Menu Nutrition And You.com Blog Fruits Nuts and Seeds Contact About Us

Pistachio nutrition facts

Wonderfully delicious pistachio nuts have long been cherished as the symbol of wellness and robust health since ancient times. The kernels are enriched with many health-benefiting nutrients essential for the optimum health.

Pistachio is a tree nut obtained from fruits belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, of the genus: Pistacia. The plant is a medium-sized, broad, bushy, deciduous tree, believed to have originated in the mountain ranges of West-Asia and Turkey region (Anatolia). Male and female trees (dioecious) grow separately. Several cultivars exist; however, the most popular variety grown for the commercial purposes is Kerman cultivar which is one of the tastiest and best quality pistachios coming from the Kerman region of Iran.

pistachios
Delicious Pistachio nuts!

Pistachios grow well under hot, dry summer and cool winters. They are currently being cultivated on a larger scale in the USA, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and China. After plantation, it takes approximately eight to ten years until the plant produces its first major crop. Once established, it keeps bearing fruits for many years to come.

pistachio
Pistachio-bunch.
(Photo by bradspry)

During each season, the tree bears heavy clusters of fruits which appear somewhat like that of a grape bunch. Pista fruit, in fact, is a drupe (fruit with a large, central located single seed), and it is this seed kernel what actually a sought-after, "pistachio." On its exterior, a mature fruit features hard, an off-white color shell which splits open exposing a light green, oblong shape kernel inside. A pista kernel measures about 2 cm in length and 1 cm width and weighs about 0.7-1 gm.

Health benefits of Pistachios

  • Pistachios are delicious tree nuts recognized for their wholesome nutritional properties. Together with walnuts, almonds, and cashew, they offer good sources of protein, fats, and minerals to inhabitants living around otherwise dry and arid regions of Central, West and South Asia.

  • Pistachios are a rich source of energy; 100 g of kernels carry 557 calories. Additionally, they compose proper amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and antioxidants. Regular consumption of pistachios in the diet may help lowering total as well as bad LDL-cholesterol and increase good HDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet which is rich in dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants can help reduce coronary artery disease and stroke risk by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

  • Pista kernels are rich source of many antioxidant phytochemical substances such as carotenes, vitamin-E, and polyphenolic antioxidant compounds. Research studies suggest that these compounds may help remove toxic free-radicals from the human body, and thus, protect it from diseases, cancers, and infections.

  • Pistachios are excellent sources of vitamin-E; especially rich in γ-tocopherol; compose about 23 g per100 g. vitamin-E is a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant essential for maintaining the integrity of mucosa and skin. Also, vitamin-E works as scavengers of harmful free-oxygen radicals.

  • The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.

  • They are the storehouse of minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. 100 g nuts provide 144% of daily recommended levels of copper. Copper is an essential trace mineral that is required in neurotransmission, metabolism, as well as red blood cell (RBC) production.

  • Pistachio oil extracted from kernels is one of the healthiest cooking oils. It has a pleasant nutty aroma and possesses excellent emollient properties. It helps keep skin well protected from dryness. Besides been used in the kitchen, it is also employed as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in massage therapy, aromatherapy, in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Just a hand full of pistachios a day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients: Pistachio (Pistacia vera), Nutritional value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 557 Kcal 29%
Carbohydrates 27.97 g 21.5%
Protein 20.60 g 37%
Total Fat 44.44 g 148%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 10.3g 27%
Vitamins
Folates 51 µg 13%
Niacin 1.3 mg 8%
Pantothenic acid 0.520 mg 10%
Pyridoxine 1.7 mg 131%
Riboflavin 0.160 mg 12%
Thiamin 0.870 mg 72.5%
Vitamin A 553 IU 18%
Vitamin C 5 mg 8%
Vitamin E-? 22.60 mg 150%
Electrolytes
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 1025 mg 22%
Minerals
Calcium 107 mg 11%
Copper 1.3 mg 144%
Iron 4.15 mg 52%
Magnesium 121 mg 30%
Manganese 1.2 mg 52%
Phosphorus 376 mg 54%
Selenium 7 µg 13%
Zinc 2.20 mg 20%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß 332 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg --

Selection and storage

pistachios
Roasted pistachio nuts

Pistachios can be available in the markets year around. In the grocery stores, one may choose shelled, whole (with-shell), roasted, salted, sweetened, etc., put for sale. Try to buy unshelled (with intact outer coat), whole nuts instead of processed ones. They generally made available in airtight packs and bulk bins.

Look for healthy, compact, uniform, off-white, unshelled nuts that feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks other than the natural split, mold, spots, and of rancid smell.

Raw, unshelled pistachios can be placed in a cool, dry place for many months. However, shelled kernels should be placed in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator in order to prevent them turn rancid.


Culinary uses

Pistachio pavlova with kiwi slices
Pistachio pavlova with kiwi slices. Photo courtesy: Vegan feast catering.
  • The nuts are usually eaten as they are, by splitting them open between fingers or using a nutcracker machine. They can also be enjoyed roasted, salted, or sweetened, just as in macadamia and peanuts.

  • Pistachios are nutty, yet pleasantly sweet in taste with a fruity aroma. Baklava, a sweet pastry made of layers of paper-thin "phyllo or strudel dough" filled with chopped pistachio, almonds, and cashew nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey, is a popular pastry preparation in Turkey, Iran, Armenia, and many Middle East states.

  • Roasted and crushed, its kernels can be sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based dessert preparations (for example, kulfi in the Indian subcontinent), biscuits, sweets and cakes.

  • Split pistachios are a great addition to vegetable/fruit salads.

  • Popularly known as "pista," these nuts have been widely used in sweet dishes in Indian, Pakistani and other South-East Asian countries.


Safety profile

Pistachio nut allergy sometimes occurs as allergic manifestations because of the chemical compound anacardic acid (urushiol. Cross-reactions may also occur with some other related tree nuts and fruits of Anacardiaceae family such as mango, cashew nuts, etc. Persons with known allergic reactions to these nuts may, therefore, require to observe caution while eating cashews and mango, and conversely.

The reaction symptoms may range from simple skin itching (hives) to severe form anaphylactic manifestations including breathing difficulty, pain abdomen, vomiting, and diarrhea. (Medical disclaimer).



<<-Back to Nuts nutrition from Pistachio nuts. Visit here for an impressive list of nuts with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Peanut oil-Nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home page.


Further Resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.

3. Agricultural Research Service- PDF.


≺ Prev Next ≻