The pistachio is a nutrient-dense nut with a heart-healthy fatty-acid profile as well as protein, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, γ-tocopherol, and a number of phytochemicals. The pistachio's unique green and purple kernel color is a result of its lutein and anthocyanin content. Among nuts, pistachios contain the highest levels of potassium, γ-tocopherol, vitamin K, phytosterols, and xanthophyll carotenoids. Five published randomized cardiovascular trials have shown that pistachios promote heart-healthy blood lipid profiles. Exploratory clinical studies suggest that pistachios help maintain healthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, glycemic control, and endothelial function. When consumed in moderation, pistachios may help control body weight because of their satiety and satiation effects and their reduced net metabolizable energy content. One study with subjects in a weight-loss program demonstrated lower body mass index and triglyceride levels in individuals who consumed pistachios compared with those who consumed an isocaloric pretzel snack. Emerging research suggests that the addition of pistachios to high-glycemic meals may lower the overall postprandial glycemic response. This review examines the nutrients and phytochemicals in pistachios as well as the potential health effects of these nuts.
© 2012 International Life Sciences Institute.