7 Reasons on Why You Should include Pistachios in Your Diet
Do you know that pistachios have been consumed for over 9000 years? It’s no surprise why it’s been loved by generation to generation and was once considered the food of royalty. These little gems are packed with essential nutrients and are straight-up delicious! Here are 7 evidence-based benefits of eating pistachio nuts.
1. High in Protein
It’s no surprise that pistachios contribute to our body’s daily protein requirements as pistachios are protein-packed. A 1-ounce serving of pistachios provides almost 6 grams of protein. When compared with other nuts and seeds, pistachios also boast a higher ratio of essential amino acids. A report being presented at the American Pistachio Growers Annual Conference states that roasted pistachios meet the definition as a ‘complete protein’. That means that pistachios contain “all of the essential amino acids in adequate amounts”. This is definitely good news for those who wish to shift to a plant-based diet.
2. Promotes Good Gut Health
We hear about the importance of maintaining good gut health all the time but what exactly is gut health? The gut is incredibly complex and contributes to our overall health. Gut microbiome, a type of microorganisms that live in your intestines are necessary and beneficial to a healthy body. It provides numerous benefits, for instance, it enhances your immune system and helps to combat obesity.
Recent studies show that pistachios and almonds possess potential prebiotic effect and that the effect of pistachios is greater. This is because pistachios are fibre-rich and some types of fibre act as prebiotics after being digested in the gut. The findings show that pistachios increase the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in the gut, which is proved to reduce the risk of developing digestive disorders, heart disease as well as cancer.
3. High in Antioxidant
Antioxidants play a vital role in health. This is because they prevent damage to the body’s cells, which reduce the risk of getting certain diseases such as cancer. The most common food that is known to contain a high level of antioxidant is dark chocolate, blueberries, dark green vegetables and many more. Nuts and seeds, being one of the most balanced superfoods are packed with lots of antioxidant compounds as well! Pistachio specifically, is one of the seeds that contain the most antioxidants (only behind walnuts and pecans).
Pistachios’ antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols, xanthophylls and tocopherols are more than 90% readily accessible for the body to absorb during digestion. This is incredibly beneficial to the overall health from anti-inflammatory to slowing down brain aging.
4. Good for the Heart
Pistachios and other nuts are great in lowering the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure and stroke whereas coronary heart disease (CHD) is usually caused by a build-up of fatty deposits that are made up of cholesterol and other substances on the inside of coronary arteries.
Pistachio consumption has proved by multiple studies to have a beneficial effect in lowering blood pressure and endothelial function (the cells that line the blood vessels, which control vascular relaxation and contraction). Studies have also shown that incorporating pistachio in your diet is effective in lowering the levels of LDL- cholesterol (bad cholesterol that contributes to the risk of developing heart diseases).
5. High in Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the body to regulate human physiological rhythm, control sleep cycles, alleviate jetlag and also show anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition to that, melatonin could also aid in the control of chronic diseases. For instance, it could perform anticancer activities and control cardiovascular diseases.
Melatonin is not exclusively produced in the body as it can be found in plants and certain food. This includes milk, cereals, grapes, tomatoes and many more. A study carried out in partnership with the American Pistachio Growers found that pistachios contain significant amounts of melatonin. Pistachios contain the highest content (233,000 ng/g DW) among the nuts family and are much higher than most other foods. This implies that pistachios could potentially help with better sleep quality and duration and is a great natural food option to increase one’s melatonin intake.
6. Helpful in Controlling Blood Sugar Balance
The rise in diabetes on global health and the economy is alarming with an estimated 50% increase of type 2 diabetes by the year 2030. Diabetes is associated with numerous health complications, which include limb amputation, cancer, hypertension and stroke.
It’s always best to avoid blood sugar imbalances even if you don’t have diabetes. Staying away from food that has a high level of sugar, carbohydrates, or sodium could help with keeping your blood sugar level balanced. In addition to that, including high-fibre food such as pistachios in your meal helps to maintain a healthy and consistent blood sugar levels. This is because pistachios have a low glycemic index that ranges from 4 to 9, which may be beneficial in moderating glycemic control when being added to food with a high glycemic index such as food that is high in carbohydrate.
7. Helpful for Weight Loss
Nuts are widely believed to be fattening due to its high-fat content and being an energy-dense food. However, no studies to date are able to prove that the consumption of nut or pistachio leads to either weight gain or an increased risk of obesity. Several studies have presented results on pistachios being helpful in inducing satiety thus reducing subsequent food intake. This can be explained by the pistachios’ energy density, fibre level, protein and low calories.
When consumed mindfully and as portion-controlled snacks, pistachios may support weight loss for individuals on a calorie-restricted diet. Two studies present an interesting explanation of why in-shell pistachios might aid in reducing caloric intake. It shows that people are more conscious of their level of consumption due to visual cues of accumulated empty pistachio shells reminding them to be mindful of their intake. On the other hand, the extra time, effort and extra perceived volume in cracking the shell of pistachios may also result in lower calories intake as compared to consuming only the pistachio kernels.
With so many benefits packed in these little gems, it’s hard for one to say no to pistachios ever again! Wondering how you can incorporate this superfood in your diet? You can always start with snacking a handful of these wonders! Alternatively, have a read at five of our favourite easy pistachio treats recipe HERE.