Nature’s bounty includes a variety of exotic nuts that have rewarded the taste buds of humans across the ages. Pistachios have been one of the most sought after and popular tree nuts across all geographical locations, offering a mix of taste, aroma and health benefits that make it unique. A powerhouse containing protein, antioxidants and fiber, pistachios occupy pride of place in tables across the world. Here is a detailed profiling, and compilation of pistachio benefits and side effects and the reasons that make it irresistible. By virtue of the taste and health benefits, there is a possibility of excessive intake and it is necessary to learn all about possible adverse effects.

Documented benefits of pistachios

Among the various known benefits of pistachios, many are documented, while others are possibly anecdotal in nature. Here is a look at the documented effects of pistachios, that make it a must have in homes.

# Abundant in nutrients

Pistachios offer an abundant supply of nutrients and studies have clearly demonstrated the benefits. For instance, one ounce of pistachios is known to contain 150 calories, a little more than 5 grams of proteins, around 12 grams of fat, and 3 grams of fiber. In addition to the above, pistachios also contain around 7 grams of carbohydrates, thiamine, vitamins, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and sugar. All the essential nutrients present in pistachios play a very important role in delivering nutrition to the body.

# Rich source of antioxidants

One of the reasons for the popularity of pistachios is the rich supply of antioxidants that the nuts deliver. This helps individuals cope with certain conditions or prevent the onset of certain health complications to an extent. Pistachios are known to have y-tocopherol, xanthophyll carotenoids and phytosterols in levels that are significantly higher than those of other nut varieties. Antioxidants are known to reduce the  risk of cancer and other ailments due to cell damage. The anti-inflammatory effect of antioxidants helps prevent or delay the onset various age-related conditions, and this makes the nut highly beneficial.

# Beneficial for vision

Pistachios are known to help improve vision and eye health and this is attributed to the antioxidants in the nuts. Specifically, two types of antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin are vital in helping prevent or delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration. Additionally, the antioxidants present in the nuts also help prevent the formation of cataracts in the eye. A diet that comprises the right quantity of pistachios is recommended by specialists for better eye health, especially among the elderly population.

# Fiber in pistachios

The high amount of fiber in pistachios helps improve gut health significantly.  Digestive health and motility are linked to fiber intake and pistachios help in delivering the required amount of fiber to the body. In addition to preventing constipation, pistachios contain prebiotics that are beneficial to the good bacteria, which in turn helps overcome the effects of bad bacteria present in the gut.

# Reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure

Documented results of studies have indicated that pistachios help individuals reduce cholesterol levels, delivering a positive impact on cardiovascular health. I tis also known to help bring down blood pressure levels to a certain extent. The benefits of pistachios are particularly impressive on persons without diabetes, impacting systolic pressure as well as diastolic pressure.

# Desirable outcomes in weight management

The tree nuts are also known to have a positive impact on weight management programs. Individuals desirous of either losing weight or maintaining weight typically find pistachios effective due to the protein content, the amount of fiber in pistachios and the calorific value. Studies conducted on participants have reportedly demonstrated that pistachios help reduce body mass index significantly.

# Rich in proteins

Proteins comprise as much as one-fifth of the total weight of each nut, making pistachios one of the most abundant source of proteins among nuts. This is especially a good choice for vegetarians in search of a good source of proteins to include in diets. The combination of important amino acids and fiber in the nuts makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians.

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Possible adverse effects of pistachios

 

Pistachio benefits and side effects are well documented, with adequate science backed claims and anecdotal evidence to support the benefits and the adverse effects. The most common reason for possible side effects is excessive consumption. Here is a look at some of the outcomes that may be experienced due to excessive intake of the nuts. Before we list out the effects, it is necessary to add a disclaimer here – side effects of any food product or medication or supplement may not necessarily affect everyone. To put it differently, some users may experience some outcomes, whereas others may not experience any effects at all. The intensity of the effects, and the duration of the effects differ from person to person.

