5 reasons to eat pistachios – just for the health of it

I do love pistachios. But then I have to say, I’m a huge fan of all nuts and seeds though pistachios are up near the top of the list of my favourites. They’re incredibly versatile and can add crunch and nutrition to both meals and snacks. I find they make for a satisfying snack along with some fruit in the middle of the afternoon.

Here are five reasons why you should add pistachios to your eating routine.

Offer health perks for your microbiome

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time writing about our microbiome– those trillions of bacteria living in the gut.

Well, here’s more.

Spanish researchers evaluated the effects of eating pistachios daily in prediabetic subjects and found that compounds found in their urine, related to healthy bacteria, showed beneficial changes that go hand in hand with decreased insulin resistance. As insulin is necessary for healthy blood sugar regulation, insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar readings and type 2 diabetes.
Provide a bounty of antioxidants

Oxidation is a culprit in a growing list of ailments from heart disease and stroke to cognitive decline and certain cancers. Enter antioxidants which counter oxidative damage. Research, though, points to antioxidants in food as being a smarter choice than going for those in supplement form. Some supplements containing these compounds actually end up being pro-oxidants, meaning they speed up oxidation. That’s the opposite of what you want.

If you notice the green and pinkish colour of pistachio nuts, you’ll  be happy to know they’re due to the pigments with antioxidant power – the lutein (yellowish) and anthocyanin (pinkish) contained. They’re also chock full of other antioxidants such as vitamin E.

In one study, researchers looked at pistachio consumption and the blood levels of various antioxidants in subjects with elevated cholesterol levels. Not only did their blood levels of these compounds increase but the levels of artery-clogging oxidized LDL-cholesterol decreased. (Oxidized cholesterol is more likely to be deposited in arteries compared to that which hasn’t been oxidized).

• Supply anti-inflammatory compounds

Inflammation in various cells and tissues is also thought to be at the root of many common diseases including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Even the risk of developing diabetes is linked to chronic inflammation. Enter pistachios and their anti-inflammatory action. The good news here is that research shows that both raw and roasted pistachios can calm the fires of inflammation.

• Eating nuts and fruit together is heart healthy

Nuts and fruit, especially dried offerings, are not only portable but may decrease heart disease risk, improve blood sugar regulation and decrease the risk of developing diabetes.

• Increase satiety

Have you ever noticed that when you eat some foods, you’re on the hunt an hour later looking for something else to eat while others keep you satisfied for longer? Some of this is due to what’s called satiety hormones (produced in the gut). Have a sugary snack and it won’t last long. Going for nuts, such as pistachios which increase your satiety and help you to avoid nibbling.

But don’t take my word for it. Snack on a piece of fruit along one day and see how long it lasts. Then the next, add a nice handful of shelled pistachios (or double that if they’re not shelled).

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Categories: Research Roundup, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

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

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4 Comments on “5 reasons to eat pistachios – just for the health of it”

  1. August 2, 2018 at 1:21 pm #

    Reason #6 – They are delicious! 😄

    • August 2, 2018 at 2:48 pm #

      Kate, great minds think alike! I did have delcious in the headline but ended up taking out for because of the length!

  2. September 26, 2019 at 1:47 pm #

    Such a delicious nut! I like them in pesto.

    • September 27, 2019 at 7:19 am #

      They are indeed! I have not tried them in pesto but it sounds like great idea. Thanks!

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