What are pistachio nuts?
Pistachio has been a symbol of health and well-being ever since ancient times, as it contains essential nutrients for a good health.
It is widely grown in the United States, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and China, but it requires 8-10 years from planting until harvesting the first fruits.
The fruit is actually a drupe and the core of the seed is the edible part. It grows in the form of bunches, just like grapes. On the outside the mature fruit has a whitish color, it is hard and it’s cracked peel reveals a yellow-green core, 2.5 cm in length and 1 cm width in diameter.
Nutritional properties and health benefits
Regarding the nutritional value of pistachios, in general, we can say that 100 grams of the product contain about 557 calories.
More specifically, it contains 44 grams of fat, 21 grams of protein and 28 g of carbohydrate. Also, pistachios contain water, fiber, minerals and vitamins. The latter are mainly represented by the group B and, in particular, folic acid, also called vitamin B9. Mineral salts include calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and phosphorus.
Except the salty kind, pistachios are low in sodium. Potassium content is higher than that of bananas and the minerals found in pistachios are very important for cells and tissues. Pistachios also help maintain strong bones and teeth.
It protects us from cancer
The key ingredient is vitamin E, which is found in abundance in pistachio in form of gamma-tocopherol, which numerous studies have confirmed that it has a protective role against cancer.
“It is acknowledged that vitamin E provides a certain degree of protection against some types of cancer. Thus, high levels of gamma-tocopherol could reduce the risk of cancer, especially lung cancer”, states Dr. Ladia M. Hernandez, a dietitian in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas and coordinator of the study which was presented at the annual Congress of the American Association of Cancer Research.
The team of researchers from the University of Texas has monitored two groups of volunteers for six weeks. After several weeks in which one group introduced 68 grams of raw pistachios in their daily diet, while the other group followed a regular diet only, it was noticed an increased level of gamma-tocopherol that protects us from cancer.
Among other rich sources of gamma-tocopherol, the researchers include peanuts, pecans, nut kernels, soybeans and corn oil. “Pistachios are one of the best foods for our health, and 60 grams of pistachios consumed daily can reduce the risk of lung cancer without affecting the body weight”, adds the study’s coordinator.
It helps maintain a healthy heart
Previous research confirmed that pistachios are beneficial for the heart, by lowering “bad” cholesterol level and ensuring an optimal intake of antioxidants, essential nutrients that protect our health. In combination with a healthy diet, pistachios reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It reduces stress
Due to the substances it contains, pistachio neutralizes the harmful effects of stress. Eat a handful of raw pistachios every day and reduce the effects of stress on blood pressure. “In a study that lasted 10 years, men who have experienced a heart reaction to a stress factor are more exposed to high blood pressure at some point in life. In general, strong reactions to stress factors are partly genetic, but they can be controlled by diet and an exercise program.
Thus, lifestyle changes can determine a decrease in the intensity of biological reactions caused by stressful stimuli”, states Dr. Sheila G. West, associate professor of behavioral biology.
Also, we must not forget that pistachios are an important source of magnesium, the best anti-stress mineral acknowledged by doctors.
It improves bowel transit
It is easy to introduce it in your daily menu as it is an excellent choice for an early morning or evening snack before bedtime. Experts say that it plays an important part in controlling the appetite, because it contains high quantities of fiber.
Basically, the pistachio is one of the richest foods in fiber: 3 g fiber in 28 g of pistachios, which means about 12% of the recommended daily intake. In order to emphasize the significant amount of fiber, which has the ability to improve intestinal transit, we must mention that pistachios contain twice as much fiber than nuts consumed in the same amount and about the same amount of fiber found in a portion of oatmeal.
It protects the eyesight
Unlike other oleaginous fruits, pistachios contain two extremely important substances for eyes’ health: lutein and zeaxanthin. Ophthalmologists state that these two antioxidants protect and reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration, the main cause leading to weakening of vision and blindness.
Roasted and salty pistachio is not a good choice, neither for those who have kidney problems nor for those with high blood pressure. Otherwise, the pistachio is an excellent nutrient (it has high-quality protein), but keep in mind that it may fatten as it has a high caloric density. Try to eat without any salt and no more than 50 grams daily.
The salt can lead to the formation of kidney stones, water retention in the tissues, increased blood pressure, which also has an adverse effect on kidney function.