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Saturday, March 1, 2014

NUTRITIONAL FACTS & HEALTH BENEFITS OF PISTACHIOS

Pistachio is from Western Asia but it is mostly also available in the Mediterranean region. The hot dry conditions of Middle East have not prevented it from reaping some of the best fruits in terms of taste and health. One such example is pistachio: a popular nut based dry fruit which has got some good share of spotlight these days. The reason for recent popularity of this nut is the long list of essential nutrients it has along with the taste criteria upon which the nut works out very well.

Nuts to the Health!!!

When the health quotient became so important for the urban population, nuts were discouraged for the high fat and oil content. However, several researches eventually proved that nuts are needed for the much needed healthy fatty acids and nutrient pool of vitamins, proteins etc. Pistachio is no exception here and in fact has a larger pool of nutritious elements. It has also faced a lot of myths such as generating excessive body heat, containing an excessive amount of fat and was taken as a solution to gain weight. Thorough research and a deep coverage and verification of pistachio has revealed a totally different nutrient list which not only makes it a one-for-many benefit snack but also gives it a status of a luxurious health snack.

Nutritional facts of Pistachios

Nutrient                                      Value (per 100gm Pistachios) 

Calories                                            567 kcal 
Protein                                           20.95 g 
Total lipid (fat)                              44.82 g 
Carbohydrate, by difference        29.38 g 
Fiber, total dietary                       9.9 g 
Sugars, total                                 7.74 g 

Minerals 

Calcium, Ca                                   107 mg 
Iron, Fe                                         4.03 mg 
Magnesium, Mg                           109 mg 
Phosphorus, P                              469 mg 
Potassium, K                                1007 mg 
Sodium, Na                                   6 mg 
Zinc, Zn                                          2.34 mg 

Vitamins 
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid     3.0 mg 
Thiamin                                         0.695 mg 
Riboflavin                                      0.234 mg 
Niacin                                            1.373 mg 
Vitamin B-6                                  1.122 mg 
Folate, DFE                                  51 µg 
Vitamin A, RAE                           13 µg 
Vitamin A, IU                              259 IU 
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)    2.42 mg 
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)          13.2 µg 

Fatty Acids
Total saturated                            5.456 g 
Total monounsaturated              23.676 g 
Total polyunsaturated                13.448 g 

Taking on the pistachio nutrition facts, 49 nuts of pistachio (approximately 28.35g ) contain more vitamin B6 than two wedges of watermelon. It has higher potassium content than banana and more lutein and zeaxathanin than a glass of orange juice. This arid nut compensates for almost all the other nutritive fruits and vegetables that cannot be grown in there.

How to Select and Store Pistachios?

Pistachios are available in many different forms such as unshelled, shelled, salted, roasted, etc. It’s is always advisable to settle on raw, shelled pistachios rather than processed and salted ones as they lose large nutritious values while processing.

Also make sure not to pick the pistachios having some cracks other than the natural cleave or having rancid smell.

Stock up the shelled pistachios in a sealed, airtight container and unshelled in a cool, dry place. You can also freeze or refrigerate pistachios for almost one year.

Some useful tips

-Pistachios can be included in your diet in many ways. 
-You can eat them in the raw form or get them roasted before eating for added taste.
-Adding pistachios in brown rice and herbs is also a great way to supplement its intake.
-Moreover, it also tastes delicious when served with fruits.
-You can also add pistachios in cookies, muffins, breads or biscuits.
-Sprinkling chopped pistachios onto ice-cream is also a great option.
-Add it in cream cheese spreads for sandwiches or crackers.
-Pistachio can also be a crunchy addition to regular salads and yogurt etc.

Nut Power: Health Benefits of Pistachios!!

Boosts Immunity

Vitamin B6 is very important for a healthy immune system, the production of red and white blood cells, White blood cells increase body’s immunity and act as defense force of a human body. These are produced in the lymph nodes (spread all over the body) and are kept clean and working by vitamin B6.. In fact, a deficiency of Vitamin B6 lowers the body's ability to fight infections.

Power up the Heart

Pistachios are enriched with mono and polysaturated fatty acids which are known as nature’s way of controlling cholesterol levels and maintaining heart’s health. Pistachios are also known to increase High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)(good cholesterol) which are quite known to increase heart’s strength.And reduce bad cholesterol, LDL. This, in turn, helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.It also increases strength of the nerves making heart stronger.

Check on internal Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural reaction of our body shown to injuries or diseases. It is one of the responses of the immune system and can even be sparked due to protein imbalances.  Pistachios contain Vitamin A, vitamin E which, along with some minor anti-inflammatory properties reducing the inflammation in the body caused due to any problems.

Fights Obesity

To eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories and avoid fatty foods – is the best approach to reduce obesity.

The nut is rich in fibre which makes you feel fuller, without adding too many calories. This in turn makes you eat less. A single serve of 30 pistachios, enough to fill a stomach for two hours, contains only 100 calories.  

Reducing Cancer Risk

Containing a good share of antioxidants and Vitamin E, pistachios stand as an effective cancer risk reducer. A recent report by the Government of Turkey says pistachios contain an anti-oxidant named “resveratrol” which is known to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and various cardiovascular diseases.

