Quote: "Often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year, pistachios are a symbol of health, happiness and good fortune."
February 26th is World Pistachio Day, so why not take a moment to reflect on the amazing history and modern day health benefits of this wonderful nut
Originating from the Middle East, 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. From this point it took nearly 10 years of careful research and breeding before the California pistachio - also known as the Kerman variety - was finally perfected. Today, California produces more than 400 million pounds of pistachios each year, making it a leading producer of pistachios worldwide.
Going Nuts for Pistachios Across the Globe
In China, the pistachio is known as the "happy nut" because it looks like it's 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 120 million pounds per year; Israel, with 7 million eaters consuming 9 million pounds, is the leader per capita for pistachio consumption.
In India, pistachios are a major part of the population's diet and are used in the popular saffron pistachio drink, Shree Guruji Kesar Pista Sharbat. Pistachios are considered a "hot food" and are believed to help keep the body warm and are typically enjoyed during the cold winter months. Conversely, in Russia pistachios are enjoyed as a popular snack to accompany beer during the warm summer months.
In France, where "snack" is not part of the vocabulary, pistachios are served as part of the occasion known as aperitif, a light beverage and snack served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
Pistachios are enjoyed around the world so celebrate with your fellow nut lovers in many different languages: die Pistazie in German, pistaches in French, pista in Hindi and pistache in Spanish.
Celebrate the Nutritional Benefits of California Pistachios
While many eat pistachios purely for their delicious taste and satisfying crunch, the pistachio is also stacked full of nutritional goodness. New research continues to come to light showing the positive benefits of pistachios:
Lung Cancer: Recently it was revealed that a diet that incorporates a daily dose of pistachios may help reduce the risk of lung and other cancers, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held Dec. 6-9, 2009.
A Smart Snack for Diabetics: Researchers from the University of Toronto found that when a handful of pistachios were eaten with a high glycemic index food like white bread, the pistachios helped blunt the rise in blood sugar and reduced hunger-stimulating hormones. That helps control appetite, and is good news for diabetics.
Pistachios, "The Skinny Nut": Overweight and obesity are risk factors for type II diabetes and heart disease. Nutrition experts call pistachios the "Skinny Nut" because they are one of the lowest calorie, lowest fat and highest fiber nuts offering the most nuts per serving.
Pistachios are "Heart Healthy": Most of the fat in pistachios is the "good" fat that helps lower the risk of heart disease. Penn State researchers found that eating one to two handfuls of pistachios a day resulted in a nine to 12 percent reduction in "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.
pistachiohealthinstitute.org, the leading online source of information on the health and nutrition benefits of pistachios, is offered in 12 languages and includes research updates and educational materials, to both consumers and health professionals. The award-winning site is provided by Paramount Farms, California's largest pistachio grower and processor, as an industry-wide resource.
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