Almonds and pistachios have a similar amount of calories and affect your health in many of the same ways, but each have a different mix of vitamins and minerals. When it comes to nuts, you may get better health results from eating a variety of different types so you get a better mix of micronutrients. However, stick to about an ounce a day of nuts since they are high in calories and eating more could make it hard to stay within your daily calorie allowance.
Each ounce of dry-roasted almonds, or about 22 nuts, provides 170 calories, 5.9 grams of protein, 14.9 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbohydrates, including 3.1 grams of fiber, or 12 percent of the daily value. Pistachios contain 161 calories and about the same amount of protein as almonds in each ounce, or about 49 nuts, but less fat, with 12.7 grams, and less fiber, with 2.8 grams. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, riboflavin, magnesium and phosphorus, while pistachios provide significant amounts of phosphorus, thiamine and vitamin B-6.
Nuts in general may help with weight control and weight loss, according to a study published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in September 2008. Including them in your diet in moderate amounts isn't likely to cause weight gain and can make weight-loss diets easier to stick with until you reach your weight loss goals. If you choose pistachios still in the shell, it can help with portion control, according to a study published in October 2011 in "Appetite." Study participants ate fewer pistachios if they were given those in the shell instead of those already shelled, perhaps because of the longer time it takes to eat them and the visual cue of the pile of shells reminding people of how much they had already eaten.
Eating a handful of nuts occasionally as part of a healthy diet may also help you improve your heart health. A study published in "Nutrition" found that pistachios may improve your cholesterol numbers, reduce inflammation and support healthy blood vessels, potentially lowering your heart disease risk. Almonds may help lower your cholesterol levels and inflammation, and thus your heart disease risk, notes an article published in "The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2012.
Making nuts a regular part of your diet could also make you less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and make it easier to control this condition if you already have it. An article published in "Nutrition Reviews" in April 2012 noted that people who ate pistachios along with meals had smaller increases in their blood sugar levels after the meal than those who didn't. Similarly, almonds don't interfere with your insulin sensitivity and don't greatly increase your blood sugar levels after you eat them.
Both pistachios and almonds contain significant amounts of antioxidants, which may help lower your risk for certain health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. However, pistachios contain a bit more of these beneficial substances, with an ORAC score of 79.8 compared to 44.5 for almonds. ORAC, or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, is one way to measure the amount of antioxidants in a food.
- MayoClinic.com: Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds, Dry Roasted, Without Salt Added
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Pistachio Nuts, Dry Roasted, Without Salt Added
- Appetite: In-shell Pistachio Nuts Reduce Caloric Intake Compared to Shelled Nuts
- Nutrition: Effect of Pistachio Diet on Lipid Parameters, Endothelial Function, Inflammation, and Oxidative Status: A Prospective Study
- Nutrition Reviews: Pistachio Nuts: Composition and Potential Health Benefits
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Health Benefits of Almonds beyond Cholesterol Reduction
- Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: A Nutrition and Health Perspective on Almonds
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.