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Can Pistachio Nuts Lower Cholesterol?

Pistachio Nuts Are Healthy Nuts With Heart-Friendly Benefits


Updated May 27, 2014

Pistachio nuts laying on a table
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Pistachio nuts are seed fruits of the pistachio tree (Pistacia vera) and a close relative of cashews. This tree is native primarily to the Middle East, especially Turkey and Iran. Although the shells typically have a light brown color, pistachio nuts may be dyed red or green to hide damage of the outer shell inflicted during processing. Pistachio nuts are a popular snack, and chock-full of nutrients, such as thiamin, potassium, fiber, phytosterols, magnesium and vitamin B6. Additionally, pistachios contain high amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to improving cholesterol levels and promoting heart health.

The Good News

Most studies examining the effects of pistachios nuts on cholesterol involved people consuming pistachios -- about 15 to 20 percent of their daily caloric intake. Additionally, participants with and without high cholesterol were studied. Most studies indicate that eating three ounces of pistachio nuts a day for one month can raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, up to an average of 15 percent. This roughly equals to about two handfuls of pistachio nuts a day.

Although low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides appeared to be slightly lowered in these studies, it was not lowered enough to be considered significant. Although more research would be needed to confirm this, the studies performed so fat suggest that pistachio nuts can raise your “good” cholesterol.

High Calories

Pistachios, as well as other nuts, can contain a lot of calories due to their high fat content. In fact, approximately three ounces of pistachio nuts are 400 calories. Although this may seem like a high calorie snack, these studies did not see any significant weight gain in the participants eating pistachio nuts on a daily basis.

Bottom Line

Pistachios are a healthy snack to add your diet. They may also help with raising your good cholesterol levels, but further study is needed.


Sheridan MJ, Cooper JN, Erario M, Cheifetz CE. Pistachio nut consumption and serum lipid levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Apr;26(2):141-8.

Kocyigit A, Koylu AA, Keles H.. Effects of pistachio nuts consumption on plasma lipid profile and oxidative status in healthy volunteers. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2006 Apr;16(3):202-9. Epub 2006 Feb 9.

Edwards K, Kwaw I, Matud J, Kurtz I. Effect of pistachio nuts on serum lipid levels in patients with moderate hypercholesterolemia. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Jun;18(3):229-32.

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