That old adage “it takes two to tango” doesn’t just apply to people. In order to grow pistachios, orchards must have both male and female trees. One male pistachio tree provides enough pollen for up to a dozen female trees to produce a nut crop. Talk about prolific.
And talk about beneficial. Pistachios, which have been cultivated since the Bronze Age, pack plenty of health perks perfect for older adults.
Pistachio Nut Nutrition and Health Benefits
1. Pistachios make for better sex.
As it turns out, eating as little as 100 grams of pistachios a day — about a handful — can actually help in the bedroom. A Turkish study found that men experiencing erectile dysfunction saw significant improvement when they ate pistachios every day for three weeks. So be sure to keep a bowl on the nightstand.
2. Pistachios promote heart health.
These little nuts are loaded with antioxidants. Eating a serving of pistachios a day (that’s about 49 shelled pistachios kernels) is enough to get important phytochemicals coursing through your veins, all the while lowering oxidized LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad one). In fact, among nuts, pistachios contain the highest levels of antioxidants, along with other heart-friendly nutrients, such as potassium and magnesium.
It doesn’t stop there. Pistachios also lower systolic blood pressure. People who consume them have fewer risks for metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
3. Pistachios keep bones strong.
The list of nutrients in pistachios is long, but calcium and vitamin K, both critical for maintaining healthy bone density, really stand out. Just one cup of pistachios provides 132 milligrams of calcium and 16.2 micrograms of vitamin K. That works out to more than 10% of the recommended daily intake of each for older adults.
(This doesn’t give you free rein to eat a container of shelled pistachios in one sitting: a portion size of pistachios is still only a small handful, or about 1/4 cup, the equivalent of over 300 calories.)
How to Add Pistachios to Your Diet
Pistachio butter is a great alternative to peanut butter on a slice of ancient grain bread in the morning. Pistachios are also the perfect stand-in for pine nuts in pesto sauce, which is great on pasta, as a sandwich spread and even drizzled into soups. Sprinkling a few pistachios on top of yogurt or salad adds more protein and crunch to our favorite snacks and sides. Look for US-grown shelled pistachios that haven’t been bleached or dyed.