The Green Nut

By Sharon Naylor

December 3, 2010 5 min read

Have you "gone green" lately? If you've popped a handful of pistachios, you've experienced the new superstar of the snack world. According to the Food and Drug Administration, "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."

*What Are the Benefits?

Dr. Oz Garcia says at http://www.TheGreenNut.org: "According to new research ... in The Journal of Nutrition, pistachios have cardio-protective benefits, meaning they're heart-healthy. We have long known that nuts are good for your heart, but this study showed that eating pistachios raises the level of antioxidants in the blood, reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering the level of oxidized-LDL (bad) cholesterol. Antioxidants are powerhouses that fight the molecules that can cause heart disease and cancer."

Garcia adds: "Pistachios are the only nuts that give you significant amounts of certain important antioxidants like lutein, zeazanthin and gamma tocopherol. I often recommend my patients snack on pistachios daily for the cardiovascular and overall health benefits."

Promising research indicates that eating pistachios may reduce the risk of diabetes and lower the body's physiological response to stress. On a recent episode of "The Dr. Oz Show," Dr. Mehmet Oz discussed how certain food properties remain in your blood vessels to continue to absorb the nutrients hours after you eat, which reduces your desire to eat more when stressed. Dr. Oz specifically mentioned pistachios' de-stressing properties, which come about because of the time it takes to open their shells and because they contain stress-reducing plant sterols, which also help to lower cholesterol levels. Dr. Oz recommends eating 3 ounces of pistachios a few times per week to reduce stress levels.

According to The Green Nut, pistachios provide 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein in 1 ounce and are good sources of copper (20 percent of your recommended daily allowance) and thiamin (15 percent of your RDA) -- and they provide only 2 grams of sugar and 160 calories per ounce. Additional perks per ounce of pistachios include:

--20 percent RDA of vitamin B-6.

--15 percent of phosphorus.

--8 percent of magnesium.

--4 percent of folate.

Additional healthy facts about pistachios include:

--One serving of pistachios delivers a bit more (12 percent) dietary fiber than a half-cup of cooked broccoli (10 percent).

--One serving of pistachios offers more potassium (8 percent) than an orange (7 percent).

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid shows that pistachios' 6 grams of protein make them a healthy alternative to beef, poultry and beans.

--Pistachios have no cholesterol or trans fats.

*How Many To Savor

The Green Nut's experts say it only takes 1.5 servings of pistachios, approximately 74 nuts, to reap numerous heart-health benefits when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

You read correctly. One serving of pistachios equals an astounding 49 nuts, which is a greater number than any other nut and certainly makes snackers feel very satisfied.

*How To Incorporate Pistachios Into Your Diet

Pistachios can be eaten in pure form as a pop-in-your-mouth snack, but you also can enhance meals and desserts with them. Here are some suggestions:

--Add a handful of pistachios to your oatmeal breakfast.

--Add pistachios to healthy-recipe baked goods, such as muffins, nut breads and oatmeal cookies.

--Top a serving of yogurt or frozen yogurt with pistachios.

--Top a fresh garden salad with a handful of pistachios.

--Visit http://www.TheGreenNut.org to find recipes and tips on adding pistachios to appetizers, side dishes and entrees. Some examples of the recipes found on the site are grilled salmon and pistachio couscous salad, white bean dip with pistachios and cilantro, and a gluten-free pistachio gelato.

Also at The Green Nut's website, you can send your questions about pistachios' health benefits to the collection of nutrition experts and receive advice about how best to incorporate the healthy green nut into your family's diet. As always, be aware of the possibility of nut allergies in your family and guests before serving pistachios.

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