News Release

Daily intake of tree nuts, including pistachios, does not lead to weight gain, body fat gain, or changes in energy intake in Millennials

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center found Millennial-aged adults who snack on pistachios and other tree nuts experience better weight control and more efficient use of dietary fat as an energy source.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Pistachio Growers

Infographic square on new research showing that eating nuts, including pistachios, can help with weight control.


New research has found that daily intake of nuts, including pistachios, does not lead to weight gain and can help with weight control. 

view more 

Credit: American Pistachio Growers

More than half of Americans do not currently meet the daily recommendation of 5–7 ounce equivalents^ of nuts and seeds per week.1

One possible contributor to such low intakes of tree nuts could be a fear that the calories or fat composition of tree nuts leads to weight gain.

For example, past studies suggest that up to 87% of Americans think eating nuts can lead to weight gain due to their dietary fat content2 despite scientists confirming that eating nuts every day, including pistachios,3 can be an achievable and simple strategy to stave off a range of health conditions with excess weight as a risk factor, including diabetes and heart disease.

Low tree nut intake by population groups including young adults in their 20s and 30s is especially problematic since they are at high risk for excess abdominal obesity and for developing Metabolic Syndrome (MetSx) - precursors to prediabetes and full-blown diabetes. In fact, the overall rate of MetSx has increased to 21.3% in this group of the population.4

This New Year is the perfect time to close the book on harmful food myths once and for all. Included among these myths is the misconception that the fat content of pistachios – and other nuts – leads to weight gain, which may prevent some from reaching their 2024 self-care journey in a flavorful, nutritious, and satisfying way.

A recent study,5* published by Heidi J. Silver, PhD, RD, and colleagues from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, fed 84 Millennial-aged adults (22–36 years old) who had at least one metabolic syndrome risk factor (e.g., high blood pressure, high blood glucose, excess body fat around the waist, or abnormal blood cholesterol levels) either a snack of one ounce of mixed, unsalted tree nuts (including pistachios) or one ounce of a carbohydrate snack (like unsalted pretzels or graham crackers) twice per day for 16 weeks.

An overview of key findings from this study include:

  • Without the study participants making any other changes to their diet (without restricting calorie intake) or lifestyle habits (without changing physical activity habits), researchers saw a 67% reduction in MetSx risk for females and a 42% reduction in MetSx risk for males who ate tree nuts in the study.
  • Researchers found that participants eating one ounce of mixed tree nuts two times per day (including pistachios) had no change in their energy intake or body weight over the 16-week study period.
    • These findings are consistent with past research that showed eating as much as 15-20% of calories from pistachios does not lead to weight gain.3,6
  • In female participants, there was evidence that eating the mixed tree nuts led to reduced waist circumference (abdominal fat), a key risk factor for MetSx, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • In male participants, there was evidence that eating the mixed tree nuts led to reduced blood insulin levels, another important risk factor. 
  • Researchers also observed that the bodies of participants eating tree nuts were able to use fat for energy more efficiently compared to a carbohydrate snack, which may explain why the group eating tree nuts, like pistachios, did not increase body weight or body fat during the study period.
    • Past research also suggests that the body absorbs 5% fewer calories from eating pistachios than previously thought.7

“We specifically designed the study to be able to investigate the independent effects of eating tree nuts on body weight by ensuring that the number of calories the participants ate during the 16-week intervention period matched the amount of calories they expended each day, which is one of the overall strengths of the study design and results,” said Silver.

“This carefully designed and well-controlled study shows that eating tree nuts, like pistachios, does not have to lead to weight gain and can be an important part of anyone’s self-health care routine in 2024,” she explains.

The study authors also note that additional research on the cardiometabolic response to tree nuts is needed in other subgroups of the population.

Eating tree nuts, like pistachios, daily is an easy way to experience a flavorful, nutritious, and portable snack that can reinvigorate a person throughout the New Year.

In addition, to a healthy fat profile, pistachios grown in the U.S. are also a plant-based source of complete protein. Indeed, 1 serving of pistachios (1 ounce or 49 kernels) is an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamin B6, thiamin, phosphorus, and copper.

For more information about research on the health benefits of pistachios, visit

^1 ounce equivalent of nuts is equal to 1/2 ounce of nuts.

*This study was funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation.

About American Pistachio Growers

American Pistachio Growers is a non-profit trade association representing more than 865 members who are pistachio growers, processors and industry partners in California, Arizona and New Mexico. American-grown pistachios are sold under many quality brand names internationally, so look for country of origin on packaging. For more information, visit


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.  9th Edition. December 2020. Available at
  2. Neale EP, Tran G, Brown RC. Barriers and facilitators to nut consumption: A narrative review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(23):9127.
  3. Bulló M, et al. Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts. Br J Nutr. 2015;113 Suppl 2:S79-93.
  4. Hirode G, Wong RJ. Trends in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the United States, 2011–2016. JAMA. 202;323:2526–2528.
  5. Sumislawski K, et al. Consumption of tree nuts as snacks reduces metabolic syndrome risk in young adults: A randomized trial. Nutrients. 2023;15(24):5051.
  6. Burns‐Whitmore B, et al. Effects of pistachio consumption on body composition and blood lipids in healthy young women (640.6). The FASEB Journal. 2014;28:640-6.
  7. Baer DJ, Gebauer SK, Novotny JA. Measured energy value of pistachios in the human diet. Br J Nutr. 2012;107(1):120-5.


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.