Are Pistachios a healthy midnight snack

Are Pistachios a healthy midnight snack

Jul 31, 2021, 10:41:15 AM Life and Styles

A dense nut with great health benefits. It is one of the nuts that are rich in micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, γ-tocopherol, phytochemicals, phytosterols, and xanthophyll carotenoids. Phytochemicals include potent antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins. Pistachios are a rich source of proteins, fatty acids, and fiber. 

A 100 grams of pistachios contains around 562 calories. Thus, making it a high-calorie but nutrient-rich snack. 

Pistachios Are Rich in Melatonin 

Almonds and pistachios are tree nuts. They contain phytochemicals or phenol compounds such as Melatonin and Ceramides. If they are consumed moderately and consistently, many chronic and degenerative diseases can be prevented. 

A study comparing the levels of melatonin in almonds and pistachios found a higher concentration of these phytochemicals in the latter. Thus, eating a handful of pistachios before bed can help extract the beneficial effects of Melatonin. 

Melatonin is popularly known to induce sleep by regulating the sleep/wake cycle and the circadian rhythm. This keeps the other hormones in check and helps one feel energized throughout the day. 

Other benefits of Melatonin in pistachios include immunostimulation, cytoprotection, and neuroprotection. These functions are carried out by the antioxidant effect of Melatonin on the powerhouse of the body; the mitochondria. Thus, this natural source of Melatonin should be regularly but moderately consumed as a bedtime snack.

Pistachios have Compounds that Exhibit Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects 

Other than Melatonin, other hydrophilic phenols and phytochemicals extracted from the nut showed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These include quercetin-3-O-glucoside, myricetin and luteolin flavonoids, gallatonins, and quercetin. These can help prevent the awful delayed-onset muscle soreness that is commonly experienced after several weeks of consistent training. 

These polyphenols actively reduce inflammation and the associated soreness by decreasing the pro-inflammatory markers such as Tumour Necrosis Factor Alpha and Interleukin 1Beta. Additionally, it decreases the release of Nitric Oxide, a natural vessel dilator; thus, preventing the influx of the above-mentioned inflammatory markers. Furthermore, they work as antioxidants by decreasing the reactive oxygen species especially released after lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation. Thus, the compounds within pistachios can play a jeep role in rest and recovery if consumed as a healthy snack

Pistachios Help Regulate the Metabolic Profile of Fats and Carbohydrates

Pistachios have been shown to have a glucose-lowering effect that decreases the release or sensitivity of insulin. The actual mechanism has not been established yet but a positive correlation has been seen in the levels of glucose and insulin in prediabetic patients. 

This glucose-regulating attribute of pistachios can be particularly irksome for bodybuilders, especially during the off-season, where they aim at increasing muscle hypertrophy by encouraging protein anabolism. And the diet is more laced with increased carbohydrate intake for instant energy. Thus, glucose is used as a primary source of energy to prevent protein or fat oxidation. With pistachios’ adverse effect of lowering glucose levels, bodybuilders keen on gaining mass should skip or reduce the intake of these nuts during off-season training sessions or avoid taking them with a high-carb meal to prevent the undesirable drops in insulin. 

Pistachios are great during rest and recovery periods, but adequate carbohydrates should be taken with them to maintain the balance between net protein synthesis and protein breakdown. 

Furthermore, if a bodybuilder consuming fats for energy is worried about the associated coronary artery disease or the decrease in lipid-produced sex hormone, testosterone, he should consume more pistachios. They help maintain the good lipids known as high-density lipoproteins (HDL), total cholesterol HDL ratio and regulate the high-density lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins ratio. 

Thus, the number of pistachios consumed should be adjusted according to the phase of body-building. Ideally, 55–60% carbohydrate, 25–30% protein, and 15–20% of fat should be taken during the off-season and the pre-contest phase. Thus, when the bodybuilder consumes more fats during the pre-contest phase to avoid protein catabolism, and promote fat oxidation, pistachios become the ideal snack. They not only regulate the lipid profile preventing health risks of a high-fat diet but also increase the sex hormone, testosterone that has been associated with improved performance. 

Proteins become the main macronutrient during pre-contest and peak weeks. 

Should Pistachios be Taken as a Bedtime Snack? 

Yes.Especially if the aim is to promote rest and recovery and prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness. Pistachios are great for regulating sleep cycles, thus increasing performance and energy levels throughout the day. But the only downside is their glucose-lowering energy effect that can cause lipid or protein anabolism during high-energy expenditure periods. Hence, ideally one should consume a carbohydrate snack before or after working out for instant energy. While pistachio snacks can be taken before bedtime with a protein supplement to promote better sleep and avoid acute intermittent protein breakdown respectively. If the phytochemical action of nuts is desired, pistachios can be replaced with almonds. But the regulation of lipid and carbohydrate metabolic profiles is exclusive to pistachios.

Published by johnkim kim


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