Last time, we introduced the value of pistachios. Here are FIVE good reasons to snack on these little gems:
- A great source of vitamin B6. All B vitamins are ‘water soluble’, which means that they are easily washed out of your body, and you cannot store them. B6 is vital for helping to produce certain neurotransmitters that protect the brain and nervous system. Also, B6 helps combat depression and anxiety, increase your ability to break down and process fat cells, increase your energy levels, improve PMS, and help attention-deficit issues like ADD and ADHD. B6 is also one of the most important vitamins to lower homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is an inflammatory substance the body produces that is a leading indicator of heart disease, and high homocysteines indicate an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
- Improves Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels. While many of the other nut varieties have been well-studied for their health benefits, pistachios have been studied specifically for heart health and cholesterol-lowering benefits. This study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows a definite and significant reduction in the harmful LDL cholesterol with as little as one serving a day serving (a serving is 10% of total daily calories). LDL cholesterol was lowered by an impressive 9-12%. High LDL is a major risk factor for heart disease and is thought to result partly from increased triglycerides (which usually come from a high carbohydrate-high sugar diet). In addition, pistachios contain high levels of antioxidants, which also protect heart health and blood vessels.
- Diabetes Fighter—Eating pistachios has a beneficial effect on blood sugar, helping to keep blood sugar and insulin levels low, and helping to prevent diabetes. New research shows that people with prediabetes have a lower risk of developing diabetes if they eat pistachios on a regular basis. The test subjects ate 2 ounces of pistachios daily and had significant drops in both blood sugar and insulin levels. As an added benefit, subjects also found that their waist measurement decreases as well.
- Fat Burning. Pistachios are also high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, so they help control your cravings for a snack and keep you satisfied. In addition, they contain generous amounts of healthy monounsaturated fats, like the healthy fat in olive oil. This fat not only helps you feel satisfied, but it keeps blood sugar low, and when blood sugar stays low, you keep your body in the fat-burning mode, burning fat for energy instead of storing fat—which is what happens when you eat carbohydrates or sugary foods. What’s more, when you eat shelled pistachios, it takes a bit of work to crack those tasty little nuts open, so you tend to eat less.
- Other Benefits. Pistachios also contain generous amounts of the antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from diseases related to aging, including macular degeneration. And, pistachios are great for your gut health too. We all talk about “probiotics” but there are “prebiotics” also. These are healthy, fibrous foods that feed your healthy gut bacteria, and pistachios just happen to be one of those foods that feed your healthy gut bacteria and keep them happy! A study from University of Florida study showed that people who ate 3 oz of pistachios for 19 days, had improved levels of beneficial gut bacteria, and an increase in beneficial butyrates, which are substances formed from healthy gut bacteria that help heal the gut lining.
Need a snack? Pick up a bag of yummy, crunchy pistachios. Your body and your digestion will thank you!