A member of the cashew family, the pistachio has numerous health benefits. Often consumed as a snack, pistachios are effective in curbing heart disease and lowering cholesterol. Pistachio health benefits include serving as a source of more than 30 vitamins and minerals. In addition, the low-calorie nut promotes eye health and may help eaters avoid diabetes.
Consuming these nuts can assist in lowering cholesterol and hardening of the arteries, which considerably reduces the risk for heart disease. During a United States study conducted by Penn State University, volunteers who added pistachios to their low-fat diet lowered their cholesterol levels more compared with those who did not consume the nuts. Part of the reason for this is that pistachios contain a substance called lutein. Lutein is also found in green vegetables and associated with preventing cholesterol from forming in the arteries.
Pistachio health benefits also include providing a rich source of fiber. One cup (123 grams) of pistachios has more than 50 percent of a person’s recommended daily allowance of fiber. Fiber not only helps to reduce cardiovascular diseases by lowering the amount of cholesterol in the blood, but also promotes good gastrointestinal health.
In addition, pistachios can help prevent other diseases. Pistachios are rich in antioxidants, which are instrumental in combating the formation of destructive molecules called free radicals. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are found in pistachios. These antioxidants can help to prevent macular degeneration, one of the primary causes of blindness in adults.
Other pistachio health benefits include contributing as a rich source for copper, vitamin B6, and manganese. One cup (123 grams) of pistachios provides more than 80 percent of the recommended daily value of copper, a vital component found in enzymes. The same amount of pistachios also provides approximately 80 percent of the recommended value of vitamin B6, which assists in the creation of red blood cells. More than 50 percent of the recommended daily value of the mineral manganese can also be found in a serving of pistachios. Manganese helps to metabolize fat and carbohydrates.
Consumption of pistachios may also help to prevent Type 2 diabetes. A cup (123 grams) of pistachios contains 60 percent of the recommended daily value of the mineral phosphorous. In addition to breaking down proteins into amino acids, phosphorous promotes glucose tolerance. Pistachio health benefits also include serving as a way to control weight. One ounce (28 grams) of pistachios contains just 160 calories.