Heart-Smart Pistachios

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • I think it's fairly well known that walnuts provide some heart health benefits , but were you aware pistachio's can be a good choice as well?


    Pistachios are a good source of many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.


    A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of pistachios provides:


    170 calories
    6 grams protein
    2.9 grams fiber
    73.4 mg omega 3 fatty acids
    59.9 mg phytosterols


    Pistachios are also a good source of copper, manganese, vitamin B6, thiamin, magnesium , and phosphorous. They also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids associated with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration .

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    But, how do pistachios positively impact cholesterol and heart health?


    The high levels of antioxidants, phytosterols, and unsaturated fats found in pistachios all contribute to heart health benefits, as well as the fiber , potassium, and other nutrients the nut provides.




    Oxidative stress plays a key role in the development of heart disease , which is why a diet high in antioxidants is essential. Pistachios contain 10 different antioxidants , each providing a unique health benefit.




    Phytosterols, also known as plant sterols , have been shown to significantly lower LDL cholesterol in several different studies. Researchers believe this may be because phytosterols have a similar structure to cholesterol which means phytosterols may "compete" with cholesterol for absorption, which leads to lower levels of cholesterol being absorbed by the body.

    Pistachios and Lower LDL Cholesterol

    Back in September 2008, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found 1-2 handfuls of pistachio each day to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Adding 1.5 ounces of pistachios daily resulted in a 9% reduction in LDL cholesterol and 3 ounces lowered LDL cholesterol levels 12%. The study also found HDL cholesterol levels to increase in women who added 3 ounces of pistachios to their daily diet.

    Here's another reason to consider including pistachios as part of your heart healthy diet plan. A 1 ounce serving of pistachios provides 49 nuts, while a 1 ounce serving of almonds equals 23 nuts, pecans 19 nuts, and walnuts 14 nuts. You may feel like you are "getting" a little more when you enjoy a serving of pistachios for a heart healthy snack .


    Just keep in mind that nuts, including pistachios, are high in calories. Watch your portion size!

    Be sure to sign-up for the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps .


Published On: March 10, 2010