Fool Yourself Full with the Skinny Nut This Holiday Season


This holiday season, fill your bowl with in-shell California pistachios for a deliciously healthy snack to help keep calories in check and prevent poor food choices during the holiday season.

New research, recently published in the journal Appetite, shows that consuming in-shell pistachios offers unique mindful eating benefits to help curb consumption and decrease calorie intake.  Dubbed "The Pistachio Principle," this approach offers a stealth solution to keep holiday revelers from overeating by helping "fool yourself full."

The study found that participants who consumed in-shell pistachios ate 41-percent fewer calories compared to those who consumed shelled pistachios. The study also revealed that pistachio nut shells can provide important "visual cues" that translate into reduced calorie consumption.  Both studies further underscore that in-shell pistachios, which are one of the lowest calorie nuts, are a practical, everyday snack for weight management.

"In-shell pistachios are the original 'slow food.' The findings of these studies demonstrate that pistachios, as one of the only in-shell snack nuts, help slow consumption and reduce calorie intake, so you eat less but don't feel deprived," said behavioral eating expert and study author, James Painter, PhD, RD, Chair of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Eastern Illinois University.  "Enjoy a handful before heading out to holiday parties so you don't overindulge and keep a stash available to keep you energized while holiday shopping and to avoid mall food court traps."

In-Shell Pistachio Consumption Curbs Calories by 41-Percent Compared to Shelled Pistachios

The first study published in Appetite involved 140 university students who were assigned to consume either in-shell pistachios or shelled pistachios. At the beginning of class, both groups were provided a 16-ounce cup and self-selected a portion of pistachios. At the end of class, remaining pistachios were weighed and recorded; total weight and calories consumed was also calculated. Those who chose shelled pistachios consumed an average of 211 calories while those who chose in-shell pistachios consumed an average of 125 calories, a 41-percent decrease in calorie intake.

The second study, on 118 subjects, examined the potential role of pistachio shells as visual cues of intake. Study subjects were provided a 16-ounce bowl filled with four ounces of in-shell pistachios to keep on their desk. Subjects were told they could consume pistachios at their leisure during the day and were also provided a second 16-ounce bowl to discard the shells. For the first group, the bowls with pistachio shells were not emptied until the end of the day. For the second group, the bowls with pistachio shells were emptied every two hours.

"When leftover shells were removed throughout the day, calorie consumption of pistachios increased by 22-percent compared to when nut shells were left over as a visual reminder," said Painter. "Choosing in-shell pistachios instead of shelled nuts is a simple way to decrease calorie consumption without restriction. This is in keeping with existing research showing that when a person has visual cues of 'leftovers,' such as pistachio shells, they can help control portion size and consumption."

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