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Benefits and Disadvantages of Pistachios Nuts

Benefits and Disadvantages of Pistachio Nuts

Stop eating too many pistachios! You love pistachios; I’ll give you that. They have this buttery flavor that can be addicting. They are healthy, nutritious, and delicious, with an intoxicating aroma. It’s possible to eat three ounces of pistachios in one sitting and feel like eating none. Besides, recipes based on pistachio products keep increasing.

In this post, we discuss the benefits and disadvantages of pistachios. I know it is very hard to believe that a guilt-free snack like pistachio can even have side effects. And you are probably wondering, “how many pistachios are too many?” and “what are the consequences of eating too many pistachios?”
keep reading to find out.


Benefits of Pistachios

Before talking about the disadvantages of pistachios, let’s discuss the health benefits of eating pistachios. Or why do people eat pistachios in the first place?

Pistachios are loaded with nutrients. A fact that makes them both healthful and evil at the same time.

Pistachios are a rich source of unsaturated fats (known as healthy fats), fiber, and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Folate plays several roles in the body. It helps regulate blood sugar and the formation of hemoglobin. Pistachios are also a rich source of potassium (three times banana per ounce) and antioxidants. Pistachios are low in calories (159) but high in protein which makes up 20% of their weight.

Table 1 summarizes the nutrition facts for one ounce of pistachio.

Item Amount
Calories159
Protein6gr
Fat13gr
Carbs8gr
Fiber 3gr
Vitamin E12% referenced daily intake (RDI)
Vitamin B628% RDI
Thiamin 21% RDI
Phosphorus11% RDI
Copper41% RDI
Manganese15% RDI
Selenium56% RDI
Potassium6% RDI
Pistachios have rich nutrient contents. Some of these nutrients are behind the disadvantages of pistachio nuts.

Consuming a one-ounce serving of pistachio (28gr) creates the following health benefits

  • It helps promote a healthy heart
  • It may help lose weight
  • It is good for the eyes
  • It may help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol
  • It may stimulate blood circulation
  • It may lower blood pressure
  • It is beneficial for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome

Disadvantages of Pistachios

Like any other food, pistachios are not without sins. Of course, that does not mean pistachios are bad for you. But if you are allergic to them,  you should avoid them. Having too many pistachios in your daily diet can lead to various side effects. We will discuss some of them here. 

Salmonella And Aflatoxin Infection

Salmonella and aflatoxin infection happens during cultivation or storage conditions.  

Salmonella is the most common pathogen that makes dry fruit highly dangerous for humans. If you consume Salmonella you may become sick. Salmonella mostly contaminates pistachio nuts when they hit the ground. Salmonella may contaminate pistachio through humans, animals, water, and harvest and transport equipment. Salmonella infection usually leads to high temperature, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal problems. It can also weaken the immune system. 

Aflatoxins (fig 1) can also worry pistachio consumers. Split pistachios are susceptible to contamination by aflatoxins.  Aflatoxin exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Chronic exposure may lead to hepatotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and teratogenicity.

Pistachio Infection with Aflatoxin
Aflatoxin infection affects the color and texture of pistachios.

Digestion and Bowel Problems

Digestion problems are a common side effect of eating too many pistachios. Pistachios have a high calorific value. This means they produce a high amount of heat after they are metabolized in the body. For this reason, consuming too many pistachios in a serving may lead to bloating and digestion problems.  

The irritable bowel movement after overeating pistachios is related to fiber. The fiber content in pistachios may help increase the number of beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria are known to produce butyrate (a useful short-chain fatty acid).  It also promotes smooth bowel movement. 

But, after eating too many pistachios, fiber spikes can lead to several health issues. These include irritable bowel syndrome, stomach cramps, malabsorption, and even pain in the abdomen.

Weight Gain

Gaining weight is perhaps among the most known disadvantages of pistachios. Pistachios are delicious and easy-to-eat snacks. You are likely to munch on them too much, which in turn may be the cause of you gaining weight. One ounce of pistachios contains 159 calories. It is still lower than 185 calories in walnuts and 193 calories in pecans. But you might be surprised to know that a single cup of pistachios has as many as 700 calories. So, any measure beyond the recommended daily intake will cause you to gain weight. 

High Blood Pressure

Pistachios have regulating effects on blood circulation and pressure. So, how come they increase blood pressure?

