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Appetite for Knowledge

Smiling Pistachio Or Happy Nut?

Crazy about nuts? If not, you should be! Feb. 26 is National Pistachio Day, providing a great reason to introduce yourself to the nutritious little nut if you aren’t already familiar with it.


Pistachios are one of the oldest edible nuts and are commonly used all over the world. They are native to Asia, particularly in Iran and Iraq. Archaeological evidence dates the association of pistachios and man as early as 6,000 BC.

Packed with Nutrition

Good things come in small packages, and the nutrition benefits of pistachios are no exception. Pistachios contain nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, fats, and dietary fiber. Key vitamins and minerals include thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. They provide an array of nutrients to help promote good health.

According to the SELF Nutrition Data web site, a one-ounce serving of pistachios equals about 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut. Pistachios contain a lower calorie content of 161 calories per ounce in comparison to other nuts.

Pistachios contain a higher amount of protein in comparison with other nuts. The amount of protein found in pistachio is 6 grams per 1 ounce, which is the highest in comparison to other nuts.

Varying Your Protein Routine

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free and sodium-free food that contains 13 grams of fat per serving; the majority (11.5 grams) comes from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fat contributes only 1.5 grams per serving. The fat content in pistachios is also the lowest as compared to other nuts. Although we need healthy fats in our diet, remember to consume in moderation to gain the most health benefits.

Each one-ounce serving has three grams of fiber to help keep your digestive tract running smoothly. One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (290mg, 8% of the Daily Value) as a half of a large banana (250 mg, 7% of the Daily Value.)

Out of all the nuts, pistachios have the highest amount of antioxidants. They even rank higher than green tea on an antioxidant scorecard created by U.S. Department of Agriculture. This green nut is bursting with two sight-saving antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin.

Smiling Pistachio

Buy pistachios with the shell on. It will take longer to eat and you can enjoy them for longer. Look for the pistachios with the shells cracked open, revealing the nut within. This feature is unique to the pistachio and is why people in the Middle East refer to the pistachio as the “smiling pistachio” and the Chinese call it the “happy nut.” Closed shelled pistachios are immature and may taste bitter.


To keep pistachios crunchy and tasting great for longer, store them in an airtight container to keep the moisture out. As with most nuts, pistachios are best stored long-term in the refrigerator or freezer to keep their oils from going rancid.


Pistachio nuts have a buttery, sweet, delicate-flavored kernel that is naturally green. The natural color of the pistachio shell ranges from tan to yellow and various shades of green.

Pistachios are available unshelled, shelled, raw, roasted, salted, and unsalted. They are available in many flavors. Salted and sweetened pistachios may not be a good choice because of their high sodium and sugar content. The ideal way is to buy unshelled nuts, as they are in their natural form.

There is no need to remove the skin from pistachios before using them. If shelled pistachios have gotten soggy yet are still good, they may be refreshed in a 200°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp.

Not only do pistachios make for a delicious snack, but they also offer nutrients and minerals great for overall health.

Enjoy pistachios by trying this below recipe!


Pistachio Granola Bars

Course: Snack
Keyword: granola bars, pistachio
Calories: 116kcal


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal optional
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce optional- add for a more moist bar


  • Roughly chop pistachios by hand or with a food processor.
  • Combine oats, rice cereal (optional), pistachios, and raisins into a large bowl.
  • In a microwave safe bowl combine peanut butter, brown sugar, applesauce (optional), and honey. Then microwave on high for 1.5 minutes.
  • Remove from the microwave and pour the peanut butter mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients.
  •  Mix thoroughly making sure all dry ingredient are covered with the peanut butter mixture.
  • Pour the mixture into an 8×10 baking sheet, press down into pan and let cool before covering with plastic wrap. You can also roll them into balls, shape them into bars, or cut them into fun shapes!
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Extension Educators:
Shelley Balls – (307) 885-3132
Denise Smith – (307) 334-3534
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

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Extension Educators:
Shelley Balls – (307) 885-3132
Denise Smith – (307) 334-3534
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming | College of Agriculture and Natural Resources | Extension

Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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