 

#1 Possible weight gain from excessive intake of pistachios

One cup of pistachios can deliver as much as 700 calories. It is therefore necessary to watch the quantity of pistachios consumed per day. This is especially true for individuals who are on a weight gain program.

 

#2 High amount of fiber in pistachios

Certain products deliver benefits due to the nutrition profile, ingredients or mechanism of action. However, it is often the same reason for certain unwanted effects. For instance, pistachios are known for the fiber content and various benefits are attributed to the fiber content. However, excessive intake of fiber can also have undesirable effects, including irritable bowel syndrome, apart from malabsorption. Individuals who consume excessive fiber are known to experience pain or cramps in the stomach.

 

#3 Possible acrylamide accumulation from high temperature preparation

One of the specialties of tree nuts is the roasted method of preparation that gives it a unique taste. The aroma and special taste associated with roasted pistachios needs no introduction. However, this could result in a possible intake of acrylamide that could cause health issues. For instance, acrylamides are known to facilitate the growth of cancer-causing cells. High temperature cooking or preparation processes, including roasting and frying is responsible for the acrylamides that are essentially formed as a result of the sugars and amino acid naturally present in the food.

 

#4 Salmonella infection from pistachios are a possibility

Reports in the past have identified salmonella poisoning from pistachios and this is probably one of the reasons for the nuts to be preferred roasted. However, as mentioned above, there is a possibility of acrylamides accumulation and it is essential to intake limited amount of the roasted variety.

 

#5 Possibility of indigestion

There is a clear possibility of indigestion from pistachios, due to the high number of calories in the nuts. When the nuts are combined with other food products or ingredients, there is a possibility of individuals ending up with a bloated feeling. This could also result in some form of indigestion that may impact routine activities.

 

#6 Allergies

A small section of individuals are at possible risk of experiencing allergies as a result of an ingredient in pistachios. For instance, Fructans, a polymer of fructose molecules, is present in pistachios and this could trigger allergies in certain individuals. The extent of allergies may differ from person to person and in certain rare instances is known to result in hospitalization. It is therefore necessary for individuals with known allergies to fructans to avoid the nuts.

 

#7 Increased levels of blood pressure due to roasting

Pistachios are usually roasted, and the salted, roasted varieties can actually elevate blood pressure levels significantly. Individuals with high blood pressure or borderline blood pressure levels are advised to either avoid the nuts, or reduce intake, or choose non-roasted varieties.

 

#8 Impact of potassium on patients with renal ailments

Pistachios are relatively harmless on the kidneys of healthy individuals but may have an adverse impact on individuals with renal ailments. The potassium in pistachios delivers important benefits, but impaired kidney functions will affect potassium removal from the body. This inability to remove potassium and presence of methionine, oxalates may result in formation of kidney stones.

 

#9 Impact on pregnant women

The high manganese content in pistachios may have an undesirable outcome on individuals who consume excessive quantities. Pregnant women and nursing mothers may experience undesirable effects such as hallucinations, throbbing headaches and crams in the legs. Depending on the excess manganese levels in the body, the individual may also sometimes exhibit neurological changes.

 

Misconceptions that have affected the popularity

 

While the benefits and possible adverse effects are known to users, there are certain misconceptions that have affected the popularity of pistachios. These myths and assumptions are unsubstantiated claims, that have prevented individuals from enjoying the benefits of the tree nut. For instance, individuals assume pistachios to be high in sodium content and that could affect health. However, it is an erroneous assumption as pistachios are not high in sodium content, but the manner of preparation makes salted pistachios high in sodium. Choosing pistachios that are not salted will help keep sodium levels low.

 

Similarly, there are theories and claims that pistachios cause increase in weight. However, the increase in weight attributed to pistachios is not by merely eating pistachios, but is actually the effect of excessive intake. When taken in the right quantities, or in moderation, pistachios are an effective choice for weight management and weight loss programs. Finally, pistachios are often wrongly labelled as an appetite killer. This actually depends on the quantity of pistachios consumed, and not the consumption of the tree nuts in the right quantities.

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