6 Reasons to Pick Up Some Pistachios

(Family Features) Flavorful and fun, pistachios are a convenient source of protein you can enjoy on the go or in meals. In addition, research shows pistachios have even more health benefits.

The protein quality of pistachios was assessed for the first time at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The study determined roasted pistachios contain all nine essential amino acids necessary for supporting growth and maintaining health for those 5 years and older, and therefore, are considered a complete protein under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition of complete proteins.

“Pistachios are a source of complete protein like eggs, meat, fish and dairy, and they’re a convenient and portable snack that doesn’t require cooking,” said Dr. Mike Roussell, renowned nutrition consultant and author. “Not only are pistachios rich in protein, they offer numerous other nutrition benefits that promote overall wellness. In these uncertain times, they’re a convenient and portable snack that stores well between grocery trips.”

Learn more about the health benefits of these nutritious nuts from the American Pistachio Growers.

Protein alternative: A serving of pistachios has 6 grams of protein. That’s as much protein as an egg, making it a meat alternative for vegans, vegetarians and those who want protein from plant-based sources.

Nutrient-dense noshing: Pistachios contain potassium, the electrolyte that helps support muscle function. A 2-ounce serving of pistachios has more potassium than a large banana. A serving also contains 3 grams of fiber, a key nutrient in maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that keep eyes healthy.

Heart-health benefits: Certified as heart healthy by the American Heart Association, pistachios may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They contain a unique blend of heart-healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants that help increase good cholesterol, lower total and prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol, the first step of plaque forming in arteries.

Fuel for an active lifestyle: As a complete protein, pistachios help build and preserve muscles. Their fiber, antioxidants, lutein, potassium, healthy fat and B-vitamin contents help the body refuel and recover before and after workouts.

A sensible selection: Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie snack nuts, with only 160 calories per 49-nut serving. In addition, the act of having to break them open forces you to slow down your snacking, and the leftover shells offer a visual cue about the amount of pistachios you've consumed, which may help prevent overeating.

Diverse uses: Eat them as a snack right out of the shell or as an ingredient in recipes like protein bars and trail mixes. Use them as a topping for yogurt or flavor them with your favorite seasonings.

For more recipes and snacking ideas, visit AmericanPistachios.org.

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