Pistachio Nutrition Facts: Calories and Health Benefits

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Pistachios

Pistachios, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Pistachios are a nutrient-packed nut that can be enjoyed both as a healthy snack or as part of a delicious recipe. Pistachios are available both in the shell (in-shell) or with their shell already removed (shelled) and they’re typically sold roasted and salted, although unsalted options are available, as well as some flavored varieties, too. Pistachios originate from the Middle East but today, 99 percent of the pistachios produced in the United States come from California.

Nutrition Facts

Pistachio Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 ounce (28 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 159 
Calories from Fat 116 
Total Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 1.7g  9%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.5g 
Monounsaturated Fat 7g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0.3mg0%
Potassium 291mg8%
Carbohydrates 7.7g3%
Dietary Fiber 3g12%
Sugars 2.2g 
Protein 5.7g 
Vitamin A 2.9% · Vitamin C 2.7%
Calcium 3% · Iron 6.2%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Carbs in Pistachios

A serving of pistachios is one ounce, or 49 nuts, which provides nearly 8 grams of carbohydrates and 12 percent of the Daily Value of fiber. Like most other nuts, pistachios have a low glycemic index. Thanks in part to their lower carbohydrate content, and in addition to their fiber and fat offerings, pistachios have been shown to help lower the increase in blood sugars after eating high carbohydrate foods like white rice, bread, and potatoes.

Fats in Pistachios

Until recently, pistachios and other nuts had a bad reputation because of their high-fat content.

But as the body of nutrition science has grown, we’ve learned as a whole that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat.

A serving of pistachios has 13 grams of fat, of which about 1.7 grams are saturated, 3.5 grams are polyunsaturated, and 7 grams are monounsaturated fats. Compared to most other tree nuts, pistachios are one of the lowest in fat.

They’re also a cholesterol-free food.

The good-for-you fats, in addition to other compounds found in pistachios, have earned nuts an FDA Qualified Health Claim stating: “Tree nuts, including pistachios, can be part of a heart-healthy diet. Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may lower the risk of heart disease.”

Protein in Pistachios

A one-ounce serving of pistachios provides almost 6 grams of protein and is considered to be part of the protein group, according to the USDA MyPlate. Compared to other tree nuts, pistachios have a higher essential amino acid ratio and the highest percentage of branched-chain amino acids. Pistachios are a great plant-based protein option for everyone, but especially those eating a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Micronutrients in Pistachios

The little green nut is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. In fact, you can “see” the nutrients through the various colors in a pistachio. The green and yellow color of the actual nut comes from lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids, which early research suggests may help to prevent age-related macular degeneration.

The thin purple skin surrounding the nut is loaded with anthocyanins, the same type of antioxidants found in grapes and cranberries.

Pistachios are also a good source of vitamin B6, phosphorus, and thiamin, and an excellent source of copper. A serving of pistachios offers more potassium (290 milligrams) than half of a large banana (240 milligrams). Pistachios also have the highest phytosterol content (214 milligrams per 100 grams) amongst nuts. Phytosterols come from plants and because they have a similar structure to cholesterol, they compete with cholesterol for absorption by the body, ultimately limiting the amount of cholesterol absorbed.

Health Benefits

Heart Health
There is a significant body of research showing that eating pistachios may have a positive effect on heart health by improving cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. A number of studies have shown that getting anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of total calories per day from pistachios significantly reduced total cholesterol and the “bad” LDL-cholesterol levels. One study showed an increase in the “good” HDL-cholesterol levels. Researchers also found a positive impact on blood pressure from eating pistachios across a number of studies. The results appear to be dose-dependent, so the more pistachios consumed, the greater the impact on blood pressure.

Preliminary research also suggests that eating pistachios may increase antioxidant concentrations (antioxidants specific to lowering LDL-cholesterol levels) as well as improve the dilation of blood vessels. A decrease in inflammation and other oxidative markers were also noted.

Weight Management
It may seem counterintuitive but eating pistachios—a high-fat, calorie-dense food—has actually been associated with either weight loss or no change in weight, along with a decrease in waist circumference and overall body fat. Other studies have shown that consuming pistachios in the shell may decrease overall calorie consumption and promote satiety.

