Get nutty with pistachios!

Pistachios are loaded with healthy fats, antioxidants and many nutrients that keep you healthy and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The nutritious nut

Crazy about nuts? If not, you should be! Feb. 26 was National Pistachio Day, providing a great reason to introduce yourself to the nutritious little nut if you aren’t already familiar. These green nuts are loaded with healthy fats, antioxidants and nutrients that can help your heart, keep you slim, protect your eyes and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. One serving of pistachios (one ounce or about 49 nuts) is only 160 calories and has three grams of fiber to help keep your digestive tract running smoothly.

Healthy heart pistachios

Pistachios are full of unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for your heart, skin and growth. Although we need healthy fats in our diet, remember to consume in moderation to gain the most health benefits. To learn more about healthy fats, take a look at Fats: the good, the bad, and the ugly by Michigan State University Extension.

Antioxidant protection from pistachios

Out of all the nuts, pistachios have the highest amount of antioxidants. They even rank higher than green tea on an antioxidant scorecard created by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This green nut is bursting with two sight-saving antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants are important because they may play a role in decreasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and many other life threatening diseases. Read more about antioxidants on the MSU Extension website.

Pistachios and weight management

Pistachios are a great source of protein and fiber, which keep you full and satisfied. Also, you can have a lot more pistachios than most other nuts – 49 nuts for only 160 calories! Buy pistachios with the shell on. It will take longer to eat and you can enjoy them for longer. Shopping tip: Look for the pistachios with the shells cracked open. Closed shelled pistachios are immature and may taste bitter. To keep pistachios crunchy and tasting great for longer, store them in an airtight container to keep the moisture out.

Enjoy pistachios by trying this below recipe, incorporated from Homemade and Wholesome.

Homemade pistachio granola bars

Ingredients

2 cups of old fashioned oats

1 cup of Rice Krispies® cereal (optional)

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped (un-salted)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (optional – add for a more moist bar)

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop pistachios by hand or with a food processor.
  2. Combine oats, rice cereal (optional), pistachios and raisins into a large bowl.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl combine peanut butter, brown sugar, applesauce* and honey. Then microwave on high for 1.5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the microwave and pour the peanut butter mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix thoroughly making sure every bit of dry ingredient is covered with the peanut butter mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into an 8x10 baking sheet, press down into pan and let cool before covering with plastic wrap. You can also roll them into balls, shape them into bars or cut them into fun shapes!

Nutrition information per 2”x2” granola bar:

116 calories

5 grams total fat

0.7 grams saturated fat

39 milligrams sodium

17 grams carbohydrates

3 grams protein

MSU Extension offers nutrition education classes for adults and youth that include information on healthy eating choices consumers can make.

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