DETROIT (WXYZ) — Did you know that February 26 is World Pistachio Day?
And if you ever feel guilty about snacking on such a delectable nut, fear not! In this week’s Living A Better Life series, I’m taking a look at the health benefits of pistachios.
Some 3,000 years ago, legend has it that pistachios were prevalent in the hanging gardens of Babylon. You might say King Nebuchadnezzar was on to something! Pistachios are delicious!
In China, many people call this cousin of the cashew the "happy nut" because they look like they're smiling. These tree nuts with the sweet taste and greenish hue are popular for a variety of reasons.
“Sometimes I bake with them, or I’ll crush them and put them on fish,” said Kathy Miller – a shopper at the Better Health Market in Beverly Hills.
Many restaurants – like Prime and Proper in Detroit -- use the nut as a garnish.
But you can find them in everything from ice creams and gelatos to snack bars and spreads.
Or you can just eat them straight -- shelled or unshelled.
Some people like shopper Dewayne Roland consider shelling pistachios by hand part of the process. His grandmother taught him that.
“Yeah, you know, it’s like you worked a little bit for it. You know?” Roland laughed.
And the petite nut has its pluses!
SOURCE OF PROTEIN & FIBER
Pistachios are a good source of protein and fiber which may help you lose weight.
"The protein and fiber will keep you full, and you won’t be hungry for snacks or tempted to eat chips or anything like this,” said Art Reed – Head Nutritionist at Better Health Market.
So, reaching for a handful of pistachios might be just the trick if you’re trying to get through the day without hitting the vending machine for a sugar-high option.
HEART HEALTHY SNACK
Reed also said these nuts are a heart healthy snack because they have a good balance of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Several studies show pistachios may lower cholesterol and blood pressure more than other nuts… which in turn can lower your risk of heart disease.
The mineral phosphorus can also be found in pistachios. That’s key to keeping bones and teeth strong and ensuring proper physiological functioning.
HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Another benefit? They’re high in antioxidants.
“The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are very good antioxidants for the eyes – helping to help with macular degeneration,” Reed explained.
Other antioxidants in the nuts also aid in the fight against heart disease and cancer prevention.
On top of all of that, pistachios may also help your good gut bacteria, lower your blood sugar, and promote blood vessel health.
Of course, when it comes to snacking on these, the everything-in-moderation rule is helpful.
So, you might need to take a page from Dwayne Roland and shell them yourself…so you don’t polish off a whole bag in one sitting.
I, myself, am a fan of the roasted, salted, shelled variety. To each their own. Bon appetit!
Alicia Smith is the anchor of 7 Action News This Morning at WXYZ (Channel 7) in Detroit. Her Living a Better Life series airs each Tuesday at 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on WXYZ. If you have a story idea on how to improve the mind, body, and spirit, please email Alicia at Alicia.email@example.com with “Living a Better Life story idea” in the subject line.