Researchers Find Simply Snacking on Pistachios Can Provide a Wide Variety of Health Benefits

New study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science examines a surprising number of benefits to human health.

Scientific research on the health effects of eating pistachios has been mounting in recent years as plant-based diets have gained in popularity. A recently published review of scientific studies published in the last 20 years shows the little green nut may have a big impact on human health if consumed regularly.  

Science has linked tree nut properties to three key areas of concern globally: 1) overall heath obtained by important nutrients; 2) weight management; and 3) glycemic control (management of blood sugar levels). This is the summary of research recently published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and authored by scientists from the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany.  The findings were presented at a symposium held during the 13th FENS (Federation of European Nutrition Societies) 2019 Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Scientists gathered there and discussed the compendium of published studies on the specific attributes of pistachios, specifically those grown in the Western United States.

Key points from the paper include:

  • Nutritional Value of Pistachios: Pistachios are a good source of protein, and are high in important nutrients, including fiber, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, thiamin, potassium, phosphorous and chromium. 
  • Weight Management: Numerous studies suggest that pistachios can be beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy weight. One clinical trial found that the women who ate a snack of pistachios experienced a significant increase in fullness after eating, compared to the women who did not eat pistachios. Consequently, the women who ate pistachios also ate less at their next meal, compared to those in the control group. 
  • Glycemic Control: Published research suggests that eating pistachios can have a positive effect on blood glucose control. Glycemic control is especially important during pregnancy, as gestational diabetes affects up to 25 percent of pregnancies worldwide and can have a significant impact on the health of the mother and baby. A recent study looked at the role of pistachios on gestational diabetes in Chinese women, and found that blood sugar and insulin did not increase after eating pistachios, compared to the control group’s carbohydrate-based snack. This is an especially important finding in cultures where refined carbohydrate foods (such as white rice or breads) are a major part of the diet.

As international focus on a sustainable food system intensifies, this study sets the groundwork for future research. It will help others to understand even more about the whole-body health benefits of pistachios and how they can help play a role in a more plant-based food system. This is particularly of interest as health professionals and governments encourage consumers to find more of their protein from plants than animal sources.  Pistachios are one of the few plants known to be a “complete” protein.