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Pistachio Shells Are a Pain – But That’s a Good Thing

Pistachio Shells
Dr. Steven Pratt, MD, FACS, ABIHM

With Steve’s guidance, we created the original SuperFoodsRx grouping of 25 foods crucial to optimum human health. A diet rich in these SuperFoods forms the central concept of our nutritional recommendations.

Why would I be recommending a food that’s difficult to eat? Good question, and the answer might surprise you.

We often consider pistachios an overlooked SuperFood. They made it as a Sidekick to walnuts on the original list of SuperFoods from our best selling book SuperFoodsRx: 14 Foods That Will Change Your Life, and they are really something special in the nut family.

Pistachios are a “nutrient dense” food. How so? Just a small handful of pistachios contain more natural antioxidants than a cup of that well known anti-oxidant — green tea. In fact, pistachios have some of the highest levels of polyphenol antioxidants of any nut we would consider as snacks.

Guess which nut has the absolute highest amounts of beta-carotene per ounce? Yep, pistachios. An ounce of pistachios has 342 mcgs of lutein + zeaxanthin. No other nut comes close in the amount of these crucial eye health nutrients. They’re also loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6 (higher than any nut), Vitamin E, folate, phytosterols and protein.

Nutrient dense foods like pistachios contribute to a healthy diet and help your system battle many of the causes of chronic diseases. Regular consumption of naturally occurring nutrients in pistachios is associated with a reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and macular degeneration.

So what about those tricky shells that can make eating them difficult to eat? It turns out that having to shell the darn things slows down how quickly we can eat them. Studies have shown that the signals the body sends out to let us know when we’re getting that full feeling, called satiety, only start about twenty minutes after we start eating. The work it takes to eat pistachios allows our sense of satiety to develop. We feel full before we’ve had too many, so we get all the nutrient benefits without overdoing the calories. How about that for a perfect snack?

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