What’s Green and Beige and Eaten All Over?


Researchers report that up to 95% of people do not get enough potassium.  Failing to meet the standard recommended daily intake levels can lead muscular cramps, twitching, and weakness, poor reflexes, fatigue, kidney failure, lung failure, and cardiac arrest. Also, too little potassium can result in insomnia, cognitive processing delays, and depression.  Getting enough potassium is important for shift workers who are already susceptible to sleep disorders, such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome, as well as fatigue.  When working shift work, it’s important to pay attention to eating nutritiously, which isn’t always easy to do.  Planning meals ahead is often the only way to guarantee a balanced diet when working nights, in particular.

When most people think of potassium, they think bananas.  Pistachios are very rich in potassium; just one ounce of pistachios provides 8% of the FDA’s daily recommended value; about 310mg of potassium per one ounce serving, more than any other tree nut.  One ounce of pistachios provides the same amount of potassium as a half of a large banana. Here is a comparison of bananas and pistachios as a source of potassium:

  • A large banana has about 120 calories; one ounce of pistachios has about 160 calories.


  • Pistachios are good for snacking; one ounce has about 50 nuts; there are about ten bites in a banana.


  • One banana has about 35% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B-6 (necessary to produce serotonin, which helps to regulate the onset of sleep and enhances moods); one ounce of pistachios provides about half the B-6 that a banana does.  But, many cereal products provide 100% of the recommended daily amount of B-6.


  • Pistachios are high in fiber; one ounce has about 3 grams of fiber, about the same as a medium size banana.


  • Bananas have about a third of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C; pistachios have significantly less.


  • Pistachios contain 13 grams of fat, but out of that 11 grams are ‘good’ fat grams which include 7g monounsaturated and 4g polyunsaturated, which may lower LDL (bad cholesterol). There are 2g of saturated fat and 0g of trans fat in pistachios.  Bananas have just .7 grams of fat including .3g of saturated fat.


  • A recently completed study involving 600 subjects, conducted in seven counties, has further substantiated the evidence that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Bananas improve blood vessel functions, blood sugar control, and operate as a potent antioxidant.


In short, both bananas and pistachios are good for you, and variety is the spice of life.  Shift workers may want to bulk up on both.  Try bringing them in to snack on during the night shift.

For a terrific banana bread recipe, click here.

If you like pistachios try these pistachio cranberry muffins, click here

For a decadent banana pistachio milk shake , click here

By the way, pistachios are green because they grow on trees and have an open shell, so the nut turns green due to exposure to direct sunlight. The nut’s green color comes from chlorophyll which makes it possible for plants to convert carbon dioxide and water, in the presence of sunlight, into oxygen and glucose. During this process, chlorophyll produces energy, in the form of sugary carbohydrates, which cause the plant to grow and develop. The outside shell is naturally beige; the ones with green or red shells have been died (best to just eat the natural ones).  Over 90% of the pistachios eaten in the U.S. are from California, but Iran actually produces more pistachios than the U.S. does.

For more on pistachios, see pistachiohealth.com.  To buy them bulk, try Yurosek Farms of Bakersfield, California.

For more on bananas, see banana.com.  It’s best to buy them at your local grocery store.

©2010 Circadian Age, Inc.˜Working Nights”

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