The pistachio, a member of the cashew family, is a small tree originating from Central Asia and the Middle East. The tree produces seeds that are widely consumed as food. Pistacia vera often is confused with other species in the genus Pistacia that are also known as pistachio.
As our cells grow older, they accumulate oxidative damage. This can be related to the presence of free radicals, which can cause considerable damage to cells. A class of molecules called antioxidants can sweep up these free radicals and reverse some of the cellular damage.
Pistachios are an excellent source of antioxidants, including lutein, beta-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol (Penn State News, 2010). Beta-carotene serves as a precursor to vitamin A, while gamma-tocopherol is used as a precursor to vitamin E. Both vitamin A and vitamin E themselves have very high antioxidant activity, making pistachios a great way to reap some of the oxidative damage-fighting effects of these vitamins. In a randomized study of the effects of pistachios, researchers found that incorporating these nuts into the diet was associated with lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol (Penn State News, 2010), possibly because of the antioxidants present in pistachios.
Pistachios are a Source of the Mineral Phosphorus
Phosphorus is an element that is essential for our proper physiological functioning. Not only does phosphorus make a structural component of all cells, but it also regulates a variety of physiological reactions (Calvo, 2014). Getting enough phosphorus ensures that your cells can continue to produce energy and also strengthens the bones. A 1-ounce serving of pistachios contains 137 mg of phosphorus, 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient (Self Nutrition Data, n.d.).