Pistachios are a naturally heart-healthy super snack that chefs and consumers are going nuts over.
Traditionally used in rice dishes, stuffing, ice cream and pastries, the current trend points to pistachios as a key ingredient in salads and main dishes.
The most recent nationally published study conducted by nutrition scientists at Penn State University hows that eating pistachios daily has cardio protective effects due to the rich antioxidant content which may help lower oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Pistachios are also naturally cholesterol free and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.
Judy Hirigoyen, director of global marketing for the American Pistachio Growers, said the surge of popularity of American pistachios is primarily due to global promotion of this nutrition research.
"Consumers are excited when they learn they can get the nutritional benefits of a tree but and because of the lower fat content can consume 49 nuts per single serving," Hirigoyen said.
People around the world recognize American quality and are becoming more aware of the availability of pistachios from California, Arozina, and New Mexico.
"When you are looking for a healthy snack that is beneficial for your body and provides a decent quantity of food to deal with your hunger pangs, i think consumers are finding a lot of value in pistachios," Hirigoyen said.
The latest dietary guidelines for American published by the federal government encourage increased consumption of plant-based proteins. But if the key to including nuts in your diet without adding extra calories is portion control.
"When you want something on the go, pistachios not only deliver the phytonutrients and macronutrients that they’re so well-known for, but also are a great protein source that is particularly good for people who care about fitness, heart health and weight management,” Hirigoyen said.
According to Hirigoyen, the American pistachio industry is at a tipping pint; this tree nut is the fourth-largest crop exported by California.
“Along with increased production we are seeing our efforts in publicizing the nutritional benefits around the world starting to take hold,” Hirigoyen said.
If you want to add taste, color and crunch to your meals, toss in some pistachios! For more information and recipes, visit www.thegreennut.org.