The biggest problem with pistachios is they are so delicious it’s easy to eat far too many in one go. But what happens if you really do eat too many pistachios? And what about the shells, will anything nasty happen if you eat one of those? Don’t worry! All of your questions and a lot more besides will be answered here.
What You'll Learn Today
- Is It OK To Eat A Lot Of Pistachios?
- Benefits Of Eating The Right Amount Of Pistachios
- How Many Pistachios Should You Eat In A Day?
- Is It OK To Eat Pistachio Shells?
- What Happens If You Eat A Closed Pistachio?
Is It OK To Eat A Lot Of Pistachios?
The good news is that when eaten in moderation, pistachios are actually good for you! But then, if you’re like me, and find their delicious saltiness truly hard to resist, then you might wonder just how many you can eat in one sitting.
For starters, I eat nuts almost every day, not just because I love them but due to their health benefits. I prefer to reserve pistachios as a special and occasional treat.
If you do eat a lot of pistachios, particularly the processed, high-salt kind, there can be some concerns.
The Negative Effects of Eating Too Many Pistachios
1. High Blood Pressure
Most of us know that eating too much salt can raise our blood pressure, and the same will be true if you shovel endless handfuls of salted pistachios down on a regular basis.
This can result in blurred vision, light-headedness, fainting, and confusion. More worryingly, it can raise blood sodium levels enough to contribute to cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension.
2. Fiber Overload
There’s a good amount of fiber in pistachios which, on the whole, is a good thing. It only becomes problematic if you eat them to excess, at which point the fiber can start causing some gut issues such as abdominal and intestinal pain, cramps, and diarrhea.
Pistachios contain a sugar called Fructan that some people have an allergy to. This may result in problems with your gastrointestinal tract.
Other than a Fructan, other components of nuts can cause allergies. In some people, nut allergy can be a life-threatening problem. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.
If you ever experience nasal congestion, cramping, nausea, vomiting, itchiness of your mouth, or difficulty swallowing after eating nuts, get urgent medical advice.
The first time an allergy occurs, symptoms may be quite mild, but subsequently, they could become a lot more severe.
4. Kidney Stones
Pistachios contain compounds called oxalates. These can bind to calcium and potassium, which may cause kidney stones to form.
Methionine is another chemical found in pistachios that can convert into a substance called cysteine, which may produce cystine kidney stones.
5. Increased Weight
Generally, pistachios are known to help with weight loss rather than weight gain. However, they do contain a lot of fat and some carbohydrates. When enough is eaten, the scales will tip (every pun intended), resulting in weight gain.
While nuts are generally associated with their positive effects on keeping cancer away, eating too many roasted pistachios, or other roasted nuts may, in fact, have a carcinogenic effect.
This is because when nuts are roasted at too high a temperature, the oils in the nuts start forming acrylamide which is a carcinogen capable of causing the development of cancer cells in the body.
7. Low Testosterone
Phytosterols are a plant compound found in relatively large amounts in pistachios. Usually, these are beneficial as they help regulate blood cholesterol levels and can improve erectile function.
However, in high enough quantities, they can also lead to testosterone levels declining.
Benefits Of Eating The Right Amount Of Pistachios
Now that we’ve looked at what eating too many pistachios could do, let’s bring the focus back to just how amazing they are when eaten in moderation.
In this video, you can see some of the great benefits of eating pistachios:
There is more melatonin in pistachios than in any other nut. Melatonin is a regulatory hormone essential for controlling your sleep cycle and can help improve the quality of your sleep.
By eating a small handful of pistachios two to three hours before bed, your melatonin levels will be naturally increased.
Vitamin C and E are both found in raw pistachios in good quantities, and these two vitamins help to nourish your skin and help prevent oxidative stress and cell damage, which may keep you looking younger.
Unfortunately, because vitamin C is so unstable, it is destroyed by heat, so roasting the pistachios removes the vitamin C.
You can eat the nuts raw to avoid vitamin C loss, but they should be soaked for 12 hours first to remove some of the phytic acids. This substance binds to minerals, making them bio-unavailable so our bodies cannot absorb them. The link to this article gives a huge insight into this fascinating topic.
3. Weight Loss
Overindulging in pretty much any food will cause weight gain, but eat just the right number of pistachios, and they can be beneficial to weight loss.
This is because they are high in fiber and protein, which may help you feel fuller quicker. Eating an ounce of pistachios around an hour before your main meal could help you eat less.
Pistachios also have the least calories of all nuts, but keep your daily intake to no more than a quarter of a cup daily.
Pistachios have a low glycemic index and, when broken down, do not convert into very much sugar. High carbohydrate foods such as white bread or pasta convert to a lot of sugar which will raise blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar, called hyperglycemia, triggers the release of insulin to protect the body from this sugar. The more frequently high blood sugar levels are reached, the more the body becomes insulin resistant, which can eventually lead to diabetes.
A maximum of a quarter of a cup of pistachios daily is fine for a diabetic person to eat.
Some kinds of fats are called “healthy” and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Saturated and trans fats are “unhealthy” and must be avoided as much as possible.
Pistachios contain only good, healthy fats – unless they are overheated! When roasted correctly, there is nothing to worry about.
Eating enough good fats can help the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in your body and increase the amounts of good HDL cholesterol.
How Many Pistachios Should You Eat In A Day?
Eat no more than a quarter of a cup of shelled pistachios daily. If possible, try and find ones that are unsalted and raw and roast them yourself at home. You can find out how in this article.
Is It OK To Eat Pistachio Shells?
Usually, you will find salted pistachio nuts with their shells still on at your local store. These taste delicious, even if you do have the annoyance of having to remove the shells first.
But what happens if I accidentally eat one of the shells, or are the shells actually edible?
The answer is no, it’s not OK to eat these hard pistachio shells for several reasons:
- Our bodies cannot digest them
- They can hurt your gums
- They may damage your digestive tract because they can be very sharp
- There is the potential for them to be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella
What About Eating Fresh Pistachio Shells?
Soft, fresh pistachio shells with their pink coloration are actually edible. They contain antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals in the body, which could otherwise contribute to diseases such as cancer and heart disorders.
They are also said to be good for helping ease diarrhea and soothing the stomach.
If you suffer from halitosis – also known as bad breath, then chewing fresh pistachio shells can release an oil that is therapeutic for the mouth and may help get rid of the smell.
You should never eat hard pistachio shells!
What If You Eat A Hard Pistachio Shell By Accident?
Accidentally ingesting a single pistachio shell by accident is unlikely to do you any great harm unless you are incredibly unlucky.
The things that can happen are the sharp edges of the shell cutting your gums or it becoming stuck in your throat. It could also potentially cause damage to your digestive tract.
Try to be careful when eating pistachios that still have their shells on. You must completely remove all of the shell before putting each nut into your mouth.
What Happens If You Eat A Closed Pistachio?
It can be very disappointing when eating pistachios to find ones that have closed shells, preventing you from getting to the nuts inside.
Don’t give up, when you sit down to enjoy your tasty treat, take a nutcracker with you. That way you can enjoy every last one.
Luckily unlike closed mussel shells, closed pistachio shells don’t indicate there’s anything wrong with the nut inside.
Other opening methods include using a rolling pin and a chopping board so you can give them a gentle bash. It’s safest to wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel first to prevent them from flying across the room!
Like almost everything in life, pistachios are best when enjoyed in moderation. Overindulgence can lead to negative effects you’d rather avoid.
By keeping the quantity you consume down to no more than a quarter of a cup a day, you should only reap the benefits and enjoyment of eating these delicious nuts.
There are many more interesting articles for you to read about pistachio nuts and trees. Find out more here.