These stunning-looking green-coloured pistachio nuts are delicious, fun to eat, and highly nutritious. In reality, these nuts are the edible seeds of the Pistacia vera tree that are rich in healthy fats and are a good source of protein, fibre and antioxidants. They are also a powerhouse of other essential nutrients and can help in weight management and heart and gut health. Read on to know more about the health benefits of pistachio.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr. Nirupama Rao, Nutritionist, Rejua Energy Centre, Mumbai, to learn the health benefits of pistachio and its possible side effects if you eat too many.
Health benefits of pistachio
The various health benefits of consuming pistachio or pista are:
1. Heart health
“Pistachios are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats that can aid in lowering bad cholesterol levels. They also contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which support overall cardiovascular health,” says the expert.
2. Diabetes management
Pistachios have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. The fibre and protein content can also help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.
3. Eye health
The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin found in pistachios are beneficial for eye health. They may curb the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
4. Digestive health
Pistachios are a good source of dietary fibre, which aids in digestion and helps prevents constipation.
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Pistachios are packed with essential nutrients such as vitamin B6, thiamine, and phosphorus. They also contain minerals such as magnesium and potassium, which are important for various bodily functions.
6. Antioxidant properties
These nuts are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress in the body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting overall well-being.
What happens if you eat too many pistachios?
Overeating pistachios can have some potential side effects, despite their health benefits. Here are a few concerns one needs to be aware of:
1. Weight gain
“Pistachios are calorie-dense, and consuming them in excess can lead to weight gain. A single cup of pistachios contains over 700 calories, so portion control is crucial, especially if you’re watching your calorie intake,” suggests Dr Rao.
2. Digestive issues
Eating too many pistachios at once can overwhelm your digestive system. Their high fibre content may cause digestive discomfort, including bloating, gas, and diarrhoea.
3. High sodium intake
As per Dr Rao, “Many commercially available pistachios are salted, which can contribute to excessive sodium intake if consumed in large quantities. High sodium intake may lead to hypertension and other health issues”.
4. Oxalate content
Pistachios contain oxalates, compounds that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. Consuming too many pistachios may increase the risk of kidney stone development.
So, if you are asking “How many pistachios a day is too much?”, it is important to consume them in moderation as they are calorie-dense. A typical serving size is about 25 grams or a small handful. Incorporating pistachios into a balanced diet can be a delicious way to improve your health.