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A 1-ounce serving of pistachios, or about 49 kernels, provides you with 13 grams of fat — one of the lowest fat contents of all nuts. Eleven of those grams are from healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, while only 2 grams are from saturated fat. According to a review of studies of pistachios, published in 2016 in Nutrition Today, a wealth of research suggests that consuming these tiny nuts may support hearth health by improving cholesterol levels — both raising “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL.
In addition, pistachio consumption appears to lower blood pressure, which also positively affects cardiovascular health. A review of clinical trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 found that, among all tree nuts, pistachios show the greatest potential to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers.
It’s easy to eat too many pistachios, and you’ll want to watch your intake — a 1-ounce serving supplies 162 calories. However, choosing pistachios in their shells as a snack appears to promote weight control. According to a 2011 study published in Appetite, subjects who had to open the shells to retrieve pistachios stopped eating sooner than those fed shelled kernels, resulting in a consumption of 41 percent fewer calories. The accumulation of shells appeared to act as a visual, psychological cue to stop eating.
Pistachios may also have benefits for people with diabetes. In a study published in the Review of Diabetic Studies in 2014, diabetic subjects who ate 25 grams of pistachios, or about an ounce, daily for 12 weeks improved their blood glucose levels. They also reduced their blood pressure, body mass index and C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body.
Pistachios provide plant-based protein, with 6 grams in just an ounce. Substitute these nuts for other sources of protein, like red meat and cheese, or boost the protein content of your fish entree with a crushed pistachio coating. These nuts also provide 3 grams of fiber in a serving, aiding digestion and keeping you feeling full for better weight management. In addition, pistachios contain a rich assortment of minerals and vitamins essential to overall good health, including iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, B-complex vitamins and vitamins E and K.