Senior Health

6/17/2022 | By Tonya Russell

You may already know that pistachios are tasty and versatile, but did you know that pistachios are healthy, too? They offer protein, fiber, healthy fat, antioxidants, and more. The five virtues of this little nut – well, seeds, actually – can convince you to make them a part of your diet.

People have been eating pistachios for a long time – there are actually references to this slightly sweet nut in the Old Testament of the Bible, and they’ve been imported into the U.S. since the 1880s. Pistachios, which are actually the edible seeds of the pistachio tree, were once a status symbol and delicacy for the bourgeois, but now they’re widely cultivated and available to pretty much anyone who wants a nutritious snack. (In fact, 950 farms in New Mexico, California and Arizona produce the crop, and that’s just in the U.S.!) It’s no wonder we’ve thought of countless ways to consume them, from roasting and tossing them over salads to mixing them into gelato and baked goods.

Because pistachios are healthy and versatile, blending a touch of sweet with umami, they truly have a place in any meal or snack – it just depends on how much you love them and how creative you can get. Sprinkle crushed pistachios over Greek yogurt, grind up a healthy pistachio-based topping for fish, or pop them in the oven seasoned with spices and citrus. And there’s more reason to pick up pistachios at the grocery store beyond their tastiness: pistachios are extremely healthy and full of benefits, and according to Amy Gorin, M.S., RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut, they may be just what you need to ensure you hit your daily nutrient goals.

Top 5 ways pistachios are healthy

1. Pistachios are a complete protein.

Pistachios. Photo by Feng You, Dreamstime. Not only are they tasty, but pistachios are healthy for your daily diet, too, with protein, fiber, healthy fat, antioxidants, and more.

Gorin says pistachios are one of the highest-protein snacking nuts. “Pistachios are a wonderful source of plant-based protein – and they’re actually a complete protein source, offering 6 grams of protein per 1/4-cup serving,” she says. “This means they help fuel your body with all nine essential amino acids.”

Typically, plant protein sources may not have all of the essential amino acids, which means you have to mix and match sources to get everything, but pistachios are one of the few that provide everything you need.

2. Pistachios are one of the highest-fiber nuts.

A diet rich in fiber can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Pistachios have more fiber than other nuts, making them an excellent choice for snacking. You get 3 grams of fiber per 1/4-cup serving of pistachios, Gorin says.

3. Pistachios contain healthy fat.

Many people are dismayed by the fat content in nuts, including pistachios, mistakenly discounting how healthy they are. Gorin reassures us that their fat content (in moderation) doesn’t decrease the benefits; the polyunsaturated fats found in pistachios not only increase feelings of satiety, but also help lower your cholesterol. “Pistachios provide fiber and better-for-you unsaturated fats. The trio of protein, fiber, and fat helps keep you fuller for longer – and provides sustained energy,” she says.

4. Pistachios provide lots of vitamin B6.

Pistachios are rich in nutrients overall, but their B6 content is significant. A balanced diet high in vitamin B6 helps prevent conditions like anemia and lowers your risk of heart disease. It’s also essential for building muscles since it helps your body process amino acids. One handful of pistachios gives you 30% of your recommended daily value of this important nutrient.

Pistachios also contain smaller amounts of other vitamins in the B complex, including thiamin (B1) and folate (B9).

5. Pistachios offer several antioxidants.

Pistachio lovers get an antioxidant boost, too. Compounds in pistachios like lutein, beta carotene and gamma-tocopherol help to reverse the effects of cellular damage.

Now that you know that pistachios are healthy, grab a handful and indulge!

Real Simple magazine provides smart, realistic solutions to everyday challenges. Online at

© 2022 Meredith Corporation. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Tonya Russell

Tonya Russell is a health, wellness, and travel writer who has been featured in top publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and more. She uses lived experiences as a Black woman to fuel her passion for writing about Black health.