Lately, pistachios have been making headlines and getting t.v. time as being called the "lowest calorie nut." Pistachios just so happen to give this impression of being the lowest calorie containing nuts around because it takes about 49 pistachios to equal the amount of calories in 22 almonds, 18 cashews, 21 hazelnuts, 11 macadamias, 19 pecans and 14 walnuts (12). The trend that I've noticed is that we all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but in today's age we are becoming more information-oriented. In other words, we know nuts are healthy, but now we are able to specify unique benefits from each kind of nut. I've always known nuts and seeds were healthy fats and in the last couple of decades, the research has been surmounting in support of nuts being great for heart-health, reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol (2, 6, 8, 9). Studies have also shown nuts to be great for weight-reduction and weight-control (11, 14). While all nuts have unique properties, pistachios have stood out in terms of their nutrient density and corresponding caloric content (6). Even though nuts contain superb nutrition, sometimes people shy away from them because of the calories. However, there is a nut that may have fewer calories than was once thought: pistachios.
A new study found that the fat in pistachios may not be as readily absorbed by the intestinal tract (3). The researchers found that the caloric value of pistachios is overestimated by ~ 5 percent and that pistachio nuts contain less metabolizable energy than that calculated from the Atwater general factors (3). Additionally, there was a 6% reduction on the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the participants of this study (3). This new study (3) gives pistachios a unique new attractive "weight-loss" quality.
Moreover, other research has shown pistachios to have a cholesterol-lowering effect by reducing serum oxidized-LDL concentration (9) and also to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors (6). Another new study found that eating in-shell pistachios led to a lower caloric intake versus shelled pistachios (7). The researchers suggested that the extra time needed to shell the nuts or the perceived extra volume of the in-shell nuts led to a lower total intake compared to the shelled pistachios (7). I'd like to add another potential reason for the outcome of this study. The lower consumption could also be due to the fact that the longer one takes to eat (via shelling pistachios), the more time is allowed for the brain to register one's satiety and appetite. It has been said that it takes the body 10-15 minutes before appetite is regulated. Other recent research has also found that the visual cue of the pistachio shells can also lead to a reduced caloric intake (10). It was found that the visual sight of the quantity of shells acted as a visual cue to aid in caloric intake control (10). When the shells were out of sight, the amount of pistachios and corresponding calories consumed was significantly greater (10). In essence, the main take away from these studies is that whatever strategies can be used to balance caloric intake with caloric expenditure will eventually lead to greater weight management and success. More importantly though, pistachios are also very healthy and nutritious (4, 6, 9).Another unique trait of pistachios is there green color. As mentioned in my "Go Green to Get Lean" article, I was amazed to find out that the pistachio is green due to chlorophyll content (1, 4)! In fact, this is one of the main factors that gives green leafy veggies, pistachios and other green foods great nutritional power. Although research is at an early stage, chlorophyll has been mainly studied for it's effects on cancer treatment and prevention (5, 13). Incorporating pistachios into one's diet can be made easy. Simply eating them by themselves, eating them with fruit, oatmeal, salads, smoothies, yogurt, etc. They have a wonderful taste and I love the idea of eating more of them for the same amount of calories as one would attain by eating a smaller quantity of other nuts. In a nutshell (no pun intended), pistachios are wonderful amenity and definitely a staple in my diet.
The one thing I pride myself in is that I have average genetics and that I have had to work extremely hard not only with training but also with my nutrition to attain results. This is why I strongly believe in my ability to help others, because if I can do it, anyone can do it! As a result of my determination towards reaching my health & fitness goals, I've been able to assemble some of the leanest, yet nutrient dense snacks. One of my favorites is the banana, peanut butter oat-bran dip with pistachios. Here is the simple recipe:
Banana Peanut Butter Oat-Bran Dip
better n peanut butter (lowest calorie nut butter currently on the market)
I simply take the banana and coat the top with some better n peanut butter, then dip into oat bran (the peanut butter will become coated with oat bran) and eat with pistachios. It has an amazing taste and is choke-full of nutrients. The banana is a good source of potassium, vitamin B-6, magnesium, while the oat bran is great for cholesterol, digestive health and contains beta-glucans. The better n peanut butter is simply a lower calorie version of most nut butters while this article has already mentioned the great benefits of pistachios. All in all, I enjoy this snack and it is very quick and simple to make.
The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the article and will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications. Copyright Ivan Blazquez, 2011. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and author of this publication.
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