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Are chocolate covered pistachios good for you?

Chocolate covered pistachios are a popular snack that combine the delicious taste of chocolate with the crunchiness of pistachios. But are these chocolatey nuts actually good for you or are they just a sweet treat?

Nutritional profile of chocolate covered pistachios

To determine if chocolate covered pistachios are healthy, we need to look at their nutritional profile. Let’s start by examining the nutrition facts for a typical serving of chocolate covered pistachios:

Nutrition Facts Per 1 oz (28g) serving
Calories 160
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 7g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 5mg
Sodium 10mg
Total Carbohydrate 13g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 4g

As you can see, a 1 ounce serving of chocolate covered pistachios contains 160 calories, 11g of fat, 13g of carbs, and 4g of protein. Now let’s break down the nutritional components in more detail:

Fats

The total fat content is 11g per serving, which is relatively high given the small serving size. A large amount of the fat is saturated fat (7g), which can raise cholesterol levels if consumed in excess. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 13g per day for the average adult.

Carbohydrates

There are 13g of total carbohydrates per serving, which includes 8g of sugar. The sugar content is elevated because of the chocolate coating. Consuming too much added sugar can lead to weight gain and an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Protein

Chocolate covered pistachios contain 4g of protein per serving. While this isn’t a huge amount, it helps contribute to your daily protein needs. Pistachios themselves are a good plant-based source of protein.

Fiber

Each serving provides 2g of fiber, which is 7% of the daily recommended fiber intake. Fiber promotes digestive health and can help lower cholesterol levels.

Sodium

Sodium content is low at just 10mg per serving. Eating too much sodium can raise blood pressure, so it’s good this snack is low in salt.

Vitamins and minerals

Chocolate covered pistachios contain small amounts of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Pistachios are a good source of vitamin B6 as well.

Benefits of pistachios

Now that we’ve covered the basic nutritional profile, let’s dive into some of the specific health benefits that pistachios can provide:

Heart health

Pistachios contain healthy fats that can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. The phytosterols in pistachios help block cholesterol absorption. Pistachios are also a good source of potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure.

Weight management

Despite being high in fat and calories, research shows that people who eat pistachios do not tend to gain weight. The protein, fiber, and fat in pistachios leads to increased satiety compared to other snacks.

Blood sugar control

The healthy fats, fiber, and protein in pistachios help slow digestion and prevent spikes in blood sugar. This effect may benefit people with diabetes.

Gut health

The fiber in pistachios acts as a prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut. This can improve digestion and immunity.

Antioxidants

Pistachios contain the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene which help protect your cells from damage by free radicals.

Downsides of chocolate covered pistachios

While pistachios themselves are relatively healthy, the chocolate coating on chocolate covered pistachios adds some potential downsides:

High in sugar

The chocolate coating significantly increases the sugar content compared to plain pistachios. The added sugar provides empty calories and can be problematic for those with diabetes.

High in saturated fat

Most of the fat that comes from chocolate covered pistachios is from saturated fat in the chocolate coating. Too much saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Easy to overeat

The sweet chocolate taste makes it easy to over-consume in one sitting. Portion control is important when snacking on chocolate covered pistachios.

Processed ingredient

The chocolate coating is a processed food high in sugar, whereas plain pistachios are minimally processed.

Best practices for eating chocolate covered pistachios

If you want to incorporate chocolate covered pistachios into your diet, here are some tips to make them as healthy as possible:

Choose dark chocolate

Opt for pistachios coated in dark chocolate, which has less sugar than milk chocolate and contains antioxidants.

Watch portions

Stick to a 1 ounce serving size to control calories, fat, and sugar intake. Measure portions to prevent overeating.

Eat in moderation

Consume chocolate covered pistachios occasionally as a treat rather than every day to limit saturated fat and sugar intake.

Pair with fruit or nuts

Eat chocolate covered pistachios alongside fresh fruit or unsalted nuts to balance with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Practice mindful eating

Savor chocolate covered pistachios slowly. Be conscious of when your craving is satisfied to avoid overconsumption.

Healthier homemade recipe

You can make a healthier version of chocolate covered pistachios at home by using high quality ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw pistachios
  • 2 oz high cacao dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pistachios on a baking sheet in single layer.
  2. Roast for 5 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.
  3. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler. Stir until smooth.
  4. Pour chocolate over cooled pistachios until fully coated. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Refrigerate 30 mins until chocolate hardens. Store in airtight container.

This recipe cuts down on sugar by using dark chocolate and skips unhealthy oils by using coconut oil. Roasting the pistachios enhances their flavor. Sea salt balances the sweetness.

The bottom line

Are chocolate covered pistachios good for you? In moderation, they can be a relatively healthy treat thanks to the nutritional benefits of pistachios. However, the chocolate coating adds quite a bit of saturated fat and sugar. Stick to a 1 ounce serving and choose dark chocolate to maximize the health value of this snack.