Pistachio, is a small tree of the cashew family. The pistachio tree usually grows up max 9 meters (30 feet) in height. Each leaf of pistachio tree has one to five pairs of thick, wide, leathery, pinnate leaflets. Its edible seeds known as pistachio, are 1.5 to 2 cm (0.6 to 0.8 inch) long. Pistachio as a “nut” is a greenish kernel enclosed in a thin, tightly adhering, reddish skin. The pistachio kernels can be eaten fresh or roasted and are commonly used in a variety of desserts. Pistachios are high in protein, fat, dietary fiber, and vitamin B6.
pistachio tree grows in dry lands in warm or temperate climates. It is believed to pistachio tree is originated of Iran. It is widely cultivated from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean region and in California. Pistachio is a Persian word that has entered European languages through Latin.
Cultivars of pistachios in Iran
Iranian pistachios have different cultivars according to the shapes and sizes. The main cultivars are as follows:
1. Fandoghi (Round pistachio): This figure is the first export product.
2. Akbari (Long pistachio): This cultivar is the most expensive and most ceremonial type of pistachio.
3. Ahmad Aghaei (Long pistachio): This is a favorite of East Asian people.
4. Badami (Long pistachio): The shape of the kernel is similar to almond.
5. Kaleh Ghoochi: mouth of this cultivar is open and has a thick skin.
6. Natural pistachio kernels (red and cream): It is prepared from closed mouth pistachios.
7. Green pistachio kernels: It is used as a flavoring in ice cream, cookies.
Benefits of pistachios
1. Rich in nutrients
Pistachios contain many important nutrients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 ounce or approximately 49 kernels of unroasted nuts contain:
Protein: 5.72 grams g
Fat: 12.85 g
Carbohydrates: 7.70 g
Fiber: 3.00 g
Sugars: 2.17 g
Magnesium: 34 mg
Potassium: 291 mg
Phosphorus: 139 mg
Vitamin B-6: 0.482 mg
Thiamin: 0.247 mg
2. Low in calories & Helpful for weight loss
For those on a diet, pistachios are a great choice. Pistachios are low in calories, high in protein, and low in saturated and unsaturated fats. Which are all very suitable for maintaining an ideal weight. In a 2012 study, people who ate 1.87 ounces of pistachios over a 12-week period experienced twice the reduction in their body mass index (BMI) as people who ate pretzels instead of pistachios. Both groups consumed roughly the same amount of calories.
3. Full of antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that play a critical role in health. They reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases by preventing damage to the body’s cells.
Research reports that pistachios have among the highest levels of antioxidants including:
- xanthophyll carotenoids
These substances have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
In one small study involving 28 participants with high cholesterol who ate 1 or 2 daily servings of pistachios over 4 weeks, researchers showed that they experienced an increase in their levels of the antioxidants lutein, α-carotene, and β-carotene compared to those who ate none.
4.Good for heart health:
Research on a small sample of 28 participants that looks specifically at pistachios for heart health, reports that two portions daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study suggests that pistachios may help reduce levels of harmful cholesterol.
daily consumption of pistachio Reduces LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. These nuts are a rich source of amino acids, which prevent the narrowing of blood vessels and the formation of blood clots.
Women who frequently eat nuts may enjoy modest protection from cardiovascular disease, according to a 12-year study published in 2001 based on the Iowa Women’s Health Study.
A 2015 analysis of 21 studies reports that eating nuts may lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure in people without type 2 diabetes. Pistachios had the strongest effect of all the nuts tested on reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
5. Good for eye health
The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are essential for eye health. Pistachios are a rich source of both of these substances.
According to the American Optometric Association, lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the chances of developing eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
AMD and cataracts are the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
6. Beneficial for gut health
All nuts are rich in fiber, which encourages a healthy digestive system by moving food through the gut and preventing constipation.
A type of fiber called prebiotics may also feed the good bacteria in the gut. According to a small, 2012 study, eating pistachios may increase the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut. In this study, volunteers ate a standard diet with either 0 ounces, 1.5 ounces, or 3 ounces of pistachios or almonds.
Researchers collected stool samples and found that people who ate up to 3 ounces of pistachios daily showed an increase in potentially helpful gut bacteria, much more so than those who ate almonds.
7. High in protein for vegans and vegetarians
Pistachios contribute to a person’s daily protein needs, at almost 6 g of protein per 1 ounce serving.
Protein accounts for approximately 21 percent of the total weight of the nut, making it a good source for vegetarians and vegans, among others.
Pistachios also boast a higher ratio of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, when compared with other nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts.
provides a visual reminder of how much people have eaten.
8. Good for blood sugar balance
Pistachios have a low glycemic index, so they do not cause a sharp rise in blood sugar after someone has eaten them.
For people with diabetes, a study suggests that eating pistachios as a snack is beneficial for blood sugar levels, blood pressure, obesity, and inflammation markers.
9. Good for hair health:
Pistachios stimulate healthy hair growth due to the presence of fatty acids.
Pistachio is a wonderful treatment to strengthen and treat hair.
Using pistachio hair mask can nourish and moisturize the hair. In general, it improves hair texture. It is also very suitable for damaged and dry hair.
Hair loss treatment:
Pistachios contain a lot of biotin. Daily consumption of these nuts effectively affects hair loss.
10. Good for skin health:
Pistachios are a rich source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant in fat. These nuts play an essential role in maintaining healthy skin. It can also protect the skin from sun damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Pistachio oil acts as a natural moisturizer. You can use this oil as a substitute for your daily moisturizer to get smooth skin.
Prevent of aging
Pistachio consumption is very useful in reducing the signs of aging because it has several powerful antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and eliminate foot and skin cracks.