One study fed subjects a 500-calorie deficit diet for 12 weeks. The difference in the diet was their afternoon snack—pretzels (220 calories) or pistachios (240 calories). Researchers found that while both groups lost weight due to the deficit in calories, the pistachio group had a greater decrease in BMI along with a reduction in triglyceride levels.

Another 6-month study found that eating about 20 percent of daily calories from pistachios led to a greater decrease in waistlines as well as a reduction in total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol levels, and markers of inflammation. Other similar “feeding” studies have found no change in overall weight.

A behavioral study was conducted looking at the impact an attribute unique to pistachios—the fact that they’re typically consumed in-shell—might have on how much we eat. These studies found that when pistachios were eaten in the shell, 41 percent fewer calories were consumed. It’s believed the volume the shell visually adds, along with the additional time it takes to shell the pistachios, slowed down eaters and they ate less overall.

Gestational Diabetes
A study was done on pregnant women with gestational diabetes or those with trouble managing blood sugar levels. The women in the study either ate a serving of pistachios (234 calories) or a serving of whole wheat bread (240 calories) after an overnight fast. The pregnant women who ate the pistachios had a significantly lower rise in blood sugar compared to those who ate the whole wheat bread. A similar response was also seen with insulin levels.

Blood Sugar Control
Studies have shown that eating pistachios may lower the risk of developing diabetes (as part of a healthy diet). Specifically lower glucose and insulin levels were seen after eating pistachios in those with prediabetes. Other research supports this. One study looked at the impact pistachios may help to blunt the spike in glucose levels when eaten with high carbohydrate foods such as white rice, pasta, or bread.

Gut Health
A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Medicine revealed that pistachios may be beneficial to the gut and have a stronger impact compared to almonds. Results showed that eating pistachios increased specific bacteria which helps to create inflammation-fighting short-chain fatty acids and decreased the number of lactic acid bacteria. More research needs to be done in this area to fully understand the impact pistachios and other nuts may have on the gut.

Common Questions

Why are pistachios green?
Pistachios get their green coloring from two carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin. The phytonutrients are antioxidants which have been linked to reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

How long can I store pistachios?
Pistachios, whether in-shell or already shelled, should be stored in an airtight container. They can be kept this way in the refrigerator for a year or in the freezer for up to three years. Storing them at room temperature causes the nuts to go rancid more quickly due to their high-fat content. Only keep pistachios at room temp for a few months, and for even less time in warmer temps.

Which are better for you—pistachios, almonds, or walnuts?
All of these nuts are good for you and consuming a variety of nuts is even better. This is because while nuts, in general, are a good source of protein, healthy fats and fiber, they each have unique nutritional benefits. For instance, walnuts are the highest in omega-3 fatty acids and almonds are high in vitamin E, while most other nuts contain much less. Pistachios are unique in that they’re in the shell (which may slow consumption and reduce calorie intake) and they contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

One of the simplest ways to enjoy pistachios is as a snack on their own. Because they don’t need to be refrigerated, they’re the perfect snack for on-the-go. Here are some other ideas on how to enjoy pistachios:

  • Throw chopped pistachios on your yogurt or morning oatmeal.
  • Use them as a crunchy topping for your salads in place of croutons.
  • Add pistachios to a cheese or charcuterie board in place of walnuts or almonds.
  • Pair pistachios with a piece of fruit for your afternoon snack. They fiber, fat, and protein will keep you satisfied.

Pistachios also make a great ingredient in recipes offering a salty and satisfying crunch. Swapping out bread crumbs and using pistachios as a crust for baked fish or chicken is a healthy and gluten-free option that is easy to pull off in the kitchen. Pistachios also have a place at the table when it comes to dessert. Make this Strawberry Pistachio Pavlova as your next dessert.

Allergies and Interactions

A tree nut allergy, which includes walnut, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts, and more, is one of the most common food allergies amongst children and adults.

If you’re allergic to one tree nut, it’s likely you’re allergic to others. Peanuts are not a tree nut but a legume. An allergic reaction to tree nuts like pistachios can result in an anaphylactic shock and even a small amount can cause a reaction. 

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources