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Pistachios Join Quinoa, Chickpeas and Soy as Substitutes for Animal Protein

Pistachios Join Quinoa, Chickpeas and Soy as Substitutes for Animal Protein

Pistachios are now considered a complete protein for people over five years old.

Seeking another alternative to animal protein that is portable and doesn’t require any cooking? Look no further than US grown roasted pistachios.

The popular snack has just been accepted as a complete protein for people over five years old, joining quinoa, chickpeas and soy as substitutes for animal protein. The announcement came from the American Pistachio Growers Annual Conference on March 3, 2020.

Often referred to as the building blocks of proteins, amino acids are compounds that play many critical roles in the body. While we can naturally produce 11 of them, there are nine amino acids that the body must acquire through food. This is where pistachios come in.


Related: Wonderful Pistachios Launches New Plant-Based Protein Campaign


Roasted pistachios have been determined to possess acceptable levels of all nine of these essential amino acids based on a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). The antioxidant-rich snack now meets the requirements for classification as a complete protein by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In addition to joining the ranks of a small number of complete plant-based proteins, pistachios are also a great source of healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and various nutrients, including vitamin B6 and thiamine. Their health effects may include weight loss benefits, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, and improved gut, eye and blood vessel health.

A 2019 study found that American grown pistachios contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s biological clock and controls sleep cycles. Another study notes that pistachios can play an important role in improving metabolic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Increasing preference for healthy food and rising health awareness is driving the pistachio market growth. North America is expected to show significant growth in the global pistachio market this year. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service, the US is the second largest exporter and producer of pistachios. Some of the players operating in the global pistachio market include The Wonderful Company LLC, Germack Pistachio Company and Primex Farms, among others.

Since the vast majority of plant-based foods are incomplete proteins, making them deficient in one or more of the essential amino acids, pistachios are proving to be another exception to the rule.