The seeds of pistachio trees, commonly consumed as pistachio nuts are not only tasty but come with a good number of health benefits including reducing blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and maintaining heart health.
All About Pistachio:
Pistachios are nuts that are very popularly consumed for their rich health benefits from an early age. It is commonly found in western parts of Asia, but it is consumed worldwide. The nuts come from the seed kernels of pistachio trees. These are usually green in color, but also sometimes contain some shades of yellow. They are usually about an inch in length and half an inch in diameter. The nut contains an outer hard shell that needs to be cracked first before consuming the nut.
Pistachios are densely rich in various health benefits, 9 out of them are listed below:
1. Nutrient-Packed Food
Pistachio contains a high number of nutritional values. Almost 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of about 49 pistachios containing the following (1 Trusted Source):
- Calories: 159
- Vitamin B6: 28% of the RDI
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 13 grams (90% are unsaturated fats)
- Carbohydrates: 8 grams
- Potassium: 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Thiamine: 21% of the RDI
- Copper: 41% of the RDI
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 11% of the RDI
Apart from bananas, pistachio is one of the most important plant foods that are highly loaded with potassium and vitamin B6. These important nutrients perform a lot of overall functions in your body including regulation of blood sugar levels and the formation of pigments like hemoglobin, which help to carry oxygen through red blood cells (RBC) to the heart and the other parts of the body.
2. Rich Source of Antioxidants
Pistachios contain more antioxidants than most other nuts and seeds. These antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin are essential for your health because antioxidants play a vital role to prevent cell damage and help in reducing the risk of several infections and harmful diseases, such as cancer, by reducing abnormal cell growth and spreading of carcinogenic cells. Moreover, it helps to maintain the higher levels of lutein and γ-Tocopherol, compared to other nuts. The pigments of antioxidants are essential to keep your eyes healthy by preventing the blue light damage of your retina and fighting against macular degeneration, particularly among aged individuals that sometimes may lead to blindness. Polyphenols and tocopherols, the most abundantly found antioxidants in pistachios also help to protect against cancer and cardiac diseases and increase digestion health by improving absorption and metabolism (2 Trusted Source).
3. Low-Calorie Content
Besides having many health benefits, pistachios contain a notably low number of calories compared to other nuts that are extremely beneficial for losing weight. Almost One ounce (28 grams) of pistachios contains 159 calories, compared with 185 calories in walnuts and 193 calories in pecans. This increases the sense of fullness in your body and thus promotes weight loss. (3 Trusted Source)
4. High In Protein
Protein constitutes about 20% of your total body weight. So, it is very much important to fulfill the basic protein demands of your body through a healthy diet. Pistachios are second to almonds in the context of protein content. Compared to any other nut they also have high amounts of essential amino acids, that are often considered as the building blocks of protein. Pistachios contain those amino acids that are not produced within your body, so you must obtain them from your diet. Some amino acids in pistachio are considered semi-essential, which suggests that they can be essential under certain circumstances, depending on the health of the concerned individual. One of these semi-essential amino acids is L-arginine, which contains almost 2% of the amino acids in pistachios. It is chemically converted into nitric oxide inside your body, a compound that helps in the dilation of your blood vessels, thus resulting in better blood flow and reducing blood pressure. (4 Trusted Source)
5. Promotes Weight Loss
Pistachios are rich in protein and fiber and are often considered one of the most weight-loss-friendly foods. A recent study has revealed that those who ate 1.9 ounces (53 grams) of pistachios each day as an afternoon snack or with desserts, had reduced their body mass index by 50%, compared to those who ate 2 ounces (56 grams) of pretzels per day. (5 Trusted Source)
Moreover, another US study concluded that individuals with excess weight showed that who consumed nearly 20% of calories from pistachios lost 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) or more from their waistlines than those who did not eat pistachios. (6 Trusted Source)
Experts say that pistachios help to promote weight loss properties by fully absorbing the total fat content of your body. But some other experiments have demonstrated the malabsorption of fats from nuts. This is because part of their fat content is stuck within their cell walls, preventing it from being digested in the digestive tract.
Moreover, hard-shelled pistachios are beneficial for mindful eating, as shelling the nuts takes time and slows the rate of eating. The leftover shells also help you to understand how any nuts you have eaten, thus inducing the feeling of fullness into your mind (7 Trusted Source).
The latest study shows that individuals who ate in-shell pistachios consumed 41% fewer calories than individuals who ate shelled pistachios.
6. Improves Digestion
Pistachios help to improve digestion by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria inside the digestive tract. Moreover, the high fiber content within pistachios helps to move the stool smoothly through your digestive system, and some types of fiber are digested by the good bacteria in your gut, acting as prebiotics. Gut bacteria then ferment the fiber and other essential nutrients and convert them into short-chain fatty acids, which leads to several health benefits, including a reducing the chances of developing digestive disorders, cancer in the colon or intestine, and heart diseases like heart attacks or strokes. It has been found that, compared to almonds, eating pistachios daily can increase the bacteria, that produce butyrate, a beneficial compound with short chain fatty acids for improved digestion (6 Trusted Source).
7. Heart Healthy Nuts
Pistachios are proven to have reduced the risk of developing heart disease in various ways. Apart from containing high levels of antioxidants, pistachios have reportedly been found to have reduced high blood pressure and reduce the amounts of bad cholesterols, thus lowering your risk of heart disease. New studies carried out in several countries have found that the cholesterol-lowering effects of pistachios are incredible. The extracts in pistachios are helpful to reduce high blood pressure. They also increase levels of HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL or bad cholesterol, thus maintaining heart health. (7 Trusted Source)
9. Maintains Blood Vessel Health
People with poor heart health may undergo vasodilation, which is the dilation of blood vessels in the inner linings, also known as the endothelium. This abnormal condition can sometimes increase the risk for heart diseases like cardiac arrest or heart stroke, mainly among aged individuals. Endothelial dysfunction, which is caused by vasodilation, impairs the blood flow through blood vessels. Nitric oxide and amino acids like L-arginine, which is converted into nitric oxide in the body, play a key role in promoting blood vessel health. Recent experiments find out that those who regularly consume pistachios have much-dilated blood vessels and better heart health with reduced blood pressure, compared to others who do not consume. (8 Trusted Source)
10. Lowers Blood Sugar
Though most nuts are much oily and are high sources of carbohydrates, pistachios have a low glycemic index, which means that they do not lead to blood sugar spikes. Recent statistics have shown that eating pistachios can help to maintain proper blood sugar levels in your body. Dieticians say that if 2 ounces or almost 56 grams of pistachios is mixed into a carbohydrate-rich diet, the blood sugar levels got reduced by almost 20–30% (9 Trusted Source).
Another 12-week study reveals, in people with type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus the fasting blood sugar level got significantly lowered by 9% after having 0.9 ounces (25 grams) of pistachios twice per day in their diet. Moreover, the rich sources of fiber and antioxidants like carotenoids, and phenolic compounds in pistachio extracts, controls blood sugar and insulin levels to a great extent. So, add up pistachios into your regular diet today, for it may help to manage your blood sugar levels and keep you healthy at later ages.
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