Pistachios in Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Have you been wondering if eating pistachios in pregnancy are beneficial to you and baby?

Pistachios are a small green tree nut from the cashew family and are not only addicting on their own, but they also give fun flavor and color to many desserts and baked goods. 

While growing tiny humans, women often become more aware of what they are putting in their bodies, for good reason! Let’s sort out all the facts about pistachios and pregnancy.

Can I eat pistachios while pregnant?

Rest assured that eating pistachios during pregnancy is more than safe. While they can not only be eaten right from the shell, they are added into ice cream and can help satisfy those pregnancy cravings. 

Pistachios, like many other nuts, contain a number of beneficial nutrients for pregnancy. This will be discussed more below.

What food group are nuts in?

Nuts are part of the macronutrient fats. While the word fat can be scary to some, don’t be fooled, fat is a crucial component of a prenatal diet with benefits for both you and baby.

Pistachios contain omega-3 fatty acids, more specifically ALA or alpha-linoleic acids, a type of omega-3. 

ALA is an essential fatty acid meaning that your body does not make it but requires it to function properly. ALA can be obtained from plant sources, not only pistachios but other sources such as flax and chia seeds (1)

ALA is converted to another type of omega-3, DHA, but at a poor rate, so it is important to get sources of both nutrients, not just ALA (2)

Pistachios nutrient breakdown

Pistachios are one of the smaller nuts in the family, so a standard 1 oz. serving size equals about 49 nuts. 

One serving size of pistachios contains 161 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein. 

They are high in vitamin B6, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine (B1), and copper. 

Benefits of pistachios in pregnancy

Pistachios contain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential in fetal brain development and help reduce the risk of preterm birth, perinatal death, and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission (3).

Regular pistachio intake can not only help with glucose, or sugar, metabolism but also reduce inflammation in the body (4).

Pistachios while pregnant specifically have been studied with benefits in preventing gestational diabetes which we will explore more below (5).

Gestational diabetes and pistachios 

The Mediterranean diet, high in olive oil and nuts, has been shown to improve pregnancy outcomes in women without gestational diabetes as well as women with it.  

Research shows the adoption of the Mediterranean diet in pregnant women helps reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes and decreases adverse outcomes for newborns (5)

A study was conducted by the Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition at the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid, Spain in 2017. The study included 814 pregnant women; 434 were prescribed a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil and pistachios. 

Of the 434 on the Mediterranean diet, only 74 were diagnosed with gestational diabetes as compared to the 103 of 440 women who were following a low-fat diet (5).

How many pistachios should I eat?

These bite-sized bits are full of benefits, but because of the dense nature of this food, they should only be consumed in moderation. Enjoy them, but don’t go too crazy on the pistachios tonight while you watch your favorite movie.

The good news is, you can eat the most pistachios for the least amount of calories out of all the nuts. 

Remember, 49 nuts is the serving size. This is a lot in comparison. For example, a 1-oz. serving size of walnuts is only 7 nuts. 

Following the standard serving size for nuts, generally, 1-oz. when snacking is perfect. 

How to include pistachios in your prenatal diet

Pistachios can be enjoyed the classic way by themselves, prying open each shell, but they have a number of uses.

They can also be:

    • A garnish on salads for a colorful crunch
    • Added to granola
    • Used in a smoothie
    • Crushed up and used as a breading on your favorite protein
    • Swirled in your oatmeal 

 

Final thoughts

Pistachios while pregnant are a safe and healthy snack that will contribute to a well-rounded prenatal diet.

They may even reduce your chances of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

When snacking on this shelled nut, be sure to watch your serving size. When it comes to nuts and seeds, especially salted, it is very easy to get carried away. 

Lastly, always be sure to listen to your body while eating, especially while pregnant. Not every food agrees with every person. Happy cracking!

By Lauren Gannon, Dietetic Intern and Ryann Kipping, RDN, CLEC | Owner & Founder

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