The Pistacia vera, more commonly know as the pistachio, is primarily found in areas such as the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but 98% of U.S. pistachios are grown in California. My choice is any variety that is certified organic and preferably soaked and sprouted. We buy them by the bag from Blue Mountain Organics.
The pistachio may be small, but this nut is packed with vitamins and nutrients that benefit many parts of your body such as the heart, nervous and digestive systems. They make a great snack or mixed into a salad. There are also recipes for pistachios such as crusted lamb chops. Delicious!
Take a look at the many benefits of pistachios:
Pistachios have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase the HDL cholesterol. High in antioxidants such as vitamins A and E, they fight inflammation, protecting blood vessels and reducing risk of heart disease. Oxidized LDL is reduced, which markedly reduces heart attack risk. Pistachios lower blood pressure according to the July issue of Hypertension. High in vitamin B6, the pistachio will improve the methylation cycle and therefore lower homocysteine.
A recent study showed that pistachios improve the microbiome in the gut. By improving bacteria in your colon, just about every health issue gets better. This is great news for those with inflammatory bowel disease. Lastly, the nut contains a decent amount of fiber.
The vitamin B6 so abundant in pistachios has wide-ranging effects on the nervous system, as this vitamin plays a crucial role in the formation of myelin, the insulating sheath around nerve ﬁbers that allows optimal messaging between nerves. Furthermore, vitamin B6 contributes to the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. Better neurotransmitters, better brain.
Eating pistachios may help to prevent Type 2 diabetes according to a recent study in the European Journal of Nutrition, March 2014.
Here is that B6 again. Vitamin B6 is essential to make hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen through the blood stream to cells, and is also shown to increase the amount of oxygen carried.
Pistachios contain two carotenoids not found in most nuts. These carotenoids, called lutein and zeaxanthin, function as protective antioxidants, defending tissues from damage from free radicals. They have been linked with a decrease in the risk for developing age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of visual impairments and acquired blindness in the United States.
All the vitamins and minerals in pistachios boost immunity. Interestingly, pistachios have antibacterial activity against the gut pathogens E. coli and Listeria.