Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Pistachios are naturally low in carbohydrates and are a good source of protein and a good source of mono - and polyunsaturated fats (MUFA), making them a perfect snack for diabetics following recommended dietary guidelines.
Pistachios are also included in the FDA health claim for nuts which states: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. See nutrition information for fat content." Supporting heart health is important for diabetics.
Yes, pistachios make both a great pre- and post-workout snack. Pistachios provide a satisfying combination of protein, fiber and carbohydrates, which are great nutrients to include before and after a workout.
Pistachios are included in the FDA qualified health claim for nuts and heart health: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts such as pistachios as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. [See nutrition information for fat content.]".
Most of the fat found in pistachios is the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Pistachios also offer the highest levels of phytosterols among snack nuts and have a greater antioxidant capacity than most other snack nuts.
Contrary to public opinion, salted nuts aren't necessarily high in sodium. Because salt is present on the surface of the nut, it's tasted immediately. In actuality, a 1-ounce serving (or 49 kernels) of pistachios only contains 7% DV of sodium. As an option, raw pistachios are sodium free.
Yes, roasting nuts increases a nut's flavor, making it a more assertive ingredient in terms of flavor. Thanks to a process called the Maillard Reaction, named after the French chemist Louis Camille Maillard, a complex reaction occurs when proteins and sugars are heated together. The molecules break down into hundreds of flavor compounds, forming a brown color and increasing the complexity of taste. This same reaction is also responsible for the transformation that takes place when meat is browned and coffee beans roasted.
It's important to note that there is very little difference between the nutrient compositions for raw versus roasted pistachios as evidenced in the Pistachio Health tree nut comparison chart.
While there are many ways to test the antioxidant capacity of foods and beverages, no specific study has yet compared pistachios to acai berries or juice. Acai, relatively new in the U.S., is currently not part of the USDA Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) database. However 277 other popular foods and beverages are included, including most herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. In the database, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, and berries rank among the highest on an ounce-per-ounce comparison. On a per-serving ranking, dark chocolate, berries, and specific varieties of apples rank among the highest in total antioxidant capacity.
In one study that was completed on acai juice, UCLA researchers found that acai-based fruit juice ranked lower than pomegranate juice, red wine, Concord grape juice and blueberry juice in antioxidant content11. Acai was similar in antioxidant capacity as cranberry juice, indicating that the fruit is probably lower than blueberries in antioxidant capacity. For comparison, according to the USDA ORAC database, blueberries contain 6,552 Trolox Equivalents (TE)/100g, and pistachios contain 7,557 TE/100g serving. Based on these data, it is likely that pistachios would have a higher ORAC score than acai based on an ounce-per-ounce comparison.
I heard the USDA changed the nutrition information for pistachios. How did the nutrition facts change?
The USDA's National Nutrient Database issued a new release (Release 21) in September 2008; however the nutritional information for pistachios did not change. An article published in the Western Pistachio Association's Fall/Winter 2008 newsletter quoted a consultant who used a reduced serving size of 1 oz (28.35 grams), and that was the reason for the cited variation in caloric content.
The format and regulations concerning the Nutrition Facts statements on packaged food products, like pistachios, is governed by the FDA, not the USDA. FDA regulations have established a standard serving size (or Reference Amount for Customary Consumption) of 30g. In addition, the FDA has established rounding rules for the various nutrient amounts.
A 1 oz serving size of pistachios, about 30 grams shelled, yields about 160 calories. That measures out to be about 49 kernels per ounce - which can make for a very satisfying snack.
Pistachios absorb moisture from the air and will become stale if improperly stored. Keep pistachios in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness. In-shell pistachios will remain fresh for up to one year from the date of production, while shelled pistachios are best eaten within four months for maximum flavor. When thawing frozen pistachios, place them in a plastic bag to prevent the formation of condensation.
According to James Painter, Ph.D., R.D., Chair of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Eastern Illinois University, the "Pistachio Principle" is caloric reduction without calorie restriction. It is one of the many ways we can alter our environmental cues, allowing us to become more mindful and satisfied with our food choices.12
Painter found that eating in-shell pistachios helped individuals eat fewer calories without consciously restricting their calories. Compared to shelled nuts, those who enjoyed in-shell pistachios not only ate 50 percent fewer calories, but they also reported feeling equally satisfied. Another study found that when empty shells were left on the table after eating, individuals ate 35% fewer calories than when shells were discarded after eating.12
As a strategy to help people feel fuller on fewer calories and be more mindful of how much they've eaten, in-shell pistachios are a win-win for successful weight loss. Check out other tips and tricks to "Fool Yourself Thin" in the Pistachio Principle article.
Naturally trans-fat and cholesterol-free, and one of the lowest calorie, lowest fat nuts, pistachios make an ideal snack choice. Pistachios are not only tasty and delicious, they're one of the most nutrient dense nuts1, offering a good source of eight important nutrients including thiamin, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium, fiber, phosphorus and magnesium. They're also portable, making them a great snack for on the go.