistachios are great for your gut health too. We all talk about “probiotics” but there are “prebiotics” as well. These are healthy, fiberous foods that feed your healthy gut bacteria, and pistachios just happen to be one of those foods that feed your healthy gut bacteria and keep those critters happy!

A study from University of Florida study showed that people who ate 3 oz of pistachios for 19 days, had improved levels of beneficial gut bacteria, and an increase in beneficial butyrates, which are substances formed from healthy gut bacteria that help heal the gut lining.Got the munchies? Pick up a bag of yummy, crunchy pistachios. Your body and your gut critters will thank you! Enjoy your pistachios and stay lean!

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References

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2014/08/07/dc14-1431
https://www.medicaldaily.com/regularly-eating-pistachios-might-help-reduce-blood-sugar-levels-diabetes-risk-300780
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/pistachio-nutrition-benefits.html
https://draxe.com/pistachio-nutrition/?utm_campaign=Article-May-2016&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=pistachio

About The Watchdog

Mike Geary has been a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years now. He has been studying nutrition and exercise for almost 25 years, ever since being a young teenager. Mike is originally from Pennsylvania, but has fallen in love with mountain life and now resides in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Mike is an avid adventurist and when he’s not spending his time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or paddleboarding on the lake, he has enjoyed skydiving, whitewater rafting, piloting an Italian fighter plane (seriously), scuba diving, heli-skiing, and traveling all around the world, enjoying learning about different cultures. At the age of 40, Mike now feels healthier, stronger, and more energetic than when he was 20... All because of a healthy lifestyle and great nutrition!

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65 comments

  1. If you haven’t tried Alamogordo, NM pistachios, you don’t know your pistachios. They put California pistachios to shame! They are to die for!

  2. I appreciate your article. What I am not clear about is if the pistachios are roasted or raw. Roasted anything, especially a nut, will destroy the health building characteristics, as the roasting denatures the fats and destroys any enzymes required for digestion. I would appreciate addressing this in an addendum to this article or a follow-up article.
    Keep up the good work.

    • What about dry roasting?

    • Hello M. Huntoon,
      Could you please justify with any piece of evidence that roasted nuts are not healthy?
      I thought that by soaking and roasting them we could digest them better.
      Concerning the pistachios, salty pistachios could not be a problem?
      Thank you

    • I agree with Richard about this. And I would add one thing. We understand that the roasting process deprives foods of any kind of their nutritional potency. But on top of the roasting of many nuts and seeds we have the addition of salt in large quantities. Adding salt to the American diet is not going to help people lose weight because sodium, the base chemical unit for salt, contributes to water retention. Most people, when they think of the delicious pistachio, think also of the salt that flavors them. I’m not sure most people would be as attracted to pistachios were it not for the salt which is so damaging to our health, not just from a weight-loss perspective from also from the standpoint of our microbiome, the microbial flora of our gut which contributes vastly to our true health and disease resistance.

    • I try to check with the manufacturer of the nuts to find out what temperature the nuts (not just pistachios) are roasted. The lower the better. Here is a link to an article in Healthline that might answer some of the other questions here. I think Mike just wanted to raise awareness without getting too longwinded on the details. 🙂

      https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vs-roasted-nuts#section6

  3. Hi the idea of eating pastschios for health sounds good. I’m a diabetic and heart surgery. I will try this, thank you.

  4. Thanks for info. On Pistachios! Can’t wait to have some.

  5. a good site to learn about pistachios

  6. So can we eat pistachios roasted to receive the same benefits you quoted?

  7. But I heard that pistachios has high purine level that could cause high uric acid that leads to Gouts and Arthritis? Please give medical advice on this. Thanks

  8. Are they always or almost always pasteurized like almonds and if so what does this do to their nutrient values?

  9. I like your column..
    but when you suggest pistachios..best to add…Wonderful brand is on the Roundup list of CA
    products…check it out.

  10. I read your article months ago about pistachios and I constantly eat them now thanks for introducing them to me I had never eaten one before

  11. Remember to many tree nuts can can contribute to kidney stones.
    Moderation in all things..is the key to success.

    But NONE Of Them Even Come Close To Raw Cacao… With An ORAC Rating Of 95,500.

  12. Although pistachios are low on carbs; in reference to the Keto diet 3/4 cup of pistachios is 15 grams of carbs. On Keto you’re only allowed 20 grams of carbs per day. I absolutely love pistachios!!! But I’m trying to incorporate a Keto lifestyle at the moment.

  13. Pistachios have a very high net carb value (17g per 100g). 3oz. (or approx, 100g) of pistachios would be impossible in a Keto diet. Most nuts have 4-7g per 100g, except for cashews that are about 30g of net carbs per 100g. Cashews and pistachios cannot be recommended for diabetics except in small amounts like 1oz per day.

