There are a variety of great ways to enjoy the protein power of pistachios.

Eat nuts as a healthy source of protein, according to research published by the Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers looked at the diets of more than 37,000 men and 83,000 women to see if they could find a link between diet and increased risk of death from heart disease or cancer. They found that replacing one serving of red meat with one serving of nuts was linked to a 19 percent lower risk of premature death or total mortality. The study reinforces the role of nuts as an important part of a healthy diet.

In addition to the Harvard study, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) encourages eating more plant-based foods, which has brought nuts into the spotlight as a great choice for protein, fiber and healthy fats. In fact, the DGA includes nuts on its list of “foods and nutrients to increase” for disease prevention and overall good health. Additionally, the DGA includes nuts as an example in its suggestion to choose a variety of protein-rich foods.

“Protein is used most efficiently when consumed throughout the day,” says Becci Twombley, RD, CSSD, Nutrition Director for the UCLA Bruins, who is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. “Adding protein-rich snacks like one ounce of pistachios in between meals will help the body to build muscle more effectively.”

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are well aware of nuts as a valuable snack, accomplishing two goals: adding protein to their diets while satisfying hunger pangs between meals. The USA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Teams have identified pistachios as their “Official Snack.”

“You really can’t go wrong with pistachios,” says Twombley. “With six grams of protein in every 160-calorie serving, pistachios are a protein front-runner compared to 160 calories of other convenience snacks.”

Pistachios provide a new twist for nut lovers. They can be enjoyed right out of the bag or prepared in a creative way, like these flavored pistachios developed by Chef Grant MacPherson. He suggests experimenting with your own seasoning to customize your snacks.

For more information about the health benefits of pistachios and to find tasty recipes, visit

Pistachios with Black and White Peppercorns


4 tablespoons canola oil

1 pound American pistachios, in shell

1⁄4 ounce ground black peppercorns

1⁄4 ounce ground white peppercorns

Sea salt to taste


Warm the canola oil in a stovetop pan, add the pistachios and toast evenly. Add the ground black and white pepper, coat evenly and continue toasting; season with sea salt to taste. Remove from heat and serve warm in the dish of your choice.

There are a variety of great ways to enjoy the protein power of pistachios.


*Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Schulze MB, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Apr 9; 172(7):555-63. (NAPS)