Beneficial for Diabetics

Pistachios contain a good amount of phosphorus — about 60% of the daily recommendation, which can prevent even type-2 diabetes. Also phosphorous in pistachios helps in breaking down proteins into amino acids resulting in glucose tolerance. Therefore, diabetic individuals can benefit by eating a handful of this dry fruit.

Helps in production of Haemoglobin

Vitamin B6 is the protein that helps in carrying oxygen in the blood.Pistachios are a great source of Vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of haemoglobin, which, in turn, supplies oxygen to the cells, also increasing the amount of oxygen supplied. This apparently would boost the working of internal organs, including the brain.

Great for your Eyes

Pistachios are rich in carotenoids which get converted to Vitamin A after being processed. These carotenoids offer protection in the form of antioxidants that curb damage from free radicals. Also, pistachios have been linked to lowering the risk of developing macular degeneration. Vitamin A increases eyes’ ability to focus and hence are needed, especially when someone works in front of a computer or lives in polluted environment which may harm the eyes. It also resists the natural ageing processes which affect the eyesight of the human eye.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is an age related eye disease which slowly reduces the eye vision making adults unable to read and work properly. It makes them unable to recognize people as well. Free radicals attack the cells and damage them resulting in macular degeneration. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two anti-oxidants that are found in Pistachios which fight against these free radicals and destroy them preventing the cells from damage and thus preventing macular degeneration.

Muscle Movement

Pistachios contain potassium which, in association with sodium, plays an essential role in muscular movements. Flexibility in muscular movements benefits a lot to athletes and sportsmen. Regular diet of Pistachio would not only enhance their muscular movements but will also strengthen other body organs.

Nervous system

Vitamin B6 is present in high concentration in pistachios which is very beneficial to nervous system. Amines are the messaging molecules in the nervous system. In order to develop, they need amino acids which are dependent on vitamin B6 presence in the body. This vitamin builds a sheath called myelin around the nerve fibers. And messages pass via Nerve fibers from one nerve to another. Vitamin B6 helps in building many amino acids which help in proper transmission of nerve impulses.

Taste Bonanza!!!

Pistachios are famous type of dry fruit and are sold in air tight packets in an open and serve manner. Apart from that, pistachios are also part of many sweet dishes and puddings. There are pistachio based cakes, ice creams, cold milk shakes and several other delicious foods. Here, pistachio works as a flavoring agent too. Many types of nutritional/health oriented candy bars have pistachio as one of their prime ingredients.

Pistachios’ Hair Benefits

Fights Hair Loss

Biotin deficiency is among the key factors contributing to hair loss. Pistachios contain considerable amount of biotin and their regular consumption may help you combat hair-loss effectively.

Stimulates Hair Growth

Thanks to being the host of various hair benefiting fatty acids, pistachios stimulate the growth of healthy strands.

Makes Hair Strong

It is also an excellent treatment for strengthening the locks.

Increases Flexibility Of Hair

A hair mask using pistachios deeply nourishes and moisturizes your hair while improving the flexibility of hair fibers. In addition, it is also a great remedy for treating split ends, dehydrated and colour damaged hair.

Benefits of Pistachio for Skin Care

Natural Moisturizer

Pistachio oil is an excellent natural moisturizer. It happens to be naturally infused with demulcent properties which tend to have highly hydrating and smoothening effects on the skin. You can consider substituting your regular moisturizer with Pistachio oil in order to get that smooth and silky skin.

Natural Glow of Skin

Pistachios contain a considerable amount of essential fatty acids which are vital for maintaining a healthy, glowing complexion. Including green apples in your routine diet help you ensure a robust, radiant skin all the time.

Enrich your skin with properties of Vitamin E present in pistachios, Vitamin E content protects the skin from being exposed to ultra violet rays. It is also known to keep the skin smooth, free from effects of dryness, ageing and pigmentation. Since pistachio contain sufficient amounts of vitamin E, your skin would be rejoicing and giving a healthy glow if you are a regular pistachio snacker.

Anti-ageing

Vitamin E present in pistachios is helps fight ageing process of skin and making you look younger. Oil present in this nut has emollient properties helping skin to moisturize and keep it from drying. It is used as aroma oil, medicinal massage oil etc.

Side Effects of Pistachio Nuts

Although pistachio nuts are relatively healthful, eating too many could have side effects on your weight, blood pressure and gastrointestinal tract.

Weight Gain
Eating too much of anything is never good, and the side effects usually include a higher fat percentage and larger waist circumference.

The high protein and fiber content makes pistachio nuts a satisfying and convenient snack for many people. However, if you go nuts when eating pistachios and eat a handful at a time, you could gain weight. 

Blood Pressure
Natural pistachio nuts have very low levels of sodium, or about 0 to 2 mg per 30 gm. serving. However, roasted pistachios seasoned with salt can contain up to 121 mg of sodium per serving, Eating 1/2 cup to 1 cup of salted pistachio nuts could increase your sodium intake by 263 to 526 mg, increasing your blood pressure as a side effect. 

Gastrointestinal Problems
Pistachio nuts can have gastrointestinal side effects in some people who react to a compound called fructans. Fructans are not dangerous, but they can bother the digestive system, leading to bloating, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence and abdominal pain. The degree of your gastrointestinal symptoms, if you are intolerant to fructans, will depend on the amount of pistachios you consumed. The more nuts, the worse your symptoms can be.

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