MONTEREY, Calif., March 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, at the American Pistachio Growers Annual Conference, it was announced that U.S. grown roasted pistachios meet the generally accepted definition of a complete protein for people over five years of age. This means that pistachios now join the ranks of a small number of plant proteins, including quinoa, chickpeas and soybeans, that have become popular animal protein alternatives among vegetarians and health-conscious consumers.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and while the body can naturally produce 11 of them, there are nine essential amino acids the body cannot make and therefore must obtain through food. Roasted pistachios have been determined to possess adequate levels of all nine of these essential amino acids based on a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).1 As such, roasted pistachios meet the requirements for classification as a complete protein by the Food and Drug Administration. 2 In addition to being classified as a complete protein, roasted pistachios also meet the USDA definition of an alternate source of protein for school meals,3 and in Europe, pistachios meet the threshold for a source of protein.
Most other sources of complete proteins are meat, fish, eggs or dairy products. While quinoa, chickpeas and soy are plant-based proteins cited by the FDA as a complete protein,1 "the vast majority of plant-based foods are 'incomplete' proteins, meaning they are deficient in one or more of the essential amino acids," explains Dr. Arianna Carughi, Science Advisor to American Pistachio Growers, the trade association for the U.S. pistachio industry. To create a complete protein would require combining two incomplete proteins at once or within a day.
"This news is particularly exciting for active adults and athletes who want the convenience of a complete protein that's portable and doesn't require cooking," said Nigel Mitchell, BSC, MSC, RD, author of The Plant Based Cyclist and nutritionist for multiple pro and British national sports teams. "As a complete protein, roasted pistachios contribute to the varied and balanced diet and healthy lifestyle important for good health."
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. For more information, visit AmericanPistachios.org.
USA: Judy Hirigoyen
PH: (001) 559-475-0435
EU Science Advisor: Jennette Higgs
PH: (0044) 770 446 7494
SOURCE American Pistachio Growers