Rich & Noble Pistachio
Pistachios date back eons - evidence from excavations shows that tribes in the Near East gathered them as far back as 20,000 BC.
Throughout history, pistachios were considered food suitable for the rich and noble. They were said to have been a favorite of the Queen of Sheba, and also thought to bring good luck to lovers, who would steal away to meet beneath pistachio trees.
This royal nut was brought from the Middle East to southern European countries like Italy and Greece for cultivation. In 1976, pistachios appeared commercially in California.
The Pistachio Tree
The pistachio tree is related to the cashew, mango and poison oak trees. Pistachio nuts grow in grape-like clusters and are covered with soft, reddish husks that are removed when they are processed. The nut shells begin to split as the pistachios mature. Pistachio kernels get their green color from chlorophyll, the same pigment found in leaves.
Pistachios Contain Healthy Fats
Pistachios are packed with healthy fats, protein fiber, and minerals. Pistachios are also rich in phytosterols, which appear to lower cholesterol levels and protect from certain types of cancer. Recent studies have found that pistachios may lower risk of type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugars, and reduce inflammatory markers (a known risk factor for heart disease.) The FDA allows a qualified health claim on food packages stating that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts (inlcuding pistachios) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce heart disease risk.
Pistachios can lower plasma lipids by 25 percent. They can also significantly decrease the glycemic index of foods eaten with them. So munch on a handful of nuts when you eat refined carbohydrates.
Splitting Pistachio Nuts
What do you do with a troublesome pistachio nut that won't split? Wedge one half of the shell from an already-opened pistachio into the split and twist it open. Pistachios draw moisture from the air, which causes them to lose their crunch, so store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The nutty crunch and lovely hue of pistachios blends beautifully in breads, side dishes, salads, entrees and desserts. Tuck them into your bag or briefcase for one of nature's most perfect snacks on the go.
1 ounce pistachio nuts, dry roasted, unsalted equals:
- Calories: 161
- Protein: 6 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 74milligrams
- Thiamin: .2 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: .4 millgrams
- Phosphorus: 137 milligrams
- Copper: .4 milligrams
- Manganese: .4 milligrams
Pistachios for Lower LDL?
Eating one ounce a day of pistachios significantly owers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University fed 28 men and women three heart-healthy diets for four weeks each; two of the diets included pistachios. They found that, as part of a heart-healthy diet, adding just one daily serving of pistachios (about 45 nuts) lowered LDLs by 9 percent, seven times more than expected based on the nuts' fatty acid content. Other compounds in pistachios, such as fiber and phytosterols, may contribute to the benefits.
- Packed with healthy fats, protein fiber, and minerals.
- Rich in phytosterols, which appear to lower cholesterol.
- May lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Nutty Banana Smoothie Recipe
1 banana, cut into pieces
1/4 cup pistachios
1 cup milk
1 cup natural yogurt
1/2 cup ice cubes
Blend all ingredients till creamy and serve immediately. Servings: 2 cups.
Variations: Use walnuts or cashew nuts in place of pistachios, if desired. You could also use a bit of all three, or a choice of two. Customize to your pleasure!
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