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Pistachio: A treasure chest of good health

Pistachios are like a treasure chest full of nutrients. 100 grams of 562 calories, 45 grams fat which contains PUFA as well, 0 cholesterol, 28 grams carbs, and 20 grams protein. It also contains an appreciable amount of sodium and potassium, along with vitamin A, B6, and, calcium, iron and magnesium.

Whether for desserts, stuffing for chickens or turkeys, or even for toppings, a nut that can fit all of these very well is pistachio. Interestingly, they’re called nuts, but botanically pistachios are seeds. So, pistachios are the seeds of the pistachio tree. They are green in colour and slightly sweet in taste and people have been eating them for thousands of years now.

Origin of Pistachios

The pistachio tree is native to regions of Central Asia. This area makes up present-day Iran and Afghanistan. Archaeological findings show that pistachio was very popular during the 6750 BCE. They came to the United States in the mid-19th century and commercial production began in the 1970s.

In fact, in the 19th century, the pistachio was cultivated commercially in English-speaking parts like Australia, New Mexico, and California.

Nutritional Profile of Pistachios

Pistachios are like a treasure chest full of nutrients. 100 grams of 562 calories, 45 grams fat which contains PUFA as well, 0 cholesterol, 28 grams carbs, and 20 grams protein. But that’s not just it!

It also contains an appreciable amount of sodium and potassium, along with vitamin A, B6, and, calcium, iron and magnesium.

The abundance of nutrients is the reason why these are hugely popular since ancient times. Due to the low cholesterol, it is highly suitable for desserts and other dishes which involve a high use of fat.

Major Health Benefits

1. Goodness of Antioxidants

Antioxidants prevent cell damage and help in reducing the risk of disease, such as cancer. In fact, pistachios are found to contain more antioxidants than most of the seeds and nuts. Only walnuts and pecans contain more.

Some of the studies have shown that people eat 1-2 servings of pistachios everyday have greater levels of lutein and γ-Tocopherol. These antioxidants promote better eye health. They protect your eyes from damage caused by blue light for using electronic devices for prolonged periods. They even help to prevent age-related macular degeneration which is a condition in which your central vision is impaired or lost.

2. Benefits backed by Proteins

Proteins comprise about 20% of their weight. They also have a higher ratio of essential amino acids than any other nut. Some semi-essential are also found. One of these semi-essential amino acids is L-arginine. It accounts for 2% of the amino acids in pistachios. It’s converted into nitric oxide in our bodies, which is a compound that causes your blood vessels to dilate. Hence, it aids blood flow.

3. Helping hand in losing weight

Pistachios contain fewer calories. And in fact, despite being an energy-dense food, nuts are one of the effective foods when it comes to weight loss.

Pistachios are rich and fibre and proteins. Due to this, they impart a feeling of fullness and help to eat less. According to studies, people who regularly consume pistachios as evening snack are found to have twice the reduction in body mass index.

Another factor that contributes to pistachios’ weight loss properties is that their fat content might not be fully absorbed. This is true for some other nuts as well. They provide healthy fats in appropriate amounts in such a way that instead of gaining, people end up losing weight upon regular consumption.

4. Promote healthy gut bacteria

As mentioned earlier, pistachios are high in fibre. Fibre moves through our digestive system mostly undigested. Also, some types of fibre are digested by the good bacteria in your gut, acting as prebiotics.

Gut bacteria ferment the fibre and convert it into short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids have several health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing digestive disorders, cancer, and heart diseases.

5. Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure

Pistachios contain zero cholesterol. So, they may reduce your risk of heart disease in various ways.

Being high in antioxidants and no cholesterol, pistachios may lower blood cholesterol and improve blood pressure, thus lowering your risk of heart disease. They reduce the total and LDL(bad) cholesterol and increase HDL(good) cholesterol. Moreover, pistachios seem to lower blood pressure more than other nuts.

A Fun Food

Pistachio is a fun to eat food and can be consumed in various forms.

It’s a great handy snack in its roasted form. It is widely used in a bakery for garnishing, as a topping on cookies, cakes and pastries. It is the prime constituent of Pistachio butter. It is also used to impart colour to various dishes. It also brings out great flavour in some India traditional sweets.

Due to its various health benefits and convenience of consumption, it can add a boost to your healthy diet, and can also act as an alternative to the orthodox nuts that are being consumed.

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