In America, pistachios might be considered a lowly snack food that you pick up at the liquor store for road trips, but in the Middle East Pistachios are highly coveted. Pistachios have been grown in the Middle East for thousands of years, where they are considered a delicacy. Pistachios are even mentioned in the Old Testament (Genesis 43:11). It was not until the 1960’s that pistachios were first grown in America. What began as a small-scale crop production has skyrocketed into a booming business. Today, the U.S. produces over 400 million pounds of pistachios annually and exports them all over the world.
Did you know that pistachios are the lowest calorie nut? That’s right, one pistachio only has 4 calories, which beats even peanuts, at 6 calories per nut. One serving of pistachios has a whopping 49 nuts, which contains 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat (the majority of the fat is heart-healthy unsaturated fat). The health benefits of pistachios go beyond just protein and fiber. Pistachios are a good source of potassium (which can help lower blood pressure), B-vitamins (to aid metabolism) and they have more carotenoids (a powerful antioxidant) than any other nut. Eating one ounce of nuts per day has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and may help with weight control.
Pistachios are great for snacking on, but they can also be used in baking and cooking. Pistachios pair well vegetables like asparagus, and citrus fruits like grapefruit or cranberries. They can be tossed on salads, added to whole grain pasta or rice dishes, and even be made into pesto to top chicken or fish.
Pistachios should be stored in an airtight container in the pantry. If you are lazy and just want to leave them in an unsealed bag it’s best to keep them in the refrigerator for maximum freshness. Pistachios can be stored for up to a year in the refrigerator.
Now that you know the health facts, go grab some pistachios and get crackin’!
Try some of these pistachio recipes
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.