Pistachios are rich in a variety of nutrients and may support weight loss, gut health, blood sugar control, and heart health. They are also versatile and can be enjoyed in many recipes.
Pistachio nuts are not only tasty and fun to eat, but also highly nutritious.
In fact, these edible seeds of the Pistacia vera tree contain healthy fats and are a good source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants (
What’s more, they contain several essential nutrients and can aid weight loss and heart and gut health.
Interestingly, evidence of pistachio intake can be traced back 300,000 years. Nowadays, they’re very popular in many dishes, including ice cream and desserts (
Here are 9 evidence-based health benefits of pistachios.
Pistachios are very nutritious, with a 1-ounce (oz), or 28-gram (g), serving of about 49 pistachios containing the following nutrients (
- Calories: 159
- Carbs: 8 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Fat: 13 g
- Potassium: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Phosphorus: 11% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 28% of the DV
- Thiamine: 21% of the DV
- Copper: 41% of the DV
- Manganese: 15% of the DV
Notably, pistachios are one of the most vitamin B6-rich foods available.
Vitamin B6 is important for several bodily functions, including blood sugar regulation and the formation of hemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen in red blood cells (
Pistachios are high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They also boast several other important nutrients, including vitamin B6 and potassium.
Antioxidants are vital to your health.
They prevent cell damage and play a key role in reducing the risk of certain conditions, such as cancer (
In one 2010 study, people who ate either one or two servings of pistachios per day for 4 weeks had greater levels of two antioxidants, lutein and vitamin E, compared with those who did not eat pistachios (11).
Interestingly, the antioxidants in pistachios are highly bioavailable. Therefore, they are more likely to be absorbed during digestion (
Pistachios are among the most antioxidant-rich nuts available. They’re high in lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which promote eye health.
While eating nuts has many health benefits, they’re typically high in calories.
However, pistachios are among the lowest calorie nuts.
Pistachios contain fewer calories and more protein than many other types of nuts. They are also a good source of essential amino acids, which must be obtained through the diet.
Despite being an energy-dense food, nuts are one of the most weight loss-friendly foods.
While few studies have looked at the effects of pistachios on weight, those that exist are promising.
According to one review of 11 studies, regular consumption of pistachios may be linked to a reduction in body mass index, which is used to estimate body fat. However, the review also noted that pistachios were not associated with changes in body weight or belly fat (
Another older 24-week study in individuals with excess weight showed that those who consumed 20% of calories from pistachios lost 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters) more from their waistline than those who did not eat pistachios (
One factor possibly contributing to pistachios’ weight loss properties is that their fat content might not be fully absorbed (
In fact, several studies have demonstrated the malabsorption of fats from nuts. This is because part of their fat content is stuck within their cell walls, preventing it from being digested in the gut (
What’s more, in-shell pistachios are good for mindful eating, as shelling the nuts takes time and slows the rate of eating. The leftover shells also give you a visual clue of how many nuts you have eaten (
One 2011 study showed that individuals who ate in-shell pistachios consumed 41% fewer calories than those who ate shelled pistachios (
Eating pistachio nuts may aid weight loss. In-shell pistachios are especially beneficial, as they promote mindful eating.
Pistachios are high in fiber, with one serving containing 3 g (
Gut bacteria then ferment the fiber and convert it into short-chain fatty acids, which may have several health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing digestive disorders, cancer, and heart disease (
Butyrate is perhaps the most beneficial of these short-chain fatty acids.
In one 2014 study, eating pistachios was shown to increase the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in the gut to a greater extent than eating almonds (
Pistachios are high in fiber, which is good for your gut bacteria. Eating pistachios may increase the number of bacteria that produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids like butyrate.
Pistachios may reduce your risk of heart disease in various ways.
In addition to being high in antioxidants, pistachios may lower blood cholesterol and improve blood pressure, thus lowering your risk of heart disease (
Many studies on pistachios and blood lipids are conducted by replacing part of the calories in a diet with pistachios. Up to 67% of these studies have shown reductions in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases in HDL (good) cholesterol (
Meanwhile, none of these studies observed that eating pistachios harmed the blood lipid profile (
Another older 4-week study in people with high LDL cholesterol had participants consume 10% of their daily calories from pistachios (
The study showed that the diet lowered LDL cholesterol by 9%. What’s more, a diet consisting of 20% of calories from pistachios lowered LDL cholesterol by 12% (
In another 2010 study, 32 males followed a Mediterranean diet for 4 weeks. Then, pistachios were added to that diet in place of its monounsaturated fat content, totaling about 20% of their daily calorie intake (
After 4 weeks on the diet, they experienced a 23% reduction in LDL cholesterol, 21% reduction in total cholesterol, and 14% reduction in triglycerides (
Moreover, pistachios seem to lower blood pressure more than other nuts.
A review of 21 studies found that eating pistachios reduced systolic blood pressure by 1.82 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and decreased diastolic blood pressure by 0.8 mmHg (
Studies show that eating pistachios may help lower blood cholesterol. It may also lower blood pressure more than other nuts.
The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels. It’s important that it works properly, as endothelial dysfunction is a risk factor for heart disease (
Vasodilation is the widening or dilating of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is characterized by reduced vasodilation, which leads to decreased blood flow and increased blood pressure (
Like most nuts, pistachios are a source of the amino acid L-arginine, which is converted into nitric oxide in the body. Therefore, these tiny nuts may play an important role in promoting blood vessel health (
One study in 42 people who consumed 1.5 oz (40 g) of pistachios a day for 3 months showed improvements in markers of endothelial function and vascular stiffness (
Another older 4-week study had 32 males consume a diet consisting of 20% of calories from pistachios. It found that endothelium-dependent vasodilation improved by 30%, compared with when they followed a Mediterranean diet (
Proper blood flow is important for many bodily functions, including erectile function.
In one study, regular consumption of nuts, including pistachios, was associated with improvements in sexual desire and orgasmic function in males (
Pistachio nuts may play an important role in promoting blood vessel health. That’s because they are rich in L-arginine, which, when converted into nitric oxide, helps dilate your blood vessels.
Perhaps not surprisingly, studies have shown that eating pistachios can help promote healthy blood sugar levels.
One review of six studies concluded that pistachios could significantly reduce fasting blood sugar and improve insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome (
In another 2014 study, individuals with type 2 diabetes showed a 9% reduction in fasting blood sugar after eating 0.9 oz (25 g) of pistachios as a snack twice per day for 12 weeks (
Therefore, simply adding pistachios to your diet may help manage your blood sugar levels in the long term.
Pistachios have a low glycemic index, which might promote lower blood sugar levels.
Pistachios can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
These include as a snack, salad garnish, or pizza topping, or even in baking, adding a beautiful green or purple color to various desserts and dishes.
Some delicious and green-colored desserts include pistachio gelato or cheesecake.
Plus, like other nuts, they can be used to make pesto or nut butter.
You can even try sprinkling them over your favorite oven-baked fish, adding them to your morning granola, or making your own dessert crust.
Lastly, pistachios can be enjoyed on their own as a convenient, tasty, and healthy snack.
Besides being a great snack, pistachios can be used in baking and cooking, adding a green or purple color to various dishes.
Pistachios are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and various nutrients, including vitamin B6 and thiamine.
Their health effects may include weight loss benefits, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and improved gut, eye, and blood vessel health.
What’s more, they’re delicious, versatile, and fun to eat. For most people, including pistachios in their diet is a great way to improve overall health.