Pistachio seeds were a common food as early as 6750 BC. Remains of the Atlantic pistachio and pistachio seed along with nut-cracking tools were discovered by archaeologists at the Gesher Benot Ya'aqov site in Israel's Hula Valley, dated to 780,000 years ago. The seed, commonly thought of as a nut, is a culinary nut, not a botanical nut. When they split open while on the tree, there is an audible pop.
The United States is currently the world leader in pistachio
(Pistacia vera) production and second is Iran. Exports more than
doubled during the past six years from 100 million pounds to almost
270 million pounds. Chine is the largest importer of pistachios.
One ounce of pistachios provides:
- More dietary fiber than 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli
- Six grams of protein – the same amount as 1 ounce of soybeans
- Seven grams of monounsaturated and four grams of polyunsaturated
fats, which are considered heart healthy
- Less than 2 grams of saturated fat
- As much potassium as 1/2 of a large banana.
Pistachios contain more potassium than any other nut.
They contain only three to four calories each.
Pistachios help maintain healthy blood glucose control, and tend
to minimize a rise in blood glucose levels when added to certain
high carbohydrate meals.
Pistachios have four hundred times the amount of vitamin A as
Pistachio trees, a member of the cashew family, take from five to
seven years to produce nuts and are biennial bearers, with a heavy
crop one year and a smaller crop the next.
California, Arizona, and New Mexico represent 100 percent of the
US commercial pistachio production.
Eating pistachios may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk
of cancer. Pistachios are an excellent source of phytosterols,
plant compounds that have been found to decrease levels of LDL
(bad cholesterol), and they are packed with cancer-fighting
antioxidants (including the carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein,
which gives the pistachio kernel its distinct green color.
Red pistachios do not exist in nature. Pistachio importers used to
dye the nuts red to hide blemishes resulting from traditional