Pistachios Are a Heart-Healthy Snack

It may seem counterintuitive that nuts, high in fat, are a heart-healthy food. But, they actually lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which can lead to buildups of plaque in your arteries. They lower inflammation, lower the risk of blood clots and aid artery health.  

With omega-3s, fiber and unsaturated fats, they are a powerful source of things to aid heart health. They also boast high protein and fiber levels that keep you full and help you lose weight while feeling energetic.

In the past, we’ve written about both almonds and walnuts. Today, we’re focusing on another of our favorites: the pistachio.  

We want to start off with two warnings any person who frequently reads our blogs is already familiar with. The first is that, while nuts are healthy, they are high in calories. While we love suggesting good things to add to your diet, we aren’t suggesting you start loading up on them on top of your regular diet. You should work them in in place of other, less healthy things you might normally eat. Suddenly adding a whole bunch of extra calories to your day can upset your health goals.

The second warning is that you should always read labels. Nuts are healthy and delicious. However, some brands cover them in oils, salts, sugar and other things you don’t want. We like getting plain roasted and then seasoning them ourselves. In part, that cuts down on the salt, but it also lets us play with the flavor profile. One person loves nuts served with the same spice mix she uses for roasting chicken! It’s not just healthier, it also lets you tailor them to your preferences! Some people on our team like buying them in bulk from Costco, freezing them and then roasting small batches in the oven when they want them. That way, they are less expensive.

Pistachios are lower in both calories and fat than other nuts. An ounce of pistachios has 162 calories and 13 grams of fat. A small, but controlled, study of 28 people showed that eating pistachios daily reduced LDL cholesterol by 10 percent! They ate about a fifth of their daily calories in the form of pistachio nuts, which is a lot. Still, it is worth bringing up with your doctor if you are concerned about your cholesterol levels.  

Other studies have found that pistachios are the best nuts for lowering blood pressure, which is another critical component to heart health. They are also rich in nutrients that promote blood flow and carry oxygen through the bloodstream

One of the things we like most about pistachios is the shell. It’s tempting to buy them shelled. However, adding that extra step slows you down and helps you not overeat. You’ll get full as you shell them and won’t just eat them by the handful like other nuts. Their shells also help you track a serving. A serving is roughly 49 pistachios.

They’ll take a little longer to eat because you’ll have to pry open the shells,” said Laura Jeffers, a registered dietician. “The shells also are a great visual reminder of how many you’ve eaten. This can help to keep you on track with portion size.”

So, the next time you’re in the snack aisle and interested in some healthy nuts, reach for the pistachios. It’s nice to branch out from our usual choices, and your heart will thank you!
August 26, 2020
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