What are pistachio nuts?

A popular ingredient in desserts and puddings, pistachios or “green nuts” add a splash of colour to dishes; these edible seeds of the Pistacia veratree are a source of healthy fats, protein, fibre and protective antioxidants.


Discover our full range of health benefit guides and find out more about the health benefits of nuts. Also check out some of our delicious pistachio recipes from our chicken & pistachio salad to our pistachio, courgette & lemon cake.

Nutritional profile of pistachio nuts

A 30g serving of pistachio provides:

  • 169 kcals/706KJ
  • 6.1g Protein
  • 13.6g Fat
  • 1.7g Saturated fat
  • 7.1g Mono-unsaturated fat
  • 4.1g Poly-unsaturated fat
  • 5.4g Carbohydrates
  • 3.1g Fibre
  • 308mg Potassium
  • 1.18g Iron
  • 1.37mg Vitamin E

Top 5 health benefits of pistachio nuts

Shelled pistachio nuts scattered in a heap

1. Antioxidant-rich

The pigments that give pistachios their unique green and purple colour have protective antioxidant properties. Of all the tree nuts, pistachios are particularly high in these compounds with only walnuts and pecans providing more.

2. Heart-healthy

Compared to most nuts, pistachios have a lower fat and calorie content and contain the highest amount of potassium. They’re especially rich in phytosterols, all of which support cardiovascular health.

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Pistachios are also a useful source of the amino acid L-arginine, which we convert to the blood pressure-lowering compound, nitric oxide.

3. May support eye health

Pistachios are the only nut to provide reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that play an important role in protecting the eyes as we age.

4. May support weight management

Pistachios may be a useful inclusion in a weight management programme, as well as having a lower calorie and fat content than most other nuts, they also have a reduced net metabolizable energy content– which means we don’t digest and absorb all of their calorific value. Being rich in fibre they also help keep us full and satiated.

These attributes were demonstrated in a study of overweight adults who reported reductions in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference combined with favourable changes to dietary habits.

5. May manage blood sugar levels

Pistachios are rich in fibre, healthy fats and protective antioxidants so it’s not unreasonable to expect them to be a useful addition to a balanced diet. Research on healthy adults also suggests adding pistachios to a high-carb meal may lower our overall blood sugar response.

Similar benefits have been seen in studies examining the blood sugar effects of pistachio nuts on those with type 2 diabetes. All of which suggests that as well as having a low glycaemic value(GI), pistachio nuts offer other valuable blood sugar management benefits.

Are pistachio nuts safe for everyone?

People with an allergy to tree nuts should avoid pistachios. Allergy symptoms normally develop within minutes, and you should see your GP if you experience an adverse reaction. However, if this develops into a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, it is a medical emergency and immediate help should be sought.

Young children, some older people and those with a problem swallowing should avoid whole nuts due to the risk of choking.

Visit the NHS website to read more about allergies.

Pistachio recipes to try

Pistachio & cranberry cookies
Pistachio cupcakes
Pistachio, courgette & lemon cake
Sizzled sprouts with pistachios & pomegranates
Pistachio & black cherry bakewell tart
Pistachio lamb koftas
Pistachio barfi

Discover more pistachio recipes in our collection.

More health benefits guides

The health benefits of walnuts
The health benefits of cinnamon
The health benefits of oranges
The health benefits of chestnuts
The health benefits of almonds

This article was published on 13 December 2021.

Kerry Torrens is a registered nutritionist (MBANT) with a post-graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.


All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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