The Real Reason You Should Eat More Pistachios

Pistachio enthusiasts, we have some good news: your favorite snacks are better for you than you probably thought (as long as they're raw, that is). But before we get into why pistachios are so healthy, let's talk about what they are in the first place. Botanically speaking, the green, hard-shelled snacks are actually seeds of pistachio tree fruits, according to Healthline. However, in the culinary world, they're classified as nuts.

Despite being small, pistachios are packed with tons of nutrients. We're talking 21 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and 144 percent of your suggested daily intake of copper in just 3.5 ounces — and that barely scratches the surface of all the health benefits there are of eating pistachios. Oh, and don't let their calorie count scare you. Pistachios aren't actually linked to significant weight gain (via Healthline). In fact, people usually feel less hungry when they incorporate them into their diet.

The health benefits of pistachios

In addition to all of their protein, fiber, and copper, pistachios tout an impressive amount of vitamin B6, thiamine, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals, according to Healthline. Additionally, their high levels of zinc, magnesium, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants are all linked to improved heart health. Did we mention studies have shown that regularly eating pistachios can aid in reducing bad cholesterol? Plus, other studies have shown pistachios can improve blood vessel dilation and blood sugar levels.

However, their tasty flavor can make them irresistible, so be sure not to overindulge in pistachios. "Aim for 1 to 1½ ounces a day. (That's about a handful.) Or, if you're more the counting sort, there are roughly 49 pistachios in an ounce," the Cleveland Clinic suggests. A trick to avoid eating too many? Registered dietitian Laura Jeffers told the Cleveland Clinic she advises buying the shelled variety of pistachios. "They'll take a little longer to eat because you'll have to pry open the shells," she explains. "The shells also are a great visual reminder of how many you've eaten. This can help to keep you on track with portion size."