Spotlight: The powerful punch of pistachios

When I was a kid, pistachios were my mom's go-to snack.  Our pantry was always stocked with at least one bag of the nuts (shells included), and she'd make the healthy choice to eat pistachios over foods that I, as a child, thought looked more appetizing.  Now as a mama myself, I realize that the lack of appeal to me was likely part of her plan (forking over half your meal or snack is a very real part of the parenting gig!).  Either way, she was onto something.  Pistachios offer a wealth of nutrition, and they check all the boxes for an ideal snack.  So let's break it down.  



Serving Size:  One ounce, or 49 pistachios!  And that is not a typo!  Most nuts require strict self-control (read: a couple handfuls can add up to a day's worth of calories + fat), but pistachios offer some leeway.  Buy the version with shells included if you tend to engage in mindless munching.  This will slow down your snacking and help you stick to a single serving.   

Calories: One serving (again, a whopping 49 pistachios) contains 160 calories.  FYI for a similar calorie count, you could eat about 6 walnuts, 8 pecans, 17 cashews, or 23 almonds.  Since it's easy to go overboard eating nuts, I try to stick with options that allow me to consume a greater quantity.  

Protein:  You'll find 6 grams of protein in a serving of pistachios.  That rivals the protein content per serving of almonds, which are another great snack option (but we'll save those details for a future post!).

Fiber:  Pistachios offer 3 grams of fiber per serving, which is roughly equal to the fiber content of 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli.  Foods that offer a combo of fiber and protein will help you feel full and satisfied much longer, so no need to worry about becoming #hangry after snacking on pistachios!

Fat:  Healthy fats, which include mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, should make up the majority of fats within your diet.  Pistachios offer 7 grams of monounsaturated fat, 4 grams of polyunsaturated fats, and 1.5 grams of saturated fats.  The breakdown: pistachios fall into the "healthy" category with 11 grams of the good stuff and only 1.5 grams of the not-so-good stuff.  They're also lower in overall fat than a one-ounce serving of most nuts, including pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts.

Additional health benefits:  Pistachios offer the complete package with a blend of protein, fiber and healthy fats plus essential vitamins and minerals.  One ounce of pistachios contains 15% of the Daily Value of thiamin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus and 20% of the Daily Value of copper.  Furthermore, including pistachios in the diet may positively affect blood sugar levels along with heart health.

Happy snacking!