Did you know that pistachios are seeds, not nuts? Though culinarily they are considered a nut, the fruit of the pistachio tree (Pistacia vera) is a drupe, and the edible portion is the seed found inside the drupe.
If you want to continue to impress your friends with this new trivia (especially handy when you're snacking on a bowl of “mixed nuts”): cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, and pine nuts are all seeds as well!
While the origins of pistachios began more than 4,000 years ago in central and southwest Asia, they are more widely cultivated today in the Mediterranean region. Pistachios were originally cultivated in regions close to where it grew wild.
The ancient Greeks were using pistachios for a variety of reasons such as medicine preparations, aphrodisiacs, and antidotes. During the 10th century, pistachio seeds were also cultivated in China, and today are found growing in Australia, California, and New Mexico.
Not surprisingly, pistachios are ranked as one of the top 50 food products highest in antioxidant potential. The seeds' skin is where most of the activity occurs, where it has a higher content of antioxidant phenolic compounds - so don't remove their skins when you eat or bake with pistachios!
What gives pistachios their reputation as free radical fighters and skincare product mainstays is the abundance of phenolic antioxidant compounds. In addition, pistachios contain catechins, plant-based flavanols, which are another type of antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage done to skin cells by free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that are missing an electron, and often pair with other electrons. They are known to cause damage to the DNA within cells. When the damage is done to skin cells, there can be an impact on the cell’s membrane and its mitochondria, which causes the appearance of premature aging.
This “premature aging” is often characterized by sagging skin, hyperpigmentation, or age spots, loss of elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles, and other attributes that make a person look older than their actual chronological age.
This damage to the cell’s genetic materials includes affecting their growth, function, and ability to repair. The body has its own antioxidant defense against free radicals, but if the cells are overwhelmed by an abundance of free radicals, the body can’t keep up.
That’s where topical or antioxidants from food come into play. Pistachio oil is a potent antioxidant. It helps the body counteract free radicals, helping to prevent key molecules in the skin cells from becoming damaged.
Skin health leads the benefit list; pistachio oil has a high concentration of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that has many other properties besides the best one: fighting free radicals.
Thanks to its ability to increase blood circulation and promote healing, pistachio oil helps to control acne, as well as to treat scars. Because vitamin E works to reduce inflammation, it helps minimize oil production, freeing up pores and preventing oil buildup. This helps to prevent acne.
Pistachio oil’s high levels of vitamin E also help to improve the skin’s elasticity, which helps block fine lines and wrinkles from forming. This produces a more radiant, youthful-looking skin tone. In addition, vitamin E also works to protect your skin cells’ membranes, which produces a shinier, healthier looking skin.
Another reason that pistachio oil is widely used in skincare product formulations is that it has emollient properties. When used as a topical oil, it is used to help prevent dry skin. Many products that contain pistachio oil also contain other ingredients that help to hydrate skin, like hyaluronic acid, and various butters like shea and mango to enhance pistachio oil’s emollient properties.
There are extensive benefits to using pistachio oil in a balanced diet as well, as the oil has been shown to reduce high blood pressure in Type II diabetes patients, lower cholesterol, and promote eye health, among other benefits.
Shifts in blood sugar levels cause the sebaceous glands produce more oils, which lead to eruptions of whiteheads and blackheads, and ultimately, acne, but ingesting pistachios alone won’t produce many of its benefits for skin.
Where pistachio oil really shines is in its antioxidant properties that can help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles in the skin. This “anti-aging” ability is what has made pistachio oil so popular as a key ingredient in many quality skincare products.
When you eat pistachios you probably won’t gain many of their antioxidant properties, and that’s because your body metabolizes the oils and only a very small percentage, perhaps as low as 1% - 3%, reaches the skin. The rest is either absorbed within your body’s organs or excreted.
Topical applications, on the other hand, are placed exactly where they can provide the most benefits. Because of pistachio oil’s emollient abilities, the oil can penetrate different skin layers to impart their antioxidant and vitamin E properties where they can do the most good.
A consistent regimen using quality skincare products that contain pistachio oils and other key ingredients will help to produce smooth, radiant-looking skin. The pistachio benefits for skin are many and will leave you looking more youthful in appearance.