by Cat Ebeling, RN, BSN & Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist
co-authors of the new Fat Burning Kitchen program
Some people mistakenly think that pistachios are a "fattening" food... but despite having loads of healthy fats, these yummy little snacks can actually HELP you to burn off stomach fat. Let's see why...
Do you remember eating pistachios when they used to be dyed a deep pinkish/red? They were always so delicious, but after eating a bunch of those bright "red" nuts, your fingers and hands would be stained red.
Pistachios, as we now know, do not grow as magenta-colored nuts but come in a nice natural tan colored shell with a mild-tasting, crunchy, green and yellow interior. Nuts have risen in popularity lately, but did you know that pistachios are probably one of the most nutritious of all nuts?
It's hard to compare anything to the nutritional benefit of nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans... but pistachios give them a run for the money!
Just a one-ounce serving of pistachios will give you over 30 vitamins, minerals and other super nutrients.
One of the best things about nuts in general, is that they are full of minerals that are VITAL to our body's proper functioning. And if you have paid much attention to nutrition news lately, you may be aware that minerals are getting harder and harder to obtain from our diet, and many people are mineral-deficient in one way or another.
So what are these great nutrients in pistachios?
Well for starters, pistachios are full of copper, phosphorus, and manganese (different from magnesium).
Copper is made up of multiple enzymes that help to create many of the necessary biochemical reactions in your body and also forms connective tissue. Manganese also helps form connective and skeletal tissue, and is instrumental in growth, reproduction and (this is good!) carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Phosphorus is very important for strong bones and teeth and works with calcium to prevent osteoporosis.
Other important minerals are magnesium -- necessary for more than 300 different important biochemical reactions in your body, and good for your heart and blood pressure; potassium --an electrolyte that keeps the body in the correct acid/base balance and also helps in forming proteins, metabolizing carbohydrates and building muscle.
And there is more to this nutritional powerhouse...
Pistachios are a rich source of B vitamins. B vitamins are essential for good nerve transmission, muscle building, a good mood, lots of energy, and infection-fighting power. They are also one of the highest protein nuts (as well as healthy fats), so they make a great satisfying snack that keeps your blood sugar and insulin at a good steady level.
In one study on pistachios and antioxidants, pistachios ranked up in the group with the highest amount of antioxidant activity above over 100 other foods. Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage, which saves your cells and prevents aging and disease among other things.
We hear a lot about eye health and nutrients for the eyes lately, and guess what-- pistachios contain generous amount of lutein and zeaxanthin which prevent macular degeneration and other eye diseases related to aging.
Last but not least, pistachios are full of appetite satisfying fiber -- as much as a serving of oatmeal.
Nuts in general are a great source of fiber, which is valuable for fighting cancer, controlling blood sugar, and aids in a feeling of fullness. Most people only get about half the recommended amount of fiber they need in their diets, so eating pistachios will help add to your dietary intake.
While eating extremely large quantities of pistachios would be a LOT of calories... the good news is that the protein, good fats and fiber in them are nutritious and satisfy so much of the nutrient needs of your body, it's VERY difficult to overeat them.
Even when only eating small servings of these nuts, they have been proven to provide a high rate of satiety. Besides, having to shell all those pistachios actually ends up making you eat them a little more slowly, so the message to your brain that you are full happens on less nuts than if you were eating something already out of its shell.
Try to go for the all-natural or organic pistachios with no salt of low salt. Some brands of pistachios are a bit heavy on the salt.