Blood pressure spikes after consuming too many pistachios are caused by salt (sodium) or sugar content.  Many suppliers use salt to process raw pistachios. Most pistachios we eat are already tossed with sea salt or sugar. This can increase the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases in the long run.

one Disadvantages of Pistachios like Sea-salted in-shell pistachio
The white-looking spots are salt accumulations

Kidney Problems

Pistachio consumption does not create kidney problems. But, the consumption of pistachios might be harmful to people who are already suffering from kidney problems. Pistachios contain a high amount of potassium. Potassium is necessary for stress relief and maintaining electrolyte balance. Dysfunctional kidneys are not efficient in removing excess potassium from the body. Too much potassium in the body can lead to other health issues.

Fructan

Doctors and nutritionists caution people to avoid eating too many pistachios because of a compound known as fructan. The sensitivity toward fructan is not very common and is not very dangerous. But sensitivity can cause a range of health issues. Some of the health issues include bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation.

What Causes Pistachio Side Effects?

Artificial colors. Some unscrupulous suppliers may dye pistachios with artificial colors for various reasons, including hiding the stains and making the nuts more appealing to consumers.

Salt and Sugar. Other suppliers may treat pistachios with salt and sugar. Sweetened or salted pistachios may be unhealthy because of high sodium or sugar content. They may result in blood pressure spikes or heart issues.

Salmonellad and Aflatoxin. Salmonella and Aflatoxin infections are the most detrimental disadvantages of eating pistachios that may even land you in the hospital.

Fructans. Fructan content in pistachio nuts may cause digestive system and gastrointestinal problems.

Fiber. Rich fiber content is necessary for digestion health but excess fiber can have consequences for the body.

How to Avoid Salmonella and Aflatoxin

Roasting pistachios over dry heat may help reduce contamination by Aflatoxin and Salmonella. Some pistachio varieties (e.g., Iranian pistachios) can tolerate high heat (180°C) for 20 minutes. So heat-resistant toxins (such as aflatoxin) may not survive on these pistachios. 

American pistachios have a lower roastability. But they are less contaminated with aflatoxin. American growers use clean cultural practices and mechanized harvesting.

How Many Pistachios Can We Eat in a day?

Pistachios are among the most healthy foods on the planet. It would be unwise to abandon eating them. However, to avoid pistachio side effects, it is recommended to limit your consumption of pistachios. 

Most nutritionists recommend their clients consume no more than two ounces (56 grams) of pistachios every day. For shelled pistachios, that adds up to 90 pistachios. 

Nutritionists also advise people to drink a sufficient amount of water to digest. Otherwise, you may get an upset stomach after eating pistachios.


conclusion

We need to be careful of the disadvantages of pistachios. Pistachios can be used as healthy, delicious, and guilt-free snacks if consumed in moderation. Overeating pistachios may create pistachio side effects. Side effects of eating pistachios can range from minor discomfort to serious health issues.
Have you had any incident with eating pistachios?
Please tell us about it in the comment section.

FAQ

9 thoughts on “Benefits and Disadvantages of Pistachios Nuts

  1. Christina Tokar says:

    I love pistachios, and because I am on a low catb diet, I probably eat to many at one sitting. My last blood test, my hemoglobin and hemocrit levels were both high. Could pistachios be the cause?

    1. Daniel Solo says:

      Hi Christina,
      I think you should consult with a medical expert. I only discuss the concepts here.

  2. Ed says:

    Vitamin B6 is NOT folate.
    Folate is B9.

    1. Daniel Solo says:

      Thank you, Ed. We will make corrections ASAP.

  3. patricia skoutas says:

    very interesting theories. but I WANT TO KNOW WHY I CANT TASTE THE SALT. IT HAS BEEN REDUCED A LOT AND IM USE TO SUCKING THE SHELLS

  4. Kip says:

    oh my word. Talk about a ridiculous article. Yes, these things CAN happen but the likelyhood is so remote as to be insulting to even suggest it. Eating ANYTHING in abundance can cause problems. Salmonna can be found on ALL kinds of different foods and of course it will make you sick. This article reads like a hate letter to Pistachios. If you happen upon this absurd article keep on eating this versatile snack. It’s incredibly good for you and unless you go insane and eat a whole bag every day, you’ll be fine. Either that or if you develop any symptoms use common sense and stop eating them.

    1. brenda says:

      I don’t think it’s a ridiculous article at all considering I learned a lot while reading it. Not everybody knows everything.

    2. Stephen Vincent says:

      Warnings are vital I ate about 20 odd pistachios in one sitting and it left me with an upset stomach but worse of all a burning sensation all over my upper body. Not a good feeling.

  5. Ruth says:

    Can the effect be reversed

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