American Pistachio Growers Celebrate World Pistachio Day with Good News

Just a week after the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), American Pistachio Growers, the trade association representing more than 625 pistachio grower members in California, Arizona and New Mexico is celebrating the good news today – on World Pistachio Day.

People who eat tree nuts on a daily basis, including pistachios, are making healthy choices, according to the report. The recommended guidelines emphasize a diet higher in plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seafood to lower the risk of chronic diseases, particularly those associated with obesity. These recommendations are consistent with the findings of numerous science-based studies on the role of tree nuts, including pistachios, in preventing obesity and providing other health benefits. The report provides the scientific evidence for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are expected to be published by the end of 2015.

About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and about half of adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases. Poor dietary and physical activity patterns are associated with these conditions. Pistachios have been shown to play a positive role in weight management, blood sugar management, heart health and as a post exercise snack.

“It’s no wonder that more than 1/3 of Americans are obese. We’re eating too much salt, saturated fat, refined grains and added sugar resulting in excess weight, unhealthy blood sugar levels and deficiencies in calcium, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, D, E, and C,” says Cheryl Forberg, Nutrition Ambassador to American Pistachio Growers.

Forberg continues, “Thankfully, the new guidelines suggest more whole foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, nuts, such as pistachios, and seeds to offset our nutrient needs and promote healthier weights and blood sugar levels.” One of the nation’s leading advisors on health and nutrition, Cheryl is a New York Times bestselling author, James Beard award-winning chef and the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

Pistachios a Source of Important Shortfall Nutrients

Pistachios can help consumers meet a minimum of shortfall nutrients identified by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee while limiting overconsumption of sodium and saturated fatty acids. These nutrients include vitamins A, D & C, folate, calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and iron for adolescent and premenopausal women. Of these, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, potassium and iron are considered of public health concern.

A 1-ounce 160 calorie serving of pistachios provides:

  • 290 mg potassium (8% Daily Value)
  • 3 g total fiber (12 % Daily Value) making pistachios a “good” source of fiber
  • 6% Daily Value of iron
  • 8% Daily Value for magnesium

In addition, unsalted pistachios are a sodium-free food. Pistachios provide 13 g of total fat primarily monounsaturated fatty acids (7 g) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (4 g) with about 1.5 g saturated fatty acids.

Three USDA-Recognized Healthy Diet Patterns Include Nuts

The Committee encouraged consumers to adopt dietary patterns low in saturated fat, added sugars and sodium. These include Healthy U.S.-Style, Healthy Vegetarian and Healthy Mediterranean diets. Such patterns are:

  • Rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts such as pistachios
  • Moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products
  • Lower in red and processed meat
  • Low in sugar sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains

 

About American Pistachio Growers

            American Pistachio Growers (APG) is a non-profit voluntary agricultural trade association representing more than 625 grower members in California, Arizona and New Mexico. APG is governed by a democratically-elected board of directors and is funded by growers and independent processors with the shared goal of increasing global awareness of nutritious American-grown pistachios. For more information, visit AmericanPistachios.org.

Why Almonds Belong in Your Diet

Almond Nutrition

Source: Alissa Fleck, Demand Media

Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack with plenty of health benefits. Loaded with minerals, they are also among the healthiest of tree nuts. Just a handful of nutrient-rich almonds a day helps promote heart health and prevent weight gain, and it may even help fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Nutrition

Eating about 23 almonds a day is an easy way to incorporate many crucial nutrients into your diet. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, minerals and potassium. Additionally, almonds are a significant source of protein and fiber, while being naturally low in sugar. One 23-almond serving packs 13 grams of healthy unsaturated fats, 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol or salt. Of all tree nuts, almonds rank highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin content by weight. There are 160 calories in 23 almonds. While many of these calories come from fat, it is primarily the healthy unsaturated fats and not the unhealthy saturated kind.

Almond Hull-split
Almond Hull-split

Heart Health

According to the FDA, eating 1.5 ounces a day of most nuts, like almonds, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Many of the nutrients in almonds help contribute to increased heart health. For one, almonds are rich in magnesium, which is critical in preventing heart attacks and hypertension. Several clinical studies have also shown almonds can be effective in reducing bad cholesterol and preserving healthy cholesterol, which plays a major role in heart health.

Weight Maintenance

Nuts, like almonds, are also beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber, protein and fat content of almonds means it only takes a handful to keep you feeling full and satisfied so you won’t have the urge to overeat. According to “Fitness” magazine, the magnesium in almonds helps regulate blood sugar, which is key in reducing food cravings. Almonds may even be able to block the body’s absorption of calories, making them the ultimate weight-loss-friendly snack. Because almonds are naturally high in calories, it’s important to limit your serving size to the recommended 1 ounce, or 23 nuts.

Other Health Benefits

Almonds may also promote gastrointestinal health and even combat diabetes. The high fiber content of almonds gives them prebiotic properties, which contributes to health in the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics are non-digestible food substances, which serve as food for the good bacteria in the intestinal tract and help maintain a healthy balance. According to a study by the American Diabetes Association, a Mediterranean diet incorporating nuts, such as almonds, helps fight diabetes even without significant changes to weight, physical activity or caloric intake.