Going nuts for World Pistachio Day on Feb. 26? Help celebrate the day and reflect on the amazing history and modern day health benefits of this wonderful nut.
Did you know the word pistachio comes from a mix of Persian and Latin? Originating in western Asia, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees with evidence suggesting that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C. Pistachios were first planted in California in the 1930s and it took nearly 10 years of careful research and breeding before the California pistachio was finally perfected. Today, California produces more than 550 million pounds of pistachios each year, making it a leading producer of pistachios worldwide.
Pistachios contain only 3-4 calories per nut – a reduced serving of 30 nuts adds up to about 100 calories. They also offer vital nutrients, including more than 30 different vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytonutrients, making them a great guilt free snack.
Going Nuts for Pistachios Across the Globe
In China, the pistachio is known as the "happy nut" because it looks like its smiling.
Often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year, pistachios are a symbol of health, happiness and good fortune. While China leads the world in total pistachio consumption at 200 million pounds per year, Israel has the world's highest per capita consumption of pistachios as 85 percent of Israelis eat nuts and seeds at least once a month.
In India, pistachios are a major part of the population's diet and are used in a popular saffron pistachio drink. During Diwali, the Hindu New Year, and family occasions like weddings, pistachios are gifted as a symbol of love and good wishes. At one time, pistachios were considered a "hot food" and typically enjoyed during the cold winter months, but now the nut is enjoyed all year round. In Australia, during the hot summer months, many cafes near the beaches serve creamy Australian yogurt topped with shaved pistachios, as a refreshing post-swim snack.
Pistachios are a premium snack in Mexico, and enjoyed in social settings with friends or while watching soccer games. To give the snack some spice, many throw the pistachios in a bowl and add hot sauce. In France, where "snack" is not part of the vocabulary, pistachios are served with an "aperitif," a beverage served to stimulate the appetite before a late-afternoon meal.
In Korea, "Daeboreum" or "Full Moon" day is celebrated on February 24 of each lunar year. On this holiday, friends and families gather together to drive evil spirits away with the sounds made by cracking open pistachios. In Brazil, sharing pistachios can be considered good luck and seen as a way of showing endearment.
While many eat pistachios purely for their delicious taste and satisfying crunch, the pistachio is also stacked full of nutritional goodness. Pistachios are a smart snack for healthy eaters, and make for a crave-able healthy habit. The little nut is mighty in nutrition with fiber, protein, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Plus, pistachios offer 49 kernels per 30 grams – that's more than most other nuts (for the same 30 grams, you only get 14 walnut halves or 18 cashews). With so many reasons to enjoy pistachios, it's no wonder the whole world gets together to celebrate them on this special day.
PistachioHealth.com is the leading online source of information on the health and nutrition benefits of pistachios. The site is offered in ten languages and includes research updates and educational materials for both consumers and health professionals. "Like" PistachioHealth.com on Facebook and follow @PistachioHealth on Twitter. For more information about the health benefits of pistachios, visit: www.PistachioHealth.com.