Small but rich in beneficial properties and with an excellent nutritional profile; discover the characteristics and benefits of pistachio, the ideal fruit for those who need to regulate blood sugar levels and ensure better cardiovascular health.
Pistachio (Pistacia vera) is an oily fruit with a high nutritional profile, particularly rich in heart-friendly fatty acids, proteins, potassium, vitamin K, γ-tocopherol (vitamin E), a certain number of phytochemicals and has a unique color (green and purple) that represents the result of its lutein and anthocyanin content.
There are about 20 species of shrubs belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, of the Pistacia genus that produce pistachio (including Pistacia vera, Pistacia atlantica, Pistacia terebinthus, Pistacia khinjuk and Pistacia lentiscus), a fruit that is mainly cultivated in Iran (about 40% of global production), the Middle East, the United States (second largest producer in the world) and in countries in the Mediterranean basin such as Italy and Greece.
The pistachio plant is a medium-sized, broad, bushy-looking deciduous tree, probably native to the mountain ranges of western Asia and Anatolia. There are several pistachio cultivars but the most cultivated for commercial purposes is the Kerman variety, while in Italy the most common varieties are that of Bronte, Napoletana, Cerasola, Ragalina and Insolia.
Pistachios: calories and nutritional values
Pistachios are composed of about 45% of fats and are mainly “good” fats such as monounsaturated (including oleic acid, the same as olive oil) and polyunsaturated (mainly linoleic acid, of the Omega-6 series). In addition to fats, pistachios are represented by 20% of proteins and 27% of carbohydrates, they are also an excellent source of fiber (10.6 g / 100 g). The calories of pistachios are about 560 per 100 grams of edible portion.
Among the minerals, the most represented are potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, while the most present vitamins are γ-tocopherol (vitamin E), vitamin C and vitamin B6.
Nutritional values per 100g of pistachios:
- Waterfall: 4.37 g
- kcal: 560
- Proteins: 20.16 g
- Fat: 45.32 g
- Of which saturated: 5.907 g
- Fibers: 10.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.17 g
- Of which sugars: 7.66 g
- Potassium: 1025 mg
- Phosphorus: 490 mg
- Gamma tocopherol: 20.41 mg
- C vitamin: 5.6 mg
- Phytosterols: 214 mg
- Glycemic index: 15
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Pistachio: nutritional properties
- Magnesium: Pistachios are rich in magnesium which helps prevent osteoporosis, diseases of the nervous system and the immune system. This mineral is involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions and plays a vital role in a wide range of important biological reactions. The clinical symptoms of its deficiency are hypocalcemia, neuromuscular hyperexcitability, hypokalaemia, cardiac dysrhythmias and acute myocardial infarction (AMI);
- Vitamin E: Pistachios are excellent sources of vitamin E, in particular γ-tocopherol (23 mg / 100 g), a powerful lipid antioxidant essential for maintaining the integrity of the mucosa and skin, which also acts as a scavenger of harmful radicals free of oxygen;
- Fiber: thanks to the high content of dietary fiber, pistachios promote digestive health, satiety and reduce the risk of incurring various diseases (cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes and obesity);
- Good fats: the fat content of pistachios is just under 50% and it is mainly fats that are friends of our heart, the mono and polyunsaturated ones;
- Folate (vitamin B9): like all nuts, pistachios are also a good source of folate, essential vitamins involved in normal cell function, tissue growth, reduction of fatigue and the risk of fetal malformations;
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is necessary for hormone production and health and helps the body use B vitamins. Its deficiency can cause abnormal levels of serum phosphate (hypophosphatemia) resulting in loss of appetite, anemia, muscle weakness, bone pain, rickets (in children), osteomalacia (in adults), increased sensitivity to infections and numbness;
- Calcium: pistachios are an excellent source of calcium, the fundamental mineral of our organism as a structural element, it is involved in cell signaling, in mediating the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, in the transmission of nerve impulses, in muscle contraction and in the secretion of various hormones such as insulin;
- Iron: the iron present in pistachios is non-heme (not easily absorbed) and is an essential mineral for development and health as a key component of hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen, essential for cell growth and differentiation;
- Phytosterols: also called plant sterols, perform a contrast action against “bad” cholesterol, or LDL;
- Antioxidants: Pistachios are very rich in antioxidant substances such as carotenes, vitamin E and polyphenolic antioxidant compounds that help remove toxic free radicals from the human body by protecting it from various diseases such as infections and some types of cancer.
Pistachio: health benefits
The richness of the nutrients present gives pistachios numerous health benefits. Let’s see what they are.
✓ Anti-inflammatory action
Pistachios are an excellent source of antioxidant molecules (in particular proanthocyanidins) which act by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
✓ Weight loss
When taken in moderation, pistachios can help control body weight thanks to their high satiating effect. Studies show that the reduction in weight gain is favored by the fiber content, the slower digestion they cause and the protein intake. Furthermore, the amount of unsaturated fatty acids and the protein content of these fruits would cause an increase in energy expenditure at rest.
✓ Lower cholesterol and promote heart health
Among the properties of pistachio we find those relating to the cardiovascular system. According to several studies, regular consumption of pistachios (30g per day) would act by reducing total cholesterol by up to 10.1%, LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 8.6% and improving functionality. endothelial.
✓ Reduction of blood sugar
According to this study, regular and prolonged consumption of pistachios would be useful in treating patients with type 2 diabetes as it would have a hypoglycemic and insulin-lowering effect, thus promoting a more metabolic profile healthy.
Pistachios: how to use and store them
Let’s start by saying how many pistachios to eat per day: the recommended daily dose is approximately 30 grams which correspond to 25/30 pistachios.
Prefer the purchase of whole pistachios, with the shell still protecting them or at least with their purplish peel, the intact ones can be placed in a cool and dry place for several months, the shelled ones are preferable to collect them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.
Here are some ideas to enrich your pistachio diet:
- Add a spoonful of pistachios to your mixed salad, you will enrich it with taste, color and health;
- A simple vegetable sauce will not be boring at all if you add some pistachios during cooking;
- You can chop them and make your fresh fruit salad crunchy (you will also lower the glycemic index);
- Not just oily seeds, try adding pistachios to the bread you prepare at home;
- Those with a sweet tooth can add pistachios to yogurt or ice cream.
Furthermore, a fantastic oil can be extracted from pistachio, ideal for those with particularly dry skin, it can also be used as a “base oil” in aromatherapy and cosmetics.
Pistachios: contraindications and potential negative effects
People allergic to peanuts must pay close attention to the consumption of pistachios, and cross-reactions with other related trees and fruits of the Anacardiaceae family such as mango can occur.
Reaction symptoms can range from simple itchy skin (hives) to severe anaphylactic manifestations, including difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.