Who knew the humble pistachio could kick so much ass? This Paleo heavyweight has a host of unconventional and intriguing benefits, in addition to some pretty self-evident ones. Like, for instance, they’re delicious. Seriously, I always wonder if sneaky food companies add butter during their pistachio-roasting process, but so far the only explanation I can find is that pistachios are just naturally more delectable than the best bowl of popcorn you ever ate in your pre-Paleo days. Here’s an interesting tidbit: pistachios have been a delicacy in human cuisine since before 6000 B.C. They grow in dry climates and near-barren soil in which other trees don’t have a chance. They’re the terminator of nut trees. As with all nuts, moderation is important. I’m never one to suggest scarfing handfuls upon handfuls of pre-shelled, roasted, salted nuts that have a tendency to induce incredible overeating metrics. Consuming 1000 calories of nuts (just under 2 cups) is an easy feat when these satiety-blocking factors (the aforementioned pre-shelling, roasting, salting) are introduced. Which is why the pistachio rises to the top tier of snack foods: they’re usually sold with the shell still on. This means that in order to eat one tiny salty morsel (4 calories) , you have to risk breaking a fingernail or a tooth to pry the meaty seed from its oftentimes belligerent house. This process is worth it, but it slows you down, allowing time for the body’s satiety hormone to reach the brain and tell you to stop eating before you’ve accidentally eaten a tree-and-a-half’s worth of seeds. On the less abstract side of things, pistachios have been the subject of several scientific studies that tried to zero in on the nut’s health benefits. From a heart-health side, there’s evidence that the pistachio’s antioxidant profile can help reduce the amount of oxidized LDL particles in the bloodstream (those are the bad kind of cholesterol). Pistachios are also high in plant sterols, the highest, actually, of all nuts. These particles look like cholesterol, but have beneficial effects on heart disease risk factors. And sometimes nature gives you a winning combination. The cholesterol-lowering effects combined with the high argenine (an amino acid linked to nitric oxide production, which regulates blood flow) content produces a natural erectile function support pill. That’s right. They studied that. And last but not least, the shells. Turns out, there are a ton of uses for discarded pistachio shells the enterprising recycler should try. They can be used to line potted plants to help with drainage. They can be crushed and spread around gardens to deter snails and other pests. You can compost them. You can shred them and light them on fire as kindling. they can be shredded and used as kindling, the most Paleo of recycling methods. I also read that you can use them in crafts, but my mental image of a pistachio-shell necklace has a lot in common with stringing teeth around the neck. But hey, to each his own. Between saving you from yourself during your feeding frenzies, to reducing your risk of sudden death, to possibly restoring your sex life and your status among the recycling community, I think it’s fair to say that pistachios could save your life. So what do you think of pistachios? Like em, hate em, hate shelling them? How might you recycle your empty shells?