A favorite mid-afternoon snack for many is a handful of pistachios. And with National Pistachio Day is coming up on the 26th, I figured I’d give you all the facts about this little green nut or should I say kernel. That’s right, the pistachio isn’t a nut, it’s actually a seed. The pistachio is technically the seed of a drupe- a fruit containing a large central seed or kernel. We commonly refer to the pistachio as a nut because it is so similar in nutrient content to other nuts, containing healthy fats and protein. So let’s get cracking on this terrific seed.
The pistachio is often referred to as a nutrient powerhouse because it packs so many different vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients into its small package. Pistachios, like other nuts, tend to be high in calories, protein, and fat; however, they are high in the good type of fat- mono- and poly-unsaturated fat. These types of fats can actually help to lower the bad type of cholesterol- LDL- in your body. And since pistachios are high in fat and protein, they can help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Besides these macronutrients, pistachios are high in antioxidants like vitamin E. Antioxidants are necessary for your body to maintain healthy cell membranes and to fight off those pesky free radicals, which can cause major damage to your body over time. If these reasons aren’t enough to boost your pistachio consumption, look at this list of other nutrients found in pistachios- iron, copper, potassium, B vitamins, calcium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. Now that is what I call a powerhouse!
The Ultimate Snack
Pistachios actually are a little bit lower in calories than some other nuts like macadamias and walnuts but what really makes them a great snack is their shell. Having a handful of pistachios in their shells makes it appear that you have a larger snack than you actually do. Plus, the time it takes to crack each nut open gives your body more time to digest and feel the satiety this snack provides you with. Don’t know what to do with the leftover shells? You can actually crush the shells up and sprinkle them in your garden to act as a natural deterrent to snails and slugs. Who knew?!
Your Turn to Take Action: Try adding a handful of shelled pistachios to your next salad or munching on a little baggie full of these for your next snack and let me know what you think in the comments below. You may have just found your new favorite snack!