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Pistachios 101: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pistachios

Monday, August 18, 2014

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Pistachios – we love them, we eat them and we know that they’re healthy. But, unbeknownst to many, pistachios are so much more than just an incredibly delicious and healthy snack. Read on to discover 10 things you probably didn’t know about pistachios, and who knows, you might just be the most interesting person at the next party you attend. Happy learning!

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1.       The Original Prehistoric Snack.  One of the oldest flowering nut trees, humans have eaten pistachio nuts for at least 9,000 years.  In fact, pistachios are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11).

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2.       Sisterhood of the Traveling Nuts.  The pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life made it an indispensable travel item among early explorers and traders around the world.

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3.       It’s Not Pig Latin.  The word “pistachio” as we know it today has many origins; the Italian pistacchio, the Latin pistacium and the Greek pistakion.

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4.       Celebrate Good Times, Come On. February 26th is recognized by pistachio lovers around the world as World Pistachio Day; a day to honor the historical nut.

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5.       Thank You, James. A dish widely credited for helping put pistachios on the American menu was pistachio ice cream, an invention created by Philadelphia’s James W. Parkinson in the 1940s.

6.       24-Hour Harvest. At harvest, mechanical tree shakers knock pistachios onto a catching frame, from which they are loaded onto containers and rushed to the processing plant. Pistachios must be hulled and dried immediately to preserve their delicate quality.

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7.       A Lifetime of Nuts. Pistachio trees are wind-pollinated, with one male tree producing enough pollen for 25 nut bearing females. Female trees produce their nuts at about age five and can bear fruit for up to 200 years.

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8.       Pistachios are the “Skinny Nut™.” Pistachios are known as the “Skinny Nut™” because they are one of the lowest fat, lowest calorie snack nuts! In fact, did you know that pistachios contain approximately 3-4 calories per nut?¹

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(Photo Credit: Ben &  Jerry’s Ice  Cream) 

9.       It’s so Good, They Had to Say it Twice. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream have their very own “Pistachio Pistachio” flavored ice cream.

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10.       The “Pistachio Principle” will blow your mind. “The Pistachio Principle” is a simple mindful eating concept that may help you fool yourself full – without feelings of deprivation.2 Dr. James Painter completed two studies that found that individuals could reduce their overall calorie consumption without consciously restricting their  diets. The premise is that consumption of in-shell pistachios may help to slow eating when compared to shelled pistachios because the leftover shells may offer an important visual cue about the amount consumed; thereby potentially reducing calorie intake. 3

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26.
  2. Painter, J. “The Effect of Pistachio Shells as a Visual Cue in Reducing Caloric Consumption.” Appetite. 2011, 57(2):418-420.
  3. Honselman, C.S., Painter, J.E., Kennedy-Hagan, K.J., Halvorson, A., Rhodes, K.., & Skwir, K. “The Effect of Pistachio Shells as a Visual Cue in Reducing Caloric Consumption.” Appetite. 2011, 57(2): 418-420.


Pistachio Health Institute RD

The Health Nut blog is developed and reviewed by registered dietitians, aka the nutrition experts!

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