Pistachios are known to impart several benefits upon regular consumption. They include protection and relief from cardiovascular issues, weight management, protection from hypertension and diabetes, improved digestion and absorption etc. Pistachios contain several minerals, vitamins, fats, and other essential substances.
Pistachios are amongst the few nuts which can provide the body with almost all of the nutrients which are essential for its upkeep, which is why they are a favorite among people who choose to go for calorie deficit diets. They contain nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, selenium, iron, calcium, manganese, copper, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
All the above components are essential for the overall well-being and development of health. Looking at the extensive list of essential compounds present in pistachios, it is no wonder that they are considered a superfood by several dieticians.
It should be noted that pistachios contain the highest amount of phosphorus per serving besides cashews and almonds. They are also known to contain the highest amount of calcium compared to other nuts.
There have been many studies conducted about the health benefits of pistachios and findings show that consuming the nuts on a daily basis can bring you some definite health improvements, so read on and learn a few ways in which pistachios can benefit your health:
1. Pistachios Help Prevent Macular (Vision) Degeneration
Pistachios are a good source of carotenoid antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin that help to prevent the damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals are the cause of gradual loss of vision known as macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the gradual breakdown of the macula of the eye that contains the light-sensitive tissues, which are critical for vision. This is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness in aged people around the globe.
The macula is responsible for the central vision that allows a person to see fine details with clarity. The symptoms of macular degeneration include blurred vision and dark spots in central vision. These antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin are not found in other nuts. These antioxidants protect the tissues of the eyes from inflammation caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.
2. Pistachios Improve Functioning Of The Nervous System
Pistachio nuts are a rich source of vitamin B6, which the body needs in order to create the amino acids, which help to transmit the messages across the nervous system. Proper transfer of impulses through the nervous system is maintained by an insulating sheath, known as myelin sheath present around the nerve ﬁbers. Vitamin B6 plays a fundamental role in the formation of the myelin sheath.
In addition, vitamin B6 also contributes to the proper functioning of melatonin, epinephrine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid – all of which regulate the transmission of messages through the nervous system. So, it is important to include pistachios in a healthy diet in order to maintain healthy nerve functions.
3. Pistachios Help To Maintain Healthy Skin
One of the other great health benefits of pistachios is that these nuts are rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E can help in skin repair and also helps to protect skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, thereby reducing the risk of skin cancer. Not just this, pistachios also have several cosmetic effects on the skin. The natural oils present in the nuts have amazing emollient properties which moisturize the skin and protect it from excessive dryness.
The saturated fats found in pistachio nuts also work as excellent carrier oils and are widely used in traditional massage therapy and aromatherapy. The potent antioxidants such as vitamins E and A present in large quantities in these nuts help in maintaining the structure of the skin cells so that the skin remains supple and youthful. It also slows down the process of skin aging and prevents the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.
4. Pistachios Reduce Levels of Cholesterol
One of the most effective health benefits of pistachios is that it is bundled with powerful antioxidants. Even the shells of the nuts are a storehouse of antioxidants. The phytochemicals present in pistachios like polyphenolic compounds, carotenes, and vitamin E contribute to the overall antioxidant activities and remove the harmful oxygen-free radicals.
In a study about the health benefits of pistachios conducted in 2010, the researchers found that a daily intake of pistachios was instrumental in lowering the levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL, in blood. Munching on pistachio nuts lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Oleic acid, commonly known as mono-unsaturated fatty acid, is found in large quantities in pistachios. This fatty acid is required to lower the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing the level of HDL (good) cholesterol. This is possible due to the anti-oxidant property of oleic acid. It helps in reducing the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. Hence they are also known as heart-friendly nuts. The antioxidants present in pistachios such as vitamin E and vitamin A reduce inflammation of arteries and blood vessels and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases.
5. Pistachios Help To Prevent Diabetes and Diabetes Related Complications
An average serving of pistachios provides over sixty percent of the daily recommended requirement of phosphorous. The body uses phosphorous to break down proteins into the amino acids that are needed to avoid developing Type II diabetes.
The recommended daily dose of phosphorus can be fulfilled by consuming about two servings of pistachios per day. This also has the added benefit of improving glucose tolerance.
In diabetes patients, glycation is the process which creates abnormal bonds when sugar reacts with proteins. This renders the proteins useless. Pistachios, being rich in antioxidants, help to counteract this process of glycation. This reduces it to lower levels and aids in keeping blood sugar levels under control.
Also, pistachios have been shown to help various body parts cope with the stress associated with Type II diabetes. For example, people with Type II diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease due to excessive stress on blood vessels. Consumption of pistachios resulted in more relaxed and open blood vessels in patients.
6. Pistachios Provide Protection Against Cancer
A vital defense against cancer is the body’s ability to flush out the toxins and the oxygen free-radicals. This is achieved by the high levels of antioxidants present in pistachio which bind to free radicals and neutralize them.
Also, the presence of vitamin E in pistachios is of critical importance since it is involved in the chemical pathways which help to identify cancerous cells and kill them by means of programmed cell death or apoptosis.
7. Pistachios are A Rich Source of Minerals
Pistachios contain many vital minerals that are essential to keep our body in good health. They are a rich source of copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium and zinc. About 1 cup of pistachios provides approximately 80% of the daily recommended dose of copper, which is essential for the production of red blood cells and a healthy nervous system.
They should be made part of a balanced diet as they are a rich source of healthy fats, proteins, and minerals. They are loaded with vitamin E (especially gamma-tocopherol), folate, and B-complex vitamins.
8. Pistachios Aid In Weight Management and Weight Loss
Nuts and weight management usually don’t work together but as long as the intake is well within limits, some nuts like pistachios do promote weight loss. Due to their low saturated fat content and high dietary fiber content, pistachios can be considered as essential components of our daily diet. Thanks to their dietary fiber content, (about 3 grams per 30 grams of pistachios), they fill you up faster. This ensures that you don’t consume more calories through the rest of the day. This is why most people prefer to break their fast with a handful of pistachios or other nuts. Because of the high protein content, these nuts promote metabolism and the fat gets consumed faster, thus increasing weight loss.
9. Pistachios Improve Oxygen Carrying Capacity of Blood
Pistachios are packed with B complex vitamins, especially vitamin B6 which is an essential vitamin for the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the main component of red blood cells and helps in carrying oxygen to all the organs, muscles and tissues of the body.
Regular consumption of pistachios is helpful in curing conditions such as anemia. Pistachios help to increase the supply of oxygen to various parts of the body which helps to enhance the functioning of various organs.
10. Pistachios Boost the Immune System
Pistachios are rich in vitamin B6, which enhances the functions of the lymph glands (thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen). These lymph glands are the main centers for the production of lymphocytes, which is a type of white blood cell.
This vitamin, which is present in pistachios, ensures optimum production of white blood cells. These white blood cells protect the body against infection caused by bacteria and viruses. Data proves that regular consumption of vitamin B6 increases immune response, even in critically ill patients.
While pistachios are good for overall health, excessive consumption can lead to increase in weight, stomach ache, and diarrhea. Hence, care should be taken to limit the intake.