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Pistachio or pista: Why this ‘skinny nut’ makes for a nutritious addition to your diet

That nuts are a great source of protein, good fats, fibres, vitamins, and minerals is a well-known fact. But did you know that pistachios or pista rank a little higher than other nuts? Yes, according to lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho, while every nut is “irreplaceable and has something unique to offer in terms of health”, pistachios check all the boxes when it comes to “nutrition and taste”.  He added that while Iranians call pistachios ‘smiling nuts’, Chinese call them ‘happy nuts’, and the wellness world calls them ‘skinny nuts’ because they are so. But what makes these shelled nuts a powerhouse of nutrients? “The healthy fats in pistachios help to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle, further lowering the risk of stroke and many other heart problems. In addition, pista is known to increase the body’s defenses against internal and external free radicals, enhance digestion, and generally improve health,” Dr Jinal Patel, dietitian, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Mumbai, told

Further, these nuts rank the “lowest in calories per serving, meaning you can eat more of them for fewer calories… Just 30 of these, which is about 100 quality calories, make a perfect portion,” Luke further wrote on Instagram.


He listed the following benefits of munching on pistachios:

Complete, clean source of plant protein: Pistachios are a complete source of protein, which means they contains all 9-essential amino acids in adequate amounts. Gram-for-gram pistachios have as much protein as an egg.

Lowest in calories: Pistachios are some of the lowest-calorie nuts at a mere 100 calories in a single serving, equivalent to 30 pistachios. “You can thus eat more for fewer calories. (30 pistachios is a perfect serving),” he said.

Satiating and minimally processed: Besides protein, they are abundant in fiber and fat (heart-healthy MUFAs), making them very satiating. The protein-fat-fiber combo makes pistachios a great partner in your weight loss journey. “Just 30 of these keep you feeling fuller for longer because of the super protein-fat-fiber combo, so no mindless snacking,” he added.

Dr Patel too affirmed that fiber, which is abundant in these nuts and helps move food through the gut and avoid constipation, promotes a healthy digestive tract.

Rich in antioxidants: Do you know why pistachios are colourful? It is the only nut that contains anthocyanins, a plant pigment that gives pistachios a purple colour. It is the same pigment present in blueberries.

“Purple colour means antioxidants and green means chlorophyll. This is everything you require for your immune system, gut microbiome, diversity to your food…and so much more,” he said.

Agreed Dr Patel and said, “Antioxidants are chemicals that are important for maintaining good health. By avoiding cell damage, they lower the chance of developing cancer and other illnesses. Several antioxidant substances are present in nuts and seeds, however, pistachios may contain more of certain of these substances than other nuts.”

Boosts eye health: Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in pistachios boost eye health and prevent or manage age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, poor vision, and other eye-related concerns.

Promotes better sleep: Research has found that pistachios are one of the most melatonin-dense plant foods. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer hormone and helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. (circadian rhythm). “If you’re used to snacking at night or feel hungry, a handful of pistachios may help you sleep better,” he added.

No chance of overeating them: Deshelling pistachios automatically help you eat them slowly. This offers a great mindful eating experience and prevents overeating.

“Pistachios are a boon to your health. Use them well. Before you start scarfing down pistachios, remember a single food alone will not improve your sleep, boost your eye health, help you lose weight, or build muscle. An overall balanced lifestyle is what matters,” he said.

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