Pistachios sprinkled over cupcakes or pistachio-flavored ice cream may make this nut the trendy dessert ingredient of the moment, but the little, colorful and uniquely tasty pistachio has a larger place at the table than merely fodder for interesting dessert. Nutrient dense and delicious, here are nine reasons a handful of pistachios make for a wonderful snack-time indulgence.
1. Heart Health: A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that a daily dose of pistachios can benefit cardiovascular health when a group of people with moderately high cholesterol levels consumed 15% of their calories from pistachios and found an improvement in blood lipid levels in just one month.
2. Healthy Fats: Even though the fats in nuts are generally considered as the healthy kind, a serving of pistachios (about 50 nuts) contains only 160 calories, making them one of the lowest calorie snack nuts.
3. Fiber: Pistachios are packed with dietary fiber, in face, even more than oatmeal!
4. Carotenoids: Who needs carrots when you can have pistachios? They contain significant amounts of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which have been linked to a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to blindess as we age.
5. Phytosterols: Pistachios are also rich in plant sterols which may lower the absorption of dietary cholesterol from other foods. Maybe this is why they are added to creamy desserts...
6. Protein: Take heed vegetarians and vegans and health-conscious protein consumers; pistachios are an excellent source of vegetable protein.
7. Antioxidants: Pistachios contain phenolic compounds, which are believed to account for the antioxidant capability of certain foods, and are linked to preserving the body from oxidative stress that can lead to cancer, heart disease and age-related disease.
8. Nutrition: Pistachios are a good source of copper, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and B6. The nuts deliver 30 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, so that little shell is protecting quite a dosage of nut power.
9. Delicious: Probably most important, pistachios are quite delicious and taste like no other food. Once the food of royalty, consider adding pistachios to yogurts, salad or oatmeal. But the best way to enjoy this scrumptious snack is straight out of its shell, handful at a time. Make sure you buy organic, or even raw, pistachios to garner the most health benefits, too.