When you think about healthy nuts to snack on, do you think about pistachios? Well, in their typical salted, and sometimes flavoured form, they may not win any prizes in the health stakes. But natural, pure pistachios are actually nutrient, fiber and antioxidant-rich, and even have some unique properties that put them above other nuts when it comes to boosting our health. Here are five reasons to love pistachios as much as we do:
These little green-purple nuts are a true winner when it comes to heart health. And there are at least four reasons why!
We tend to think of vegetables and fruits as being our best source of antioxidants. But nuts certainly count too! As well as vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, pistachios are particularly high in the trace minerals manganese and copper1. Both are needed for our body to make a ‘master’ antioxidant that protects us against some of the most harmful free radicals.
And vitamins and minerals aren’t the only antioxidants in pistachios’ arsenal. They also contain a wealth of phytonutrients, naturally occurring compounds found in colourful, natural foods that act the same as antioxidants. These include: carotenoids2 like those found in orange vegetables, and catechins4 – the same potent antioxidants found in cacao and green tea.
What’s more, the vibrant green colour in pistachios comes from chlorophyll, which may also have antioxidant properties. Pistachios truly are antioxidant powerhouses!
Like other nuts and seeds, pistachios are a good source of fibre. Fibre helps with normal bowel movements and ‘feeding’ the good bacteria that live in the gut.
But pistachios may be particularly beneficial here. One research study found that eating pistachios increased numbers of beneficial bacteria in the gut that produce a substance called butyrate5. Butyrate is a fatty acid that acts as an energy source for the cells lining the large intestine, keeping them healthy. It’s also said to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in the gut6.
Pistachios are one of our best sources of vitamin B6 too. Not only is B6 vital for energy, immunity and the brain, it also plays a special role in balancing hormones. For women, getting enough vitamin B6 in their diet may help with a harmonious menstrual cycle and avoiding or relieving problems such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
Last but not least, pistachios could be the best nuts to munch on if you’re concerned about keeping your eyes healthy and your vision pin-sharp. Why? They have the highest content of lutein and zeaxanthin compared to all other nuts and seeds. These are carotenoids – yellow plant pigments – that collect in the retina of our eyes that have been found to help protect the eye against light damage7. They may even reduce risk of conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts that can lead to blindness7.
Pistachios contain around 1,200 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin per 100g, compared to just 23 micrograms for cashews and just 1 microgram for almonds1. In fact, one research article quotes up to 4,200 micrograms of lutein per 100g!4 While this can’t compete with the amounts we find in green leafy veg, such as kale, it’s still significant.
No doubt we can all agree that pistachios are powerhouses of nutrients, fibre and antioxidants. But what if we told you that you could get all of these incredible health benefits in the form of raw chocolate? Well now you can get your pistachio fix in our brand new, and absolutely scrumptious, Ombar Centres Pistachio flavour: an indulgent 60% dark chocolate bar with a creamy pistachio, truffley centre. Indulge yourself today!
1. Nutritiondata.self.com. SELF Nutrition Data | Food Facts, Information & Calorie Calculator. [online] Available at: http://nutritiondata.self.com [Accessed 31 Jul. 2018].
2. Dreher ML. Pistachio nuts: composition and potential health benefits. Nutr Rev. 2012 Apr;70(4):234-40.
3. MacWilliam, L. (2006). Gamma Tocopherol and Alpha Tocopherol - page 1 | Life Extension. [online] LifeExtension.com. Available at: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2006/4/report_gamma/Page-01 [Accessed 31 Jul. 2018].
4. Liu Y et al. Quantification and bioaccessibility of california pistachio bioactives. J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Feb 19;62(7):1550-6.
5. Ukhanova M et al. Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study. Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun 28;111(12):2146-52.
6. Canani RB et al. Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar 28;17(12):1519-28.
7. Koushan K et al. The role of lutein in eye-related disease. Nutrients. 2013 May 22;5(5):1823-39. doi: 10.3390/nu5051823.