There are many positive effects and Healthy Benefits of Pistachios to adding pistachios to your diet. Pistachios are rich in nutrients, protein, and antioxidants. Pistachios can be an excellent source of fiber and unsaturated fats which may in turn contribute to overall good heart health.
However, if you have any underlying issues with your kidneys, pistachios may be something you want to avoid as pistachios tend to be high in both phosphorus and potassium content.
These two minerals are usually present in tree nuts and pistachio nuts are among them. Pistachios are often avoided by people with renal issues, kidney disease, or those whose kidneys just aren’t working properly.
What Are Pistachios?
Pistachios are called nuts, but in fact, botanically, pistachios are the seeds of the pistachio tree. We, as a civilization, have been eating these green, lightly sweet buttery “seeds” for thousands of years. The kernels can be found in shades of yellow, to green, and even purple shades with some red. The pistachio is usually about one inch in length and about half an inch in diameter.
The pistachio originated in mid Asia but they now can be found in the south-western United States in states like California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The pistachios grow in clusters or bunches. The hard covering around the kernel tends to split from one side without leaving off the green kernel. Pistachios are available in most grocery stores today and can be bought raw, shelled, roasted, and salted.
Is the Pistachio A Nut?
While commonly referred to as a nut, the pistachio is technically the seed of a drupe. A drupe is a fleshy tree fruit that contains a shell-covered seed. Some drupes you may know include peaches, cherries, apricots, mangos, walnuts, olives, and more.
These group of culinary tree nuts also include cashews, hazelnuts, chestnuts, coconuts and almonds. Because a pistachio is the seed of a drupe (which is a fleshy tree fruit), the pistachio is not a true botanical nut. Pistachios are treated as nuts when it comes to being classified as a tree nut allergen.
Are Pistachios a Good Source of Fiber?
Pistachios contain as much as 3 grams of fiber in one serving of about 28 grams (1 ounce). This fiber usually moves through your digestive system undigested. However, some types of fiber are considered prebiotics and are actually food for the good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut microbiome. Gut bacteria then ferment the fiber and convert it into short-chain fatty acids. Providing your gut with prebiotics will help your good bacteria to multiply and in turn help in moving the harmful bacteria out of your gut by crowding out the bad gut bacteria.
Are Pistachios a Good Source of Butyrate?
Butyrate, or butyric acid is a short chained fatty acid that’s created when your good gut bacteria break down dietary fiber. Increasing your dietary fiber or adding resistant starches into your diet is a good way to boost the amount of butyric acid in your gut. These gut bacteria will feed on the fiber and resistant starches your body doesn’t digest efficiently.
There’s only limited research on the subject of butyrate and there needs to be more studies to understand all the benefits of butyric acid. However some studies suggest that butyric acid may help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and may help reduce the risk of Colon Cancer.
One of the best ways to increase these short chained fatty acids in your system is to boost your intake of dietary fibers such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds (like pistachios).
Are Pistachios Nutritionally Dense?
Pistachios are very nutritionally dense and are also energy dense. They’re packed with plant based protein and will help fuel your body with essential amino acids. Pistachios are high in omega-three fatty acids and loaded with antioxidants which play a critical role in reducing your risk to cancer and other diseases. With protein, healthy omega fats, and fiber to start off the nutritional list, it’s easy to see that these little snacks are just packed full of everything you might need for the day, and then some.
Can Pistachios Help With Gut Inflammation?
The answer here is not so binary as yes or no. Pistachios can help inflamation in the gut because pistachios contain polyphenols. Polyphenols can also lower the risk of heart diseases by promoting anti-inflammatory properties. Still other studies have shown that pistachio consumption may not only alleviate inflammation in the gut but may also improve gut microbiota composition. That means there’s a more diverse community of probiotics in your microbiome. With that said, there’s a good amount of fiber in pistachios, and adding more fiber into one’s diet can cause problems for some.
Are There Any Bad Side Effects of Eating Pistachios?
As mentioned, fiber is a concern for those that may have issues with adding fiber into their diet. Discomfort, diarrhea, bloating and gas can sometimes be an issue for those with Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or some other intestinal issue. If you have a concern always consult your doctor before adding fiber to your diet. It’s possible to add fiber to your diet without including pistachios.
Another obvious side effect for pistachios is as an allergen. If you happen to be allergic to peanuts, you may want to hold off until you check with your doctor. Whether you call them drupes, nuts, legumes, or tree nuts, there may be a connection to an allergen that may trigger your allergic reaction if you are vulnerable. This can be a serious issue for some.
Although you can eat pistachios raw, they almost always come already roasted. While you can get pistachios unsalted, the majority of the time they will be already SALTED. People who need to keep an eye on their sodium level may find that these little snacks are something to watch. Salted snacks have a tendency to be eaten fast and in great quantities.
Can you eat too many Pistachios?
Another obvious bad side effect from my perspective, is overeating. Pistachios are delicious little portable snacks that are packed with protein and nutrients. If you’re NOT going to work off all those calories with exercise (694 calories in one cup), then its real easy to gain weight as you snack on pistachios throughout the day.
A nice trick is to simply buy pistachios in the shell and it may slow you down when eating them. You have to pry pistachio shells open to eat them and you can also see how many you’ve eaten by how many empty shells you already have. It lets you keep a mental note on how many are going down.