Are Pistachio Nuts Good for Pregnancy? Safety and Benefits

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Pistachio nuts are delicious (and moreish!) but if you’re pregnant – are they beneficial? Or should you swap them out for other nuts while you’re expecting?

Pistachio nuts are not only safe during pregnancy, but contain many nutritional benefits for mother and baby while also being filling and satisfying. As they’re very moreish, you should keep an eye on how many you eat when pregnant, as pistachios are high in calories and fat, too.

We’ll guide you through how to safely enjoy pistachio nuts during your pregnancy, and what the benefits are. 

The Benefits of Eating Pistachio Nuts When Pregnant

Pistachio nuts have many nutritional benefits. 

They’re an excellent source of Vitamin B6 (source: Nutrition Data). Expectant mothers should consume enough vitamin B6 as it can help to make nausea and morning sickness less severe. It also plays a role as your baby’s nervous system develops (source: American Pregnancy).

Pistachio nuts are a great source of thiamine – aka vitamin B1. This vitamin is required for the development of your baby’s brain (source: American Pregnancy). 

Your daily requirements for copper increase during pregnancy. Consuming too little copper during pregnancy has been associated with intrauterine growth restriction and other ailments (source: Silver Chair). 

Some women lose bone mass due to a drain of stored calcium and phosphorus in the bones during pregnancy. An animal study found that strong evidence of bone depletion occurred in instances where the rat’s diet was deficient in these minerals (source: The Journal of Clinical Investigation).

Keep in mind that animal studies do not always yield the exact same results in humans. Pistachios are rich in phosphorus. This mineral can help to maintain your own bone mass – as well as helping to grow your baby’s bones. Phosphorus can also help to maintain a regular heartbeat, muscle contractions and blood clotting. 

pistachio nuts with shell in a wooden bowl

It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to suffer from iron deficiency. Pregnant and menstruating women need more iron than other people. Thankfully, pistachios contain this mineral too.

Iron plays a role in your baby’s growth and development. It also creates hemoglobin, which carries oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. 

Folate can also reduce your risk of anemia during pregnancy. There is some folate in pistachio nuts. This vitamin plays a role in the creation of red blood cells (source: Obstetrics & Gynecology). Consuming enough folate can also lower the risk of experiencing preeclampsia or encountering birth defects such as spina bifida (source: Plos One). 

Vitamin E can ward off anemia too as it also helps to create and maintain red blood cells. This vitamin is found in pistachio nuts but vitamin E deficiency is rare. It also acts as an antioxidant. Oxidative stress is not uncommon during pregnancy and can lead to an increased risk of intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia (source: American Family Physician).

You will also find some magnesium in pistachio nuts. Eating enough magnesium during pregnancy can reduce the risk of fetal growth restriction and preeclampsia. It also helps to regular body temperature and the electrical signals in nerve and muscle cells (source: Advanced Biomedical Research). 

Pistachios are very high in fiber. Many women find themselves experiencing constipation during pregnancy but the fiber in pistachios can help to combat this.

Are Pistachios Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?

Pistachio nuts are safe during pregnancy. 

It’s uncommon to find “raw” pistachio nuts, as they usually come roasted, but raw or unroasted pistachios are also safe for pregnant women.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s not advised to eat pistachio shells. The shell is not toxic, but it’s very hard so it’s not worth potentially damaging your teeth – as is often the case when you try to open a fully closed pistachio with your teeth!

Pistachios need to be shelled and dried within two hours of being harvested to prevent mold forming or aflatoxin (source: Khosbin Group).

This is not something you should have to worry about when it comes to store-bought pistachio nuts but if you grow pistachio nuts yourself or come across them elsewhere, it’s something to keep in mind. It’s best to purchase pistachios from a trusted, quality source – most for sale in grocery stores will have passed quality control measures.

How Many Pistachios Can I Eat Per Day When Pregnant?

When it comes to safety, there is not a strict upper limit on how many pistachios you can eat per day. Pistachios are very high in B vitamins (in particular, thiamine & B6). These vitamins are water-soluble, which means excess amounts are flushed out of the body in urine.

It’s still not recommended to go overboard on any particular vitamin on a regular basis in case you suffer from a vitamin overdose (source: American Pregnancy).

One thing to note is that pistachios are quite high in calories and fat. Not all fat is unhealthy as unsaturated fats are important for brain health. There are 685 calories in a 100-gram serving of pistachio nuts and 54.7 grams of fat, 33% of which is saturated fat (source: Nutrition Data).

So, it might be a good idea to consume these nuts in moderation. 30 grams of pistachios – which works out at around 49 kernels – is a moderate amount per day. It’s important to eat a wide range of foods during pregnancy for optimal health.

Rather than eating them by the handful, for example, why not sprinkle them over nutritionally-dense foods? Some suggestions are given below:

quinoa porridge with mango, pistachio nuts, goji berries and honey yogurt

Suggestions on Adding Pistachios to Your Pregnancy Diet

There are lots of delicious healthy ways to incorporate pistachio nuts into your diet during pregnancy:

Salad: Pistachios are a great source of protein in a homemade salad with peas and artichokes. They’ll add a tasty crunch!

Trail mix: pistachios are a delicious addition to trail mix with goji berries and macadamia nuts. An ideal go-to snack if you’re feeling hungry between meals.

Soup: Pistachios and broccoli make a hearty green soup that is perfect for winter. It also makes the soup more filling by upping its protein content, too.

Quinoa: pistachios can be served in a homemade red quinoa salad with shallots, parsley and mint. A delicious option for warmer weather, or a picnic.

I hope this cleared up any questions you might have had about snacking on pistachios during pregnancy. Overall, these little nuts are delicious and nutritious – but it’s best not to go overboard and eat them in large quantities.