With the recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicating that pistachios can lower LDL - bad for you - cholesterol, isn't it time you included the delectable little nut in your diet? Known to improve heart-health by reducing inflammation in the body, pistachios offer a crunchy dose of other nutritional benefits - not to mention great taste. Read on for more nutty-good information and delicious recipes featuring pistachios.
Pistachios are one healthy nut
In addition to being a heart-healthy snack, a one-ounce serving of pistachios provides a delicious 170 calories, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fat. The good news is that 11 of the 13 fat grams are "good for you" fats (7 grams of monounsaturated fat and 4 grams of polyunsaturated fat).
And, according to the Western Pistachio Association, new groundbreaking research in nutrition suggests that eating pistachios may help moderate your body's biological response to the stresses of everyday life. (Just don't eat too many!)
Here are few other fast nutrition facts on pistachios, courtesy of the Western Pistachio Association:
- One-ounce of pistachios equals 49 heart-healthy nuts (that is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut).
- Pistachios are naturally free of cholesterol and trans fat.
- One serving of pistachios has as much potassium as half a large banana (about 300 milligrams).
- Pistachios can be served as a protein alternative to meat, poultry or beans.
- There is more fiber in a serving of pistachios than in a nectarine or cup of prune juice.
- A serving of pistachios contains more than 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B-6, thiamin, copper and phosphorous.
- Pistachios also contain calcium, iron, folate, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
- In July 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the health claim "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Ready to incorporate more pistachios in your diet? Here are three satisfying pistachio recipes to get you started.
Pistachio Pesto Pasta
Recipe courtesy of Yurosek Farms, located in Bakersfield, California
- 1 cup packed, fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup shelled, roasted/salted California pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper
- 8 ounces package enriched pasta (measured dry)
- Place basil, cheese, pistachios, oil, garlic and pepper in food processor or blender and process until well blended. Boil pasta as directed on package and drain. In a large bowl combine the pesto and pasta. Serve warm.
Note: To keep them at their freshest, store pistachios in a refrigerated, airtight container. You can also keep them in the freezer for long-term (up to a year) storage.
Salmon With Pistachio-Basil Butter
Recipe courtesy of Nichols Farms, located in Hanford, California
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios (about 1 ounce)
- 10 large fresh basil leaves or 1/4 cup parsley and 2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 6 (6 ounces each) 1-1/2-inch-thick salmon fillets
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Additional fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Process pistachios, 10 basil leaves and garlic cloves in a food processor until finely chopped. Add 1/2-cup butter and 1 teaspoon lime juice and process until incorporated into mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer butter mixture to a small bowl. Refrigerate until well chilled. (Pistachio butter can be prepared up to 4 days ahead.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place salmon fillets in dish in a single layer. Cover with white wine. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Bake salmon until almost opaque on top, about 10 minutes.
- Place 1 to 2 tablespoons pistachio butter atop each salmon piece. Continue baking until salmon fillets are just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to plates. Garnish with basil if desired and serve immediately.
Cranberry Pistachio Semolina Tea Bread
Recipe courtesy of Heart of the Desert Pistachios from Eagle Ranch, New Mexico
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina (pasta) flour, or 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup coarsely chopped Heart of the Desert Pistachios
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (dried is fine)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two loaf pans (3-1/2" x 7-1/2" each). In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix all other ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly.
- Divide between the two loaf pans. Bake until golden brown and wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean - approximately 25 to 35 minutes (depending on altitude).
- Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans. May be served warm or at room temperature.