  14. very high in carbohydrates, i would choose Pecans
    which have the lowest

    • Here in Baton Rouge, LA, raw, shelled 1-pound bags of Bergerons (one of largest if not the largest pecan sheller in US at New Roads, LA) for $6.99 (this years crop) at certain stores, and that includes the small native variety. We keep plenty in the freezer and they freeze well since they will get rancid and attacked by bugs if you don’t. We use them throughout the year.

  15. I love pistachios and i bring them to our mens group meeting weekly. I will spread the word about the value.

  16. I am allergic to pistachios. Is there a second place product that Works almost as well?

  17. I have a ‘thing’ about throwing out the shells – –want to find a use for them – mulch? Compost? anything? thanks.

    • Your idea about possibly using the pistachios sells as compost is excellent. I have not specifically researched their use as compost but it makes good sense. added to the soil the shells will definitely aerate the soil which is always desired and in time the shells will decay, adding additional compost.

      • If you compost them it might be best to soak the shells to remove the salt which will impede the development of the exact same microbial action that compost depends on to break down the components into soil.

    • shirley A. Pedersen

      MARLENE.. i SPRAYED THEM GOLD & PUT ON TOP OF PLANTS… LOOKS PRETTY. THE DIRT LOOKS BETTER.. (IN THE HOUSE OR GARDEN COURT.\

  18. To get all benefits mentioned, must the pistachio nuts be in the raw form? (Not roasted?)

  19. I’m in my 70’s, so I remember when pistachios were red, and your fingertips would turn red from eating them. In retrospect, I’m wondering how harmful that red dye was. Now we have to make sure they haven’t been poisoned with Roundup – of which Glyphosate is only one of the toxic compounds. I still enjoy them as a regular part of my diet, but as my RN son says: “Everything in moderation.”

    • Dan Lare Tyler

      Hey Pete, I remember the same. Back then most of the nuts came from Iran. Their harvesting method caused major bruising, so they used a red dye that indeed stained ones fingers but you didn’t really see the bruising. Now we have many groves in the US and especially Arizona. Their harvesting medthods include nets aroung the trunk of the tree and they shake the trunk with a tractor equiped to not cause tree injury. No need to dye the nuts and they do indeed look great.

  20. I am very concerned about roundup and other poisons on pistachios . What can I do to safeguard against such ?

  21. No mention if amounts given are before or after pistachios are shelled?

  22. I am in Canada and will look for them in Costco. Does anyone here know where they are bringing them in from and whether they are roasted?

  23. I didn’t see where they mentioned the importance of the nuts being organic or if they thought raw or roasted
    pistachios would provide all the benefits they were claiming.

  24. Sorry, forgot to ask…Pistachios Raw or roasted and salted ?
    Must they be crushed and added to 8 oz water ?
    Illustration looks like the nuts have been crushed into a powder…….. ??
    What quantity with the 8 oz Water ?
    Must this be taken on waking, before coffee etc ?
    Should one avoid the salt which is added whilst still in the shell ?
    Are they taken only Once a day ?
    I Love them, so no problem to be eaten all day !
    Should one avoid any other foods, like Cashew Nuts, whilst on the Pistachio programme ?
    Thank you so much for helping general health as well.!

  25. Your article is interesting. My body must be working in reverse. I have a very high level of B6 and no one can figure out why. All I hear si that I need to stop eating food that has a high level of B6. Ha!

  26. Everybody is saying how good these Pistachios (raw-roasted, etc.) but no ones said what brand, where to get them. Need to know what brands are best for consumption. Also where to get them.

  27. I always buy organic unsalted pistachios, almonds and walnuts. I had to reduce my intake of pistachios. For some reason, I started to have some abdominal cramping and bloating. I wasn’t sure it was the pistachios so I did an elimination test. I haven’t had any pistachios for about a week now. I noticed I don’t have the abdominal cramping anymore and not as much bloating. Someone told me to be careful with nuts and seeds because they often contain micro toxins from mold, which she said is because the nuts and seeds are stored in silos for a time. I don’t know how accurate that is but it seems to make some sense since I’m highly sensitive to mold along with a few other allergies in milder form. As for almonds, for me, they are difficult to digest with the skins on so I soak them in hot water for a few minutes and they come off fairly easy. Makes a big difference. Another thing I have learned is to chew nuts thoroughly because that too can prevent an upset tummy. Otherwise, nuts are nutritious and I’ll continue to enjoy them.

  28. How many pistacchios is the right amount?

  29. Just if the pistachios don’t work? You may also try, “Deez-nuts”!

  30. where do you get unsalted pistachios, I love them with a passion .

  31. Very informative information which I didn’t know before

  32. Kathleen Ann Holtham

    where do you ship from and the price please

  33. I have kidney failure and I can’t have too much potassium in my diet so is it ok for me to eat pastacheo which is good for so much more. Or is it too bad for me to eat pastacheo? I really need to know bc I need all of the benefits that come with them. Especially for low libedo. I am marryering a younger man and I need the all of the libedo I can have!!!!! Please respond as soon as possible. Thank you Brenda Lane

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