A pistachio is like Jack Nicholson's character Randle McMurphy in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest: a nut with a hard shell covering a center of genuine goodness.
An interesting study reveals the amount of healthful bacteria in the poop of people who ate pistachios compared to that of people who ate other nuts or none at all. Pistachios came out the winner for promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive tract. Almonds ranked number two (no pun intended).
What's so special about this little green seed? It's packed with dietary fiber and nutrients such as B6, thiamin, manganese, and copper. Bacteria in our guts -- necessary for a healthy digestive and immune system -- dine happily on that mixture.
Gut bacteria are a hungry lot. Five hundred to 1,000 species of bacteria live in our intestines (the total count of bacteria inside you is in the trillions). This community can make up 3 to 5 pounds of your body weight and about 60% of the solid matter in your feces. That's why you need to constantly replenish and nurture your intestinal flora (such a pretty-sounding word for the bacteria that lives inside us).
So, have a handful of pistachios (1 ounce is 160 calories) in place of a nutrient-empty snack, such as chips or soda, and you'll crack the secret to better digestive health.
More Answers from Michael Roizen, MD