Pistachio Intakes and Recommendations
Due to their health benefits, many national dietary guidelines now recommend the daily consumption of nuts, advising from around a handful (25 g) to 40 g/day, except for the small percentage who have a nut allergy.
In Europe the EAT-Lancet healthy reference diet lists tree nuts advising a daily intake of 25 g, which includes pistachios, thus recognising these as a plant protein source.
In Australia and New Zealand, 30 g of nuts is recommended as part of a heart healthy diet.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) have a protein subgroup including 5 oz equivalent of nuts, seeds, and soy per week at the 2000 calorie level. This amount, however, is not aligned with the 2003 heart health claim (42.5 g) per day of nuts, such as pistachios.
Canada’s Food guide advises eating plant-based sources of protein, including nuts, more often.
Some studies have measured dietary intakes of tree nuts, with some reporting on pistachios. European data (from the EPIC study) found that only 0.4% men and 0.7% women ate pistachios and portion sizes were smaller than advised (around 22 g/day). In America the NHANES survey found that among those eating nuts, usual intakes were 44.3 ± 1.6 g/day, which is just aligned with Food and Drug Administration evidence that eating 42.5 g per day could reduce heart disease risk. However, only 5.5–8% of the population actually ate tree nuts.
The pistachio review recently published in Nutrients Journal, Special Issue "Plant-Based Diets: Benefits and Concerns" found that there are gaps between intakes of tree nuts and recommendations. Movements towards nutrient-rich, plant-based diets mean that populations should be considering dietary alignment with at least amounts of nuts specified in the EAT-Lancet healthy reference diet (25 g; 149 kcal).
EPIC; European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study.
NHANES; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Further information is available via:
Derbyshire E, Higgs J, Feeney MJ & Carughi A (2023) Believe It or ‘Nut’: Why It Is Time to Set the Record Straight on Nut Protein Quality: Pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) Focus. Nutrients 15(9): 2158. Available via: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/9/2158
This work was supported by the American Pistachio Growers.