Two New Health Benefits of Pistachios

Upgrade your snacking preferences and your body will thank you. (Plus, try this recipe for pistachio pesto!)

They’re so salty, crunchy, and delicious, you might consider pistachios to be your guilty pleasure. But even though nuts are high in calories, these green snacks have been proven innocent by two recent studies that found that pistachios have some unexpected health benefits.

 

First, pistachios can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition. In fact, having two servings daily resulted in greater cholesterol-lowering effects as compared to eating only one serving.

Plus, a second study from Spanish researchers found that a diet including pistachios (about two ounces per day) led to decreases in fasting glucose levels, insulin, and insulin resistance—measures that are associated with diabetes.

Franklin Becker, author of Good Fat Cooking, explains that pistachios are high in healthy fats, which makes them a smart snack, not an unhealthy splurge. “Because nuts contain so much good fat, protein, and carbs, they are also high in calories,” he says. “But if you think you need to avoid them in order to keep your weight under control, surprisingly, the opposite is true: The dense calories of nuts actually make you feel fuller faster.” In fact, Becker points out that nuts played a crucial role in helping him controlling his weight when he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Pistachios are delicious on their own, but Becker also recommends paring them with basil and parsley in grain or vegetable dishes to create a balanced flavor with an amazing crunchy texture. Or, try his recipe for Pistachio Pesto.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:
In a food processor, combine the pistachios, parsley, basil, cheese, olive oil, and garlic. Pulse until smooth.