Pistachios are tree nuts that provide a good source of protein, dietary fiber, trace minerals, and healthy fats. They’re often served as hors d’oeuvres at dinner parties, but make for a great snack food too.
The strong antioxidant content of pistachios and their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat content makes them well-suited for incorporation into a diet that’s oriented towards long-term health.
If you want a snack that tastes good as well as helping you improve your health, pistachios are an excellent option. We’ve ranked and reviewed the ten best pistachio brands, and afterwards, we’ll go in-depth on the scientific research behind the nutritional benefits of pistachios.
1. Fiddyment Farms Gourmet Pistachios
Fiddyment Farms Gourmet Pistachios is one of the best bulk options for people looking for an unsalted, in-shell pistachio.
This simple three pound bag contains high-quality pistachio nuts grown in California, and contains zero ingredients other than pistachios.
Notably, these pistachios are also free of any trace of peanuts, making them a good option for people who have a peanut allergy but not a tree nut allergy. Thanks to their purity, simplicity, and lack of any other allergens, they’re our top pick.
2. Sincerely Nuts Roasted and Unsalted Shelled Pistachios
Sincerely Nuts makes one of the best bulk options for pistachio nuts, because these pistachios have already been removed from their shells and roasted.
They are a good option for people looking to keep their sodium intake low, as they are one of the few pistachio nuts on the market that have not been salted.
The two-pound resealable bag makes this a great choice if you are a heavy user of pistachios, or if you need to prepare a large amount of pistachios for guests.
3. Setton Farms Pistachios
Setton Farms Pistachios are a gourmet pistachio nut that’s slowly dry-roasted and seasoned with sea salt. They come in a resealable two pound bag, and are the best option on the market if you want gourmet-quality pistachios without any fanc seasoning added to it.
These make for great appetizers and snacks, and the one-pound size is a nice happy medium that is well-suited for many different types of users.
4. Wonderful Pistachios Roasted and Salted 1.5 Ounce Packs
Wonderful Pistachios also makes a version of their highly popular pistachios that’s much simpler and is conveniently packaged in single-serving packages that deliver 120 calories each.
These pistachios are roasted and seasoned with sea salt, so they don’t have the extra flavorings and ingredients as Wonderful Pistachio’s flagship products.
If you are a minimalist when it comes to additives and flavorings, though, that’s a benefit, and many people find the single-serving packages incredibly convenient.
5. Gorilla Food Co Natural Pistachio Nuts
Gorilla Food Co Natural Pistachio Nuts are one of the few options for raw, unsalted and unroasted pistachio nuts. They come in an eight, 16, or 32 ounce plastic bag, and have already been removed from their shells.
Assuming you are looking for unroasted pistachio nuts, the packaging is the biggest downside: the bag cannot be resealed, so you’ll have to provide your own reusable container to store these after opening so they don’t go bad.
6. We Got Nuts Turkish Pistachios
We Got Nuts Turkish Pistachios have a slightly different flavor than the typical pistachios grown in California. Moreover, if you are a serious bulk user of pistachios, this five pound bag is the only way to go.
These pistachio nuts have been roasted and salted, though they remain in their shell. While not everyone needs such a large amount of pistachio nuts, it’s an attractive option for those who go through a lot of pistachios on a regular basis.
7. Kirkland In-Shell Pistachios
Kirkland Signature has a reputation for straightforward and simple products that are plain but high-quality, and they certainly live up to that reputation with their pistachio nuts.
These pistachios come in a three pound bag, and include their shells. Moreover, they’ve been roasted and salted, so they are ready for serving or for snacking.
8. Keenan Farms Shelled Roasted Pistachios
While many people enjoy plucking the pistachio nut out of its protective casing, others understandably find it a pain. Keenan Farms makes pistachio nuts that have been pre-shelled, roasted, and flavored with sea salt.
It’s great for convenient snacking, but it really shines if you are making a recipe that calls for roasted pistachios. The time saved by not having to shell the pistachios is a huge help.
9. The Pistachio Factory Raw Pistachio Butter
Pistachio butter is exactly what you think—a finely ground and mixed paste of pistachios. The texture and flavor of pistachio butter is much stronger than similar nut butters like almond butter and peanut butter, so even though this five ounce container is fairly small, you’ll find that it lasts you a surprisingly long time.
While it’s not quite as easy to snack on, it does go well with crackers, dry vegetables like carrots, or bread.
10. Wonderful Pistachios Salt and Pepper Flavor
Wonderful Pistachios makes a snacking pistachio that’s intended for people looking for a high-end snacking option that’s both healthy and tasty.
These pistachios are seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon, and natural flavoring agents. While people focused on a healthy diet exclusively might not want these added ingredients, they do make for great hors d’oeuvres at dinner parties or cocktail parties.
The 48 ounce bag is great for people looking to entertain guests, or for people who want to parse out their snack servings into their own reusable containers. The sole downside with the packaging is that the bag is not resealable, so get our own reusable container to store these pistachios after opening.
