Are the Fats in Pistachio Nuts Bad for You?

Pistachios in a bowl (on wood)
plate of pistachio nuts (Image: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images)

Pistachio nuts are a filling snack, and if you choose the pistachio nuts that are still in their shells, it takes you longer to eat them, so you are less likely to eat too many. Although nuts like pistachios are relatively high in fat, they are healthy when eaten in moderation.

Type of Fat in Pistachios

bowl of pistachios (Image: fpwing/iStock/Getty Images)

Pistachio nuts contain 15 grams of fat per ounce, but only 2 grams of this fat is the unhealthy saturated kind that can increase your cholesterol and your risk for heart disease. The rest of the fat is a combination of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, both of which can have beneficial effects on your health. You are supposed to consume these types of fats instead of saturated fats, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

Nutrition in Pistachios

Pistachio II
branch of pistachio tree (Image: IGNASI22/iStock/Getty Images)

The fat in pistachios comes along with a variety of essential nutrients, making them a healthy snack. A 1-ounce serving of pistachio nuts contains 160 calories, along with 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. As part of a 2,000 calorie diet, this serving provides you with 25 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6, 15 percent of the DV for thiamine and phosphorus and 10 percent of the DV for magnesium. Thiamine and vitamin B-6 help you turn food into energy, and phosphorus and magnesium are essential for forming DNA.

Pistachios Health Benefits

close up of pistachios (Image: jongallas/iStock/Getty Images)

Eating pistachio nuts instead of other foods high in saturated fats may lower your total cholesterol, increase your HDL, or good, cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease, according to a study published in 1999 in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." In another study published in April 2010 in the journal "Nutrition," participants who followed a diet in which pistachio nuts provided 20 percent of the fat calories had decreased blood glucose levels, decreased LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels, decreased total cholesterol and inflammation and improved endothelial function. The effects of pistachios on heart disease risk factors are dose-dependent, meaning consuming more of your fat calories in the form of pistachio nuts increases the beneficial effects, according to a study published in September 2008 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."

During Weight Loss

Pistachios in a Bag
snack bag of pistachios (Image: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images)

Pistachio nuts make a good snack even for those on a diet. Replacing a carbohydrate snack like pretzels with pistachio nuts containing the same amount of calories can improve triglyceride levels in people on a diet without interfering with their weight loss, according to study published in the June 2010 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition."

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