What Is Pistachio Milk, and Is It Healthy?
Based on the number of obscure dairy-free “milks” on grocery store shelves today (looking at you, hemp milk and banana milk), it seems as though anything and everything can be turned into a milk with the wave of a mystical milk wand.
And now, pistachios are getting the ✨ magic ✨ treatment. Back in November, pistachio milk brand Táche launched, releasing its new plant-based, dairy-free drink, composed primarily of water and pistachios, in sweetened and unsweetened varieties. While Táche is the sole pistachio-only alt-milk on the market, Three Trees — an organic nut and seed milk brand — also sells an unsweetened milk made from a blend of pistachios and almonds.
But is pistachio milk worthy of a spot in your refrigerator? Here’s what you need to know about drinking the green nut.
How Healthy Is Pistachio Milk?
Before they’re blended and bottled in their milk form, pistachios are nutritional powerhouses. In a one-ounce serving (about 49 nuts) of raw pistachios, you’ll get roughly 6g protein and 3g fiber, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Thanks to these filling nutrients, you won’t become hangry an hour after snacking. What’s more, a serving of pistachios contains 30 percent of your recommended daily allowance of calcium, a mineral that helps your body build and maintain strong bones, clot blood, and send and receive nerve signals, per the National Library of Medicine.
Once transformed into a smooth beverage, pistachios don't pack quite the same punch. A one-cup, 50-calorie glass of Táche's unsweetened pistachio milk, for example, contains only 1g fiber and 2g protein — a third of what you’d get in a serving of raw nuts — and the calcium in the drink will cover just 2 percent of your RDA.
Also important to note: An 80-calorie glass of the brand’s sweetened pistachio milk packs 6g added sugar. “That’s not an awful amount of sugar, but ask yourself: Is it necessary?” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a dietitian and Shape Brain Trust member. “It’s something to consider since there are other milks you can get without that added sugar.” The USDA recommends capping calories from added sugars at 10 percent of your total caloric intake (or 50g for the average woman), so there is some room to enjoy a sweet glass of pistachio milk if that’s what you’re craving. Just make sure to consider where else you may be getting added sugar throughout the day so you don’t go over that suggestion, explains Gans.
Three Trees’ pistachio milk fares ever-so-slightly better than Táche’s, boasting 2g fiber, 4g protein, and 4 percent of your RDA of calcium per cup. But there’s a catch: This 100-calorie-per-serving pistachio milk also contains almonds, which may be responsible for these small increases in specific nutrients and its 50 additional calories, says Gans. (Related: Almond Milk Recipes to Satisfy Every Creamy Craving)
Even though these pistachio milks aren’t necessarily the crème de la crème of healthy beverages, they don’t raise any major red flags, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t add them to your alt-milk rotation, explains Gans. “They’re not necessarily a replacement for the nutrition of the 100-percent whole nut,” she says. “But for those who are looking for an alternative, at least these milks are giving you some nutrients, not nothing.”
Pistachio Milk vs. Other Alternative Milks
Calories: These pistachio milks might not have any ~exceptional~ health perks, but they do have a leg up on some alt-milks in the calorie category, says Gans. One cup of Oatly’s original oat milk contains 120 calories — more than double that of Táche's unsweetened pistachio milk — while a cup of Silk’s unsweetened soy milk boasts 80 calories. Silk’s unsweetened almond milk, on the other hand, clocks in at just 30 calories per cup. (P.S. you'll want to keep these nut milks on your radar.)
Protein: When it comes to protein, these pistachio milks are in line with oat milk, as Táche's unsweetened milk provides 2g and Three Trees' offers 4g, while Oatly packs 3g per cup. If loading up on protein is your top priority, you’re better off sipping on a glass of soy milk, which contains a whopping 7g protein. (FYI, that’s a gram more protein than an egg.)
Fat: On the lowest end of the spectrum is Silk's unsweetened almond milk, which contains just 2.5g of fat per cup. Similarly, a cup of Táche's unsweetened pistachio milk has just 3.5g of fat per serving, and none of it is saturated fat (the type of fat associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease when consumed in high amounts). Instead, you're getting mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the better-for-you, heart-healthy kinds that can help improve cholesterol, from those nutritious pistachios, says Gans. You'll also get 7g of these fats — plus 1g of saturated — in Three Trees' version.
Pistachio Milk vs. Cow's Milk
While it might stack up nutritionally against other alt-milks, pistachio milk falls short when it comes to the essential nutrients found in the OG cow’s milk: Calcium and vitamin D. Reminder, a cup of 2-percent milk has nearly 31 percent of your RDA for calcium and 18 percent of your RDA for vitamin D, a nutrient that helps your body absorb the former. Since these nutrients aren’t naturally found in abundance in nuts, most plant-based milks — but not Táche or Three Trees — are fortified with them (re: added to the drink) so you can get your fill.
“You might be replacing your cow’s milk with pistachio milk because you think it’s better for you, but you're actually missing the biggest key nutrients from milk,” says Gans. So if pistachio milk is the one and only milk you’ll be adding to your diet, you'll likely have to turn to other sources of calcium (like cheese, yogurt, kale, and broccoli) and vitamin D (like salmon, tuna, and eggs) to meet your quota. (Related: Is Non-Refrigerated and Shelf-Stable Milk Bad for You?)
So, Should You Add Pistachio Milk to Your Diet?
These pistachio milks might not rank as the top alt-milk in terms of protein or calcium content, but they do still offer some of those nutrients, meaning it’s A-OK to pour yourself a glass if you want to do so. And at the end of the day, your decision is probably going to come down to taste, says Gans. Both Táche and Three Trees milks feature a slightly sweet, slightly nutty flavor profile paired with a luxuriously creamy texture that’s ideal for frothing. To get those perks, Gans suggests adding your pistachio milk to lattes, matcha drinks, smoothies, and oatmeal, or even drinking it straight up — there are no wrong answers here. (Seriously, you can even use it to make a creamy cocktail.)
If a particular ingredient in either of these milks — such as the gellan gum that thickens and adds texture to Táche's milks — is a bit off-putting to you (though it's completely safe), you can also try making your own pistachio milk, says Gans. Simply blend one cup of shelled pistachios and four cups of water until well-combined and the mixture is starting to thicken. Pour the liquid over a cheesecloth to strain out any chunks, and voilà — homemade pistachio milk.
Whether you stock up on pre-made pistachio milk or whip up your own, know that the dairy-free beverage shouldn’t act as a replacement for the nuts themselves. “There are some benefits to drinking these milks, but it’s still not the same as eating a bag of pistachios,” says Gans. “I think a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I can just drink my nuts now,’ and I don’t really think it’s the same. You’re not going to get all the nutrients in a glass.”