Pistachio or pista is a drupe with an elongated edible seed in the center belonging to the Anacardiaceae, cashew family. The tree with its origins in Central Asia, Middle East is widely cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir, in our country. The edible seeds are widely consumed as a snack and used in a variety of cuisine globally. It is one of the oldest cultivated trees which lives up to 300 hundred years and takes on average 8-10 months for significant harvest.
Pistachios are harvested using a machine to remove the drupe, after the process of hulling and drying, the seeds are graded based on the type -open mouth shell and closed mouth shell. The seeds are then roasted and processed to make pistachio kernel. The kernels are consumed fresh or roasted or salted and used extensively in baking, confectionaries, ice creams, butter and many more.
Pistachios come with a rich array of essential nutrients including protein, fibre, vitamins E, K, B6, thiamin, folate, B5 and minerals calcium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, phytosterols and carotenoids. It is also a good source of essential fatty acids such as saturated fatty acids -palmitic and stearic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids- oleic acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids -linoleic acid. Studies prove that consumption of pistachios lowers risk of heart disease, maintain lipid profile and aids in controlling blood pressure.
Health Benefits Of Pistachios
Improves Heart Health
Pistachio serves as an ideal snack for all health-conscious individuals, regular intake of this healthy nut can remarkably lower LDL (bad) cholesterol level in the body. The wealth of plant sterols and antioxidants are beneficial in improving heart health. In addition, pistachios are also a potent source of amino acids L-arginine which prevents hardening of arteries and formation of blood clots.
Promotes Good Vision
The goodness of eye-healthy antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin E in pistachio helps in improving the vision, lowering risk of age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions. The fat profile of pistachio assists in better assimilation of carotenoids, the antioxidants potent for healthy vision.
Potent Anti-Inflammatory Effects
According to the Arthritis Foundation pistachios are ideal nuts for lowering inflammation and treats arthritis as it is heaped with an ample amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, Vitamins E, and A, magnesium, zinc and calcium. Furthermore, the powerful anti-inflammatory properties help in battling inflammation, reduces pain and improves bone and joint health.
Improves Gut Health
Pistachios are one of the Indian foods that are super-rich in dietary fibre, support digestion process and treat constipation. Amazingly the fibre present in these nuts are digested by the bacteria in the gut and acts as prebiotic. The gut bacteria ferment the fibre in pistachios and convert it to short-chain fatty acids- butyric acids which can remarkably increase the good bacteria levels in the gut thereby lowering the risk of colon cancer and improving overall gut health.
Pistachio is highly praised for its aphrodisiac properties and top the list of aphrodisiac foods. As per the study published in International Journal of Impotent Research these nuts are well-known to promote sexual vitality in men. The goodness of amino acids L-arginine in pistachio stimulates the blood flow in the arteries by increasing the nitric oxide level in the blood, a vital ingredient that assists in relaxing blood vessels and treats erectile dysfunction.