Go nuts, celebrate pistachios on National Pistachio Day, Feb. 26

(BPT) - Good things really do come in small packages. And when it comes to your health, pistachios pack a powerful punch: They help you manage your weight, may help reduce blood pressure and a study published in the “International Journal of Impotence Research” shows they may even help with erectile function. Here are three big reasons why you should unshell and celebrate your health with a handful.

The power of pistachios

Pistachios are a great snack chock-full of vitamins and nutrients including antioxidants, beta carotene, fiber, glutamine, potassium, phytosterols, zeaxanthin and B6. “You really can’t go wrong with pistachios,” says director of sports nutrition at the University of Southern California, Becci Twombley. “With six grams of protein in every 160-calorie serving, pistachios are a protein front-runner compared to 160 calories of other common snacks.” In addition, pistachios have more nuts per serving (49) than any other tree nut.

Performance food for athletes

Whether you’re an elite athlete in training or a casual fitness buff, what you eat will affect your performance.

“As an athlete, your body needs the right carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and fluids,” says Twombley. Pistachios are a great pre- and post-workout snack because they contain a good source of lean protein, the right type of fat and electrolytes such as potassium.

Green goodness

Their taste is unbeatable. They can be enjoyed right out of the bag, or to jazz them up, you can season them right in the shell, like these Saffron and Vanilla Pistachios by Chef Grant MacPherson.

Saffron and Vanilla Pistachios

Ingredients:

1 pound American pistachios, in-shell

1.5 ounces Spanish saffron, steeped in cold water

2 vanilla beans, scraped

2 tablespoons canola oil

Sea salt to taste 

Directions:

Warm canola oil in roasting pan or wok on your stove top, add pistachios and lightly toast. Add saffron, with some liquid to coat the pistachios. Add the vanilla bean scrapings and stir to incorporate; season with sea salt to taste. Remove from heat and serve warm in the dish of your choice.

“Pistachios also appeal to those with a sweet tooth,” says Judy Hirigoyen, director of Global Marketing at American Pistachio Growers. “Whether it’s ice cream, cake or tarts, pistachio- inspired desserts will win over anyone you prepare them for.”

In addition to flavoring for premium snacking, American Pistachio Growers have a wealth of recipes developed by renowned chefs. Visit www.americanpistachios.org to see recipes like Pistachio Dusted Roast Salmon with a Light Honey Glaze by Chef Jesse Brune.

For more information about the health benefits of pistachios and for recipes, visit www.AmericanPistachios.org. American Pistachio Growers is a volunteer trade organization representing members who are pistachio growers, processors and industry partners in California, Arizona and New Mexico.