Lighten the skin
Pistachios contain essential fatty acids, which are useful for maintaining skin radiance
Three Common Mistakes About Pistachios
Pistachios make you fat
People may avoid pistachios and other nuts because they believe they contribute to weight gain.
When eaten as part of a healthful and calorie-controlled diet, research suggests that pistachios may actually aid weight loss.
Pistachios are high in sodium
Consuming salted pistachio nuts can increase daily sodium intake, sometimes beyond the recommended level. Choosing unsalted pistachio nuts is a low-sodium alternative.
Snacking on pistachios ruins your appetite
Pistachios are a great option for people who wish to eat more healthfully, as long as they eat them as part of a balanced diet. To avoid filling up on nuts before meals, stick to 1 ounce or one-half of an ounce daily and do not eat them too close to mealtimes.
Pistachio processing operation
In fact, a processing system is an interconnected set of devices and machines that perform the operations of peeling, cleaning, drying , grading and roasting the product. Certainly the contamination of a percentage of pistachios before harvest in the orchards is inevitable due to issues related to the genetics of the pistachio plant, climate, how to manage the orchards and the time of harvest. A proper processing system, in addition to being able to remove many contaminated pistachios, prevents the contamination of healthy seeds and provides the necessary safety to prevent the spread of contamination in the product. A noteworthy point in the use of machines is the order of their use, which increases the efficiency of the processing set.
The first stage of pistachio processing is peeling. Peeling machines are designed in different types and capacities from 1 to 10 tons per hour and are placed at the beginning of each processing system.
The peeling operation is done very quickly. Peeling method can play an important role in isolating pistachios suspected of being contaminated with aflatoxins and seeds that are immature and calloused. If the peelers do not have a standard of construction or regulation, they will cause the grains to break and pile up and increase the waste. Also, mechanical damage to the product during peeling can increase its susceptibility to the spread of spoilage in Increase the drying and storage steps in the warehouse.
Pistachio peeling machines can be divided into two groups:
1- Metal peeler
2- Rubber peeler
2. Washing and cleaning:
Pistachios should be washed and cleaned immediately after peeling to remove their bony skin from plant debris and sap. Otherwise, these materials will change color quickly and reduce the quality of the product and cause stains on the bony skin.
- Floating tanks (water basin)
Floating the peeled pistachios in the floating tanks causes the light seeds to float on the surface of the water and separate them easily from the final product and must be placed after the garbage collector. In the peeled product, in addition to healthy and peeled pistachios, there are many empty, immature, dried, damaged and unpeeled seeds that have a high possibility of contamination with aflatoxins and should be isolated.
Among the puddles separating pistachios that have not been peeled for any reason (immaturity, dryness, etc.), while they do not cause mechanical damage to the product.
In semi-mechanized systems, some of the moisture in pistachios is absorbed by the dehumidifiers. In cases where the workload allows, the dewatering time can be increased by closing the dehumidifier outlet to further reduce its moisture content.
- Separation of small pistachios
Separation of small pistachios from ordinary pistachios by sieving
- Remove empty pistachios
Some of the hollow pistachios that are not separated in the floating tank are separated by a dry pond. The dry pond is separated by light slides by sliding trays with the help of air flow. Dry pond before drying pistachios is not very efficient due to high humidity and weight of freshly peeled pistachios and therefore it is better to use pistachios after wetting.
- Pistachio Open Close Sorter
Separating a large portion of closed-mouth pistachios from opened-mouth pistachios by this separates greatly helps to increase the efficiency of the inspection conveyor belt and dryers. (The drying time of open and closed pistachios is different)
- Inspection conveyor belt
In the inspection strip, the separation of spotted pistachios, which are similar to healthy pistachios due to their weight characteristics and could not be separated by mechanical devices, is done through visual inspection, and because these pistachios are highly likely to be contaminated, the final aflatoxin is very effective.
Drying the cleaned product to the extent that it is not possible for fungi to grow and spread is the next step. At this stage, the moisture content of pistachios should be below 6%
Size and appearance are the most important components of pistachio quality. Size, designated by the number of nuts per ounce (28 grams) is also an important quality attribute.
5. Roasting and salting
The automatic pistachio roasting machine has high degree of automation, high heat utilization rate, uniform drying, and output of 300-8000 kg/h.
Pistachio-rich regions of Iran
Iranian pistachio orchards are mostly located in the following areas:
1. Central regions: Damghan, Qazvin, Saveh, Qom, Kashan, Semnan, Najafabad, Nain, Ardestan, Ardakan and Yazd.
2. Northern regions: Tabriz and Maragheh.
3. Eastern regions: Birjand, Kashmar, Khansar, Torbat Heydariyeh, Sabzevar and Tabas.
4. Southeast areas: Rafsanjan, Shahrbabak, Zarand, Kerman suburbs, Sirjan and Zahedan
5- Southwest regions: Neyriz, Abadeh, Abarko, Sarvestan and Shiraz suburbs.
These areas differ in terms of annual rainfall, altitude and temperature factors that determine the taste and quality of pistachios. Kerman province is the main center of pistachio producer in Iran and its share is about 70% of total production and total harvest in the country.
Pistachio producer countries
At present, according latest reports the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) and The U.S. are the global leaders in the production and cultivation of pistachios. Turkey and Syria rank third and fourth in pistachio production after the United States and Iran. Pistachios are also produced in Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and the Mediterranean Islands, most of which are locally produced and partially exported.
Iran and pistachio production in the world
According to the latest statistics released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Iran has been the world’s largest producer of pistachios for many years. The 2018 report of this organization shows that 65 to 70% of the cultivated area of this product is in the possession of Iran and more than 40% of the total pistachio production in the world is in the possession of Iran.
Pistachio is one of the most important export products of Iran, whose export value in 2016 was about $ 687 million.
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