Pistachios: Nutritional Value, Benefits and Side Effects

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Pistachios are a member of the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) and are historically the oldest nut that has been consumed for ages. They tend to grow in drylands in warm climates. The name pistachios came from the Greek word “Pistakion”, meaning the green nut. They have a hard white covering around them and have a reddish-coloured thin skin around the green kernels. 

Pistachios originated from the middle east and central Asia. They are borne in clusters and get pollinated mainly by winds. Pistachios are long and spherical, 1.5 to 2 cm long. The hard covering around the kernel tends to split from one side without leaving off the green kernel.

Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and a little north to the Caucasus in Russia are the original homelands of pistachios. 

Pistachios are rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, etc. They also contain vitamin B6, B1, protein, fibre, copper, and phosphorus. In addition, they are one of the many nuts that are low in calories and fats. Therefore, pistachios provide significant health benefits. For example, they help weight loss, promote heart health, reduce cancer risk, etc.

Nutritional Value of Pistachios

One hundred grams of pistachios contain:

  • Calories- 557
  • Carbohydrate- 28 grams  
  • Fibre- 10.3 grams
  • Fat- 44.4 grams
  • Protein- 20.6 grams

Health Benefits of Pistachios

Health Benefits of Pistachios- HealthifyMe

1. Cardiovascular Health

Pistachios contain good fats such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats present in pistachios nourish the heart.

Pistachios also help people with diabetes and help in decreasing the risk of strokes. It is due to a good amount of phytosterols in pistachios. It lowers the absorption of dietary carbohydrates in the body.

Carbohydrates are converted to sugar in the body. Excess carbohydrate in the body results in a high blood sugar level. Healthy fats present in pistachios help in reducing blood pressure in the body. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants, carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamin E, and vitamin C. All these nutrients help improve the elasticity of your blood vessels.  

2. Rich in Antioxidants and Reduces Inflammation

Pistachios are rich in antioxidants, such as lutein, beta-carotene, selenium, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and gamma-tocopherol. These antioxidants help prevent cell damage and free radicals in the body. In addition, lutein, beta-carotene, and flavonoids help reduce sun damage, prevent age-related body damage and improve skin tone.

Pistachios also reduce inflammation in the heart. Inflammation can lead to heart strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. Pistachios contain polyphenol, which lowers the risk of heart diseases by promoting anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet properties and also by improving the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels.

Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, is also present in pistachios. It helps reduce oxidative stress and prevent or reduce damage caused by free radicals. As a result, it reduces inflammation and promotes healthy ageing.

Pistachios also contain vitamin E, which nourishes and moisturises the skin from within. They also control insulin levels and promote blood circulation, which helps reduce acne. Vitamin E also helps in reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer resulting from inflammation.

3. Promotes Healthy Digestive System

Pistachios contain copper, manganese, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and thiamine. These minerals and nutrients help replenish the microbiota (microbial environment in gastrointestinal health).

The microbiota strengthens the gut, shapes the intestinal epithelium, and protects against pathogens. It also decreases inflammation in the intestine and promotes metabolism. In addition, the high fibre in the pistachio helps regulate digestion by adding bulk to the stool. Additionally, it aids in the improvement of bowel motions.

Pistachios promote healthy bacteria known as probiotics which have a super beneficial impact on gut health. Probiotics help increase the absorption of healthy nutrients like protein,  vitamins and minerals from the diet. In addition, they help eliminate harmful bacteria from the intestinal tract. They also help lower the pH level in the colon, which allows the stool to pass through it smoothly.

4. Pistachios Promotes Sexual Health

Pistachios contain a healthy amount of L-arginine, which our body uses to make nitric oxide. It helps in boosting blood flow when you feel aroused.

Vitamin E in pistachios helps improve erectile function and reduces estrogen production in the male body. In addition, pistachios are a popular nut for males in the middle east because they promote the quality of sperm in erective quality.

It is one of the few foods that are a rich source of aphrodisiac properties. Aphrodisiac properties lead to better sexual vitality, especially in males.

5. Helpful for Women 

Pistachios also help prevent and cure PCOS in women. That is because it reduces insulin levels in the body and balances hormones. As per studies, nuts containing PUFAs and MUFAs help balance insulin, androgen, and cholesterol levels.

Pistachios contain healthy nutrients such as potassium, calcium, folate, iron, and a good amount of protein and fibre essential for a baby’s healthy growth. But women should always need to consult their doctor before consuming anything in pregnancy.

6. Good for Diabetics

Pistachios are a low glycemic food. They have a low carbohydrate content which releases less sugar in the blood when our body metabolises carbohydrates in sugar. Therefore, they help lower blood sugar levels and have a low glycemic index value.

Low glycemic index foods are recommended for type 2 diabetes because they release low blood sugar and reduce blood sugar levels. However, a diabetic should eat only 1-2 servings of pistachios, not every day but every alternative day. Therefore, 30gm of pistachios per day is enough for healthy consumption.

7. Pistachios Improves Sleep Quality

Pistachios are rich in melatonin, a hormone released in the body to make us sleep. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and quality of sleep. Therefore, eating pistachios at night 2-3 hours before going to bed can improve sleep quality. 

Pistachios for Weight Loss

Pistachios are high in fibre. Consuming fibre may help you lose weight because it keeps you fuller for longer and lowers your calorie consumption, both of which aid in weight reduction.

Pistachios also improve your metabolic rate, which helps you burn more calories. The fibre in pistachios also helps in easing out digestion. Improved digestion results in a faster metabolic rate. Additionally, they are high in protein, which helps boost the body’s energy levels and metabolic rate.

They contain healthy fat such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. These fats are soluble and do not accumulate in the body to cause weight gain. As a result, pistachios help you lose weight.

Pistachios are rich in healthy nutrients and low in calories. These properties also help in weight loss. In addition, they induce the feeling of satiety which helps suppress appetite. Our bodies cannot absorb all the calories from pistachios. They can absorb just 5% of all the calories, thus leading to healthy weight reduction. A handful of pistachios kernels per day in breakfast or an evening snack can help you lose weight naturally.

A study shows that including pistachios in the behavioural weight reduction diet led to healthy weight loss and lower blood pressure.

Side effects of eating Pistachios

1. May Result in High Blood pressure

Consuming pistachios in excess can cause high blood pressure. In addition, you may experience lightheadedness, blurred vision, confusion, and fainting. Also, consuming salted pistachios might elevate your blood sodium level, increasing your chance of developing various cardiovascular illnesses including hypertension.

2. Can Affect the Digestive System

Pistachios contain high amounts of fibre. Therefore consuming pistachios in large quantities will disturb your digestion and cause diarrhoea, cramps, abdominal pain, intestinal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. Fructan present in pistachios can also cause allergies in the gastrointestinal tract.

3. Allergies

People having tree nut allergies should avoid eating pistachios. Tree nuts allergy may result in vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, itchiness in the mouth, nasal congestion, cramps, and nausea,

4. May Induce the Risk of Kidney Stone

Pistachios contain oxalates and methionine. Eating too many pistachios can increase the release of oxalates and methionine in the body. Oxalates can bind to calcium and potassium, resulting in calcium and potassium oxalates. At the same time, Methionine may convert into cysteine and may result in the formation of cystine kidney stones.

5. May Induce Weight Gain

Eating pistachios in excess can cause weight gain. That is because eating a higher amount of pistachios daily will increase your calorie intake, resulting in weight gain.

6. May Increase the Risk of Cancer

Eating roasted pistachios may increase the risk of cancer in the body. Pistachios roasted at a high temperature may form acrylamides, a carcinogen responsible for developing cancer cells in the body and may increase the chances of cancer.

Conclusion

Pistachios are healthy nuts for the human body as they contain vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, protein, fibre and minerals. In addition, they are also rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, anthocyanins, and proanthocyanidins. These nutrients heal inflammation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improve sleep quality, digestion and promote weight loss. However, everything is beneficial only when you eat them in moderation. Therefore, eat a handful (approximately 30gm) of pistachios every day. It can help provide all its health benefits. 

Excess consumption of pistachios may also result in several side effects like allergies, weight gain, risk of cancer, kidney stones, digestive problems, and high blood pressure. As a result, eating pistachios in moderation may offer you a variety of health advantages while also avoiding any hazardous side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How many pistachios should you eat in a day?

A. A handful of pistachios in the evening can help you reap all its benefits as well as enhance your metabolism.

Q. Is it OK to eat pistachios every day?

A. Eating any nut should be in moderation. Thus eating pistachios five times a day gives you a good result while maintaining their consumption.

Q. Why are pistachios so bad for you?

A. Pistachios have super health benefits and help you maintain a healthy weight, heart health and reduce the risk of cancer. You should take note of the consumption, though, because eating pistachios more than the suggested quantity can lead you to diarrhoea, cramps, abdominal pain, intestinal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome due to its high fibre content.

Q. Is Pistachio good for sperm?

A. Pistachios are highly known for their benefit of promoting sexual health in men. Pistachio is one of the foods that is a rich source of aphrodisiac properties. Aphrodisiac properties lead to better sexual vitality, especially in males.

Q. What are the worst nuts to eat?

A. Any nut in its raw form provides some health benefits. However, adjusting them as per your taste by adding salt or coating sugar on them may make them worse for you. Excess salt intake may increase sodium content in your body, and extra processed sugar may increase your calorie intake. Both these have adverse effects on your health.

Q. Are pistachios good for skin?

A. Pistachios contain vitamin C and E. Both vitamins help nourish skin while preventing cell damage and oxidative stress in the body, which leads to younger-looking glowy skin.

Q. Are pistachios bad for kidneys?

A. Pistachios do not directly impact the kidneys, but pistachios contain oxalates and methionine (which converts into cystine). Therefore, consuming many pistachios may increase the chances of oxalate and cystine kidney stones.

Q. Are pistachios good for sleep?

A. Pistachios contain more melatonin than any other nut. Melatonin is a sleep regulatory hormone. Therefore, eating a handful of pistachios can improve sleep quality and the sleep-wake cycle.

Q. Are pistachios good at night?

A. Pistachios are rich in melatonin, and melatonin is known as a sleep hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and sleep quality. Eating pistachios 2-3 hours before going to bed can naturally increase melatonin levels. Pistachios are best consumed around 8 p.m. at night

Q. Do pistachios boost testosterone?

A. Pistachios contain phytosterol in high amounts, which leads to a decline in testosterone levels in men when consumed in excess. Still, it helps in improving erectile function in men when consumed in the recommended quantity.

Q. How many pistachios should I eat to lose weight?

A. 1 ounce of pistachios kernels per day in breakfast or as an evening snack can help you lose some extra inches, as they contain fibre which reduces calorie intake by making you feel full. In addition, pistachios are the only nut with the lowest calories. Therefore, munching on pistachios helps lower your calorie intake and helps in weight loss.

Q. Do pistachio nuts make you gain weight?

A. No. Pistachios help weight loss when you consume them in moderation and recommended quantities. However, consuming more than 30gms of pistachios per day can make you gain weight. 

Q. Is Pistachio good for PCOS?

A. Nuts are proven to be good in PCOS as they help control insulin levels and balance hormones. As per studies, PUFAs and MUFAs help balance insulin, androgen, and cholesterol levels. Pistachios are rich in PUFAs and MUFAs. Therefore are helpful for women with PCOS.

Q. Does pistachio increase blood sugar?

A. No, pistachios do not increase blood sugar levels as pistachios are low in carbohydrates and have a low glycaemic index. When broken down by the body, Carbohydrates convert into blood sugar, as foods high in carbohydrates lead to high blood sugar levels.

Q. How many pistachios can a diabetic eat?

A. A handful of pistachios or 30gm pistachios per day is recommended to be consumed by a diabetic per day.

Q. Are pistachios and cashews good for diabetics?

A. Pistachios and cashews both have a low glycemic index. These nuts contain a low amount of carbohydrates and a good amount of magnesium that helps control and lower blood sugar levels.

Q. Are pistachios good for hormones?

A. Pistachios contain a high amount of melatonin. It is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and quality of sleep. Eating pistachios at night helps boost melatonin levels, leading to better sleep quality and sleep cycle

Q. What happens if you eat pistachios every day?

A. Pistachios contain healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. As a result, they help lower bad LDL cholesterol and promote good HDL cholesterol. They also help lower blood sugar levels, help in weight loss, and improve digestion and skin.

Q. Is pistachio good for pregnant ladies?

A. Pistachios contain all the healthy nutrients such as potassium, calcium, folate, iron, good for the mother and the baby. In addition, protein and fibre are necessary for a baby’s healthy growth. However, you should always consult your doctor before consuming anything in pregnancy.

Q. Do pistachios have side effects?

A. Eating pistachios in high quantities can lead to digestion problems like diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal cramps, and intestinal pain. These issues are a result of excess fibre consumption. In addition, pistachios are high in protein, and overconsumption can also increase blood pressure, weight gain and cause kidney stones.

Q. How many pistachios a day is too much?

A. Eating about 30gm of pistachios in a day is fine. However, you should eat according to your requirements in moderation and recommended quantities.

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