Throughout history, pistachios were considered food suitable for the rich and noble. They were said to have been a favorite of the Queen of Sheba, and also thought to bring good luck to lovers, who would steal away to meet beneath pistachio trees.
This royal nut was brought from the Middle East to southern European countries such as Italy and Greece for cultivation. In 1976, pistachios appeared commercially in California, where they became an important crop.
These jade gems are packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber and minerals. Pistachios are also rich in phytosterols, which appear to lower cholesterol levels and protect from certain types of cancer.
Recent studies have found that pistachios may lower risk of type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugars, and reduce inflammatory markers (a known risk factor for heart disease).
The FDA allows a qualified health claim on food packages stating that eating 11/2 ounces of most nuts (including pistachios) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce heart disease risk.