Pistachios- Shelled or Unshelled?

Now that science is showing that eating pistachios is very smart indeed, there are other key decisions to make: shelled versus unshelled.

When you’re deciding between shelled and unshelled, you might want to consider the advantages of going for those in the shell. And because they’re not a tough nut to crack, they’re easy to eat right out of their casings. And as you remove them from their shells, you’ll likely also end up eating all the pistachio skins – a very good thing indeed.

Italian researchers compared the skin and seeds (the nut) as to the antioxidant levels and the skins outmatched the nut.

Getting your nuts unshelled also aids in your waist management efforts. James Painter, PhD, RD, of Eastern Illinois University, calls it the “Pistachio Principle” where you can end up consuming fewer calories but not because you have restricted them.  Simply put, it’s caloric reduction without calorie restriction.

Dr. Painter conducted two studies that back this up.  In his first study, the subjects chose either in-shell or shelled pistachios. Because it took the subjects longer to remove the shells, they ended up eating 50% less than the shelled nut group. And the good news was that they reported feeling equally as satisfied as the group consuming more.

In his other study, the scientist assessed the impact of visual cues of having eaten. On two days pistachios in the shell were eaten over an 8-hour shift. On one day, the empty shells were left on the desks as a visual reminder of how much had been eaten. On the second day, the shells were taken away.  The lesson here is to keep the evidence of what you’ve eaten in front of you. The subjects ate a whopping 35 % less when they saw the shells.

You can use the same visual cue principles when eating all kinds of foods -from chicken wings to peanuts in the shell – to help you control portions. Simply don’t discard the waste until you’re finished eating.

There’s other good news about pistachios and weight control:  a one-ounce serving equals 49 pistachios — more nuts per serving than any other nut.

Here are some more nuggets of knowledge about these nuts:

•     One ounce  of pistachios supplies 170 calories and is chock full of   assorted nutrients including protein, dietary fibre, thiamine, vitamin B6, copper, manganese and phosphorus.

•    Pistachios and their potassium punch
Pistachios, when compared to any other tree nut, reign supreme in terms  of  their potassium content. One ounce provides 295 milligrams of potassium compared to 362 milligrams in a small banana – the fruit often considered to be the potassium champ.

•    Pistachios  and resveratrol
These nuts contain resveratrol, the compound which has led to a heart healthy halo for red wine.

•    A real royal nut
The Queen of Sheba loved these nuts so much that she deemed them to be a royal food and had the entire harvest reserved exclusively for her alone.


What’s your favourite nut? Do you snack on nuts?

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Categories: Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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