Pistachio, Magic Nut from the Near East

In honor of National Pistachio Day, here is a piece I wrote about the magic nut two years ago:

Pistachios are the new health nut. Research from the University of Toronto shows that they may reduce the risk of diabetes by decreasing the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. “Pistachios are high in protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fat,” explains study author Cyril Kendall, PhD, “all of which contribute to the slowing of carbohydrate absorption in the body.”

Pistachios are delicious roasted and salted, as well as in desserts and pastries. In the U.S., pistachio-studded halvah was once only available in Brooklyn’s Middle Eastern neighborhood–I used to buy it on the famous Atlantic Avenue–but it can now be found at markets around the U.S. Of course, the ever-popular baklava-type pastries from Turkey and Persia, where pistachios originate, usually contain them mixed with aromatic honey.

Research has shown that eating 2 to 3 ounces of pistachios a day can help significantly raise your level of good cholesterol (HDL). Pistachios are full of vitamin B6 and copper, too, which help to increase your energy.

Pistachios salted and unshelled are available at a good price from Sam’s Club. I cannot remember the brand-name–it could be Sunkist–in any case, they are Californian. They’re delightfully easy to eat as a snack, and most welcome on party buffets. For baking, try to find unsalted varieties of these magic nuts.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007