Including more pistachios in your diet can actually be good for you.
Nearly three-quarters of the calories in pistachios come from fats. While that amount may seem unhealthy, the fats are actually good for you. Pistachios are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, more commonly known as MUFAs and PUFAs. These signature вЂњgoodвЂќ fats offer a variety of benefits for your body.
Effects on Cholesterol
In 2008, researchers at Pennsylvania State University conducted a study to determine the benefits of fats in pistachios on cardiovascular disease risk. Participants in the study had elevated low-density lipoprotein -- the harmful cholesterol that leads to heart disease. During the study, research subjects ate no pistachios for the first month, had one serving of pistachios the second month and had two servings of pistachios during the third month. The results, which were published in вЂњThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,вЂќ found that consuming two servings of pistachios daily -- amounting for 20 percent of your total calories from pistachios -- can lower your LDL cholesterol by about 8 percent and total cholesterol by around 11 percent, thus lowering your risk of heart disease. For an average 2,000-calorie diet, this would equate to roughly 2.5 ounces of pistachios daily.
Weight Control Benefits
A research review published in the April 2012 edition of вЂњNutrition ReviewsвЂќ looked into studies that evaluated pistachios and satiety. Because of the high MUFA and PUFA contents of pistachios, they take a while for your body to digest, as compared to a high-carb snack, like pretzels. You probably won't feel that late-afternoon rumbling in your tummy if you snack on nuts. The review pointed out that while pistachios can surely improve satiety, you need to eat them in moderation because they are high in calories.
Blood Sugar Control
Monounsaturated fats in pistachios can improve insulin levels in your blood, according to MayoClinic.com. Insulin is the hormone that regulates your blood sugar, or glucose, levels. When you replace saturated and trans fats in your diet with MUFAs, your blood sugar levels could stabilize. This is especially beneficial if you have Type 2 diabetes and your system doesn't use insulin well or doesn't have enough of the hormone.
Even though MUFAs and PUFAs are вЂњgoodвЂќ fats, they are, indeed, still fats. Since fats have 9 calories in a gram -- more than double the amount you'll get from a gram of carbohydrate or protein -- you'll have to limit your serving of pistachios. Otherwise, you'll quickly eat the whole container and get way more calories than you intended. Having a 1-ounce serving, which amounts to about 49 kernels, gets you a healthy dose of beneficial fats for less than 160 calories.