FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Nuts About Pistachios?

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Pistachio nuts in and out of the shell

Pistachio nuts in and out of the shell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pistachio originated in the Mediterranean and Middle East and is available year-round.  It is high in vitamin B6, fiber, protein, thiamine, copper, manganese, and phosphorus.  It is a good source for potassium, vitamin K, magnesium, and iron.

Pistachios have been enjoyed for centuries; some found in Jordan have been carbon-dated back to 6760 BCE.  Iran claims a pistachio tree reputed to be more than 700 years old.   Interestingly, dye is used on the shells to supposedly conceal the stains left by those who picked the nuts.  This practice continues since that is the color most people associate with them.

What is the healthy evidence?  In one study (2008) in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, two levels of pistachios (1 oz. or 2 oz), were given daily to assess their effects on cardiovascular disease markers.

The results?  It was reported that both intake levels significantly lowered cholesterol and increased the level of HDL (healthy cholesterol).  The higher intake produced more beneficial results, however.

Recent research was presented as an abstract at the 2012 meeting of the Experimental Biology conference on the effects of pistachios as a prebiotic on the microbial environment of the gastrointestinal tract.  Prebiotics serve as food for the normal “friendly” beneficial bacteria contributing to intestinal health.  Sixteen healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to eat a regular Western-style diet that included either 0 ounces, 1.5 ounces or 3 ounces of pistachios or almonds daily.  Their diets were preplanned and calorie-controlled.  Stool samples revealed that the individuals who consumed up to 3 ounces of pistachios (about 147 nuts or 2 servings) per day had increased changes in levels of various gut bacteria, namely lactic acid bacteria and Bifidobacteria that help the digestive tract break down food components.

It was also noted that there was an increase in beneficial butyrate-producing bacteria thought to be a preferred energy source for colon epithelial cells and may maintain colon health in humans. Almonds also had beneficial effects, but the pistachio effect was more profound.

Pistachios can be added to many dishes or add them  to salads or chop them into desserts to provide a crunchy texture.  All nuts (in moderation) can provide a healthy snack instead of the myriad of snack foods in the snack aisles of supermarkets.  Enjoy!!!

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One thought on “Nuts About Pistachios?

  1. I am always taking vitamin B6 supplements for nerve support. Its really great. ‘,:;:

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