The pistachio harvest in California, the number one producer of the nuts, runs August to early October and is just wrapping up. Below are some facts about the pistachio you might not have known.
In the first century A.D. Emperor Vitellius introduced Rome to the pistachio. Apicius, Rome’s 5th-century A.D. recipe book, and that era’s version of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, includes pistachios.
That which we call a pistachio is known as the “smiling nut” in Iran and the “happy nut” in China. They’re also known as the “green almond.”
The nuts are also the original prehistoric snack. One of the oldest flowering nut trees, humans have eaten pistachio nuts for at least 9,000 years. Plus, pistachios are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11).
Pistachios are the “colorful” nut, owing their green and purple hue to antioxidants.
Research suggests that as one of the only in-shell snack nuts, pistachios may help slow consumption and the empty shells offer a visual cue, potentially reducing calorie intake. A preliminary behavioral eating study suggests that in-shell snackers ate 41 percent fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts. This effect is known as “The Pistachio Principle.”
Pistachios are a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus. They’re an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper, and manganese.
Among its “kissing cousins”: pistachios are related to the mango and the spice sumac.
Perhaps the original royal nut, the Queen of Sheba loved pistachios. In fact, she demanded that the entire region’s pistachio harvest be set aside for her.
Scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.