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Pistachios – The Skinny Nut


After a long plane ride this week, I realized I had taken down several handfuls of nuts without even giving it much thought.  When all was said and done, I’d probably consumed 3 times the amount I would suggest any one person eat in a sitting. My mindful snacking principle had gone out the window!  I preach the gospel of not counting calories, believing if it’s whole and healthy, you shouldn’t have to, but in the case of snacking those calories catch up to you quick.

My plane ride over-eating got me thinking about mindful snacking. What if I had followed “The Pistachio Principle” instead?  (Yes, it’s a real thing!)

Developed by Dr. James Painter, “The Pistachio Principle” is smart calorie reduction without calorie restriction – it is one of the many ways we can alter our environmental cues, allowing us to become more mindful and satisfied with our food choices. Dr. Painter has conducted behavioral nutritional studies which suggest that consuming in‐shell pistachios may help to slow consumption while empty shells may serve as a visual cue about how much has been eaten.

Dr. Painter’s studies found that people who consumed in‐shell pistachios ate 41 percent fewer calories than those who consumed pistachios without shells

I know how good pistachios are and sometimes that visual cue isn’t enough to stop me from just a few more. Luckily, pistachios are very forgiving because like ‘the skinny nut’ nickname suggests, pistachios are one of the lowest calorie nuts. A 1 ounce serving (approx. 49 kernels) contains about 158 calories.

In addition to being an ideal mindful snack, pistachio’s also serve up some impressive nutritional benefit:

  • Increases absorption of nutrients.  Pistachio’s have high bioaccessibility, meaning the nutrients absorbed from pistachios is high, because the antioxidants in pistachios are released during digestion.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Pistachio’s moderate amount of monounsaturated fat makes them a protector of the heart, a fighter of cardiovascular disease, and a cholesterol reducer. Pistachios’ high level of phytosterols and fiber reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the diet, lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Revitalizes and nourishes the skin and helps protect against skin cancer.  Pistachios are excellent sources of vitamin-E; especially rich in gamma-tocopherol, which is essential for maintaining the integrity of cell membranes of mucosa and skin. In addition, vitamin E works as scavengers of harmful cancer causing free oxygen radicals.
  • Improves eye health and help prevent macular degeneration.  Lutein and xeaxanthin are two amino acids found in pistachios.  These are both important for vision and age related macular degeneration.
  • Boosts your immune system.  Pistachios are also a rich source of manganese. This powerful antioxidant protects your cells from free-radical attacks and provides antioxidants which strengthen your immune system against viral infections and cancer.
  • Detoxifies. Pistachio are a good source of fiber and cleansing to the colon, liver, blood, and kidneys.
  • Protects against cancer. The omega-6 fatty acid, Linoleic Acid is richly found in pistachios and helps to protect you against cancer and improve your body’s ability to heal itself.
  • Aids in weight loss.  The nutrient rich nut curbs appetitie and will keep your energy up throughout the day.

Ready to start mindfully snacking?  When choosing your pistachios go for roasted and unsalted options and start shelling away!



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