Pistachio benefits and side effects
Pistachios belong to the family of tree nuts, which includes things like pecans, walnuts, and cashews. Tree nuts all are excellent sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but pistachios are particularly rich in nutrients like copper and vitamin B6.
Consumption of pistachios has also been associated with a reduction in risk factors for heart disease, and improvements in your body’s antioxidant status. Here’s what the best scientific research has to say about pistachios.
Pistachios are rich in copper, which can help strengthen your bones. Copper is a trace minerals that’s hard to find in many common foods. Pistachios, however, contain 40% of your recommended daily intake in just two ounces (1).
Scientific research has demonstrated a connection between copper deficiency and an increased risk of bone fracture, which indicates that copper plays an important role in bone metabolism and growth.
One such study was published in 1990 in the journal Age and Aging, and tested blood levels of copper among elderly patients with a femoral neck (hip) fracture from a fall, compared to age- and sex-matched controls who did not have a hip fracture (2).
The researchers found a significantly lower level of copper in the blood of the elderly people who had fractured their hip, indicating that a deficiency in copper could be related to worse bone strength.
Pistachios can improve your gut microbiome. Probiotics are a hot new area of nutritional research—these are species of bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines, and play a critical role in health conditions ranging from obesity to autoimmune diseases.
The old adage of “you are what you eat” seems to be particularly apt for probiotics. While some foods, like kombucha, directly introduce new beneficial strains of bacteria into your digestive tract, others (sometimes called prebiotics) instead provide digestible nutrients that specifically target the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. Pistachios are one of these prebiotic foods.
A scientific study published in 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition investigated the effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut bacteria composition in a randomized trial (3).
The study involved a group of healthy adults consuming a control diet, a diet that included a substantial amount of almonds, or a diet that included a substantial amount of pistachios.
Each diet was consumed for 18 days, after which the researchers analyzed the probiotic bacterial content of the feces of the volunteers. While almonds had a small benefit to levels of probiotic bacteria, the effects of almonds paled in comparison to the effects of pistachios.
Eating a diet high in pistachios was associated with a marked increase in bifidobacteria, one of the main categories of probiotic bacteria.
As such, the findings of this study provide strong evidence for using pistachios as a functional food that provides prebiotic fuel (such as fiber) to the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, leading to better digestion, higher immune system function, and the host of other health benefits associated with a strong gut flora population.
Pistachios can help slow the absorption of carbohydrates in your diet. The negative effects of refined carbohydrates and sugars in your diet are well-documented—a diet high in either of these tends to lead to obesity and metabolic problems like type two diabetes.
For these reasons, carb blockers are a popular category of weight loss supplements, but it turns out that pistachios can act as a 100% natural carb blocker. Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 by a team of researchers in Canada investigated the physiological effects of pistachios on blood sugar, both alone and in combination with refined carbohydrates (4).
In the study, healthy volunteers consumed pistachios either alone or in combination with a controlled amount of white bread. After each meal, the researchers analyzed how the subjects’ blood sugar levels changed.
Typically, after a meal rich in refined carbohydrates (such as white bread), blood sugar spikes significantly. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that pistachios alone had little effect on blood sugar, and when they were eaten in combination with white bread, the blood sugar response was blunted markedly compared to eating white bread alone.
This makes pistachios an especially attractive snacking option for people who are looking to lose weight and for people trying to achieve better control over their blood sugar.
Like other tree nuts, somewhere around two percent of the population has an allergy to pistachios. Obviously, these people should not be eating pistachios or any other tree nut.
A greater proportion of people, perhaps 8-11%, have oral allergy syndrome, which can cause itching and irritation in the mouth, throat, and lips (5).
These people should also avoid pistachios and other tree nuts. Finally, though peanut allergies are different than tree nut allergies, some pistachios are roasted using peanut oil, or are processed on the same equipment that processes peanuts and other allergens.
If you have a peanut allergy but not a tree nut allergy, make sure to opt for a high-quality pistachio that does not contain traces of peanuts.
Research has tested individual “doses” (serving sizes) of pistachios of up to 84 grams. At least with respect to the carb blocking abilities of pistachios, increased doses of pistachios appear to be more effective.
Other work has replaced up to 20% of total caloric intake with pistachios and found positive results, so at least up to this limit, there does not seem to be a cap on the effective dosage level.
Notably, though, epidemiological research has found that lower doses of tree nuts are effective at decreasing your risk for heart disease, so there are some benefits even with a few servings of pistachios per week.
Pistachios are a tree nut that are an excellent source of healthy fats, trace minerals like copper to strengthen your bones, and have potent beneficial biological effects.
These include boosting the strength of your gut bacteria, and even blocking the absorption of carbohydrates when eaten alongside a meal rich in carbs.
Aside from those with tree nut allergies or oral allergy syndrome, pistachios can be included even at relatively large amounts (at least 20% of your total daily caloric intake) without any apparent ill effects.
Due to all of these health benefits, pistachios are far from just a snack and hors d’oeuvres option—they’re a full-blown functional health food.