By Carl Hanson

Snack time is the right time for breaking into a stash of pistachios. Here are 5 reasons we can't get enough:

Cup of Pistachios | Photo by Meredith

1. Pistachios are a healthy snack.

Those addictive green morsels pack plenty of nutrition, including fiber, protein, antioxidants, heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, "bad" cholesterol-lowering sterols, and vitamin E -- plus iron, magnesium, and potassium.

2. They're low calorie.

As it turns out, pistachios are one of the lower-calorie nuts. Per 1-ounce serving, dry-roasted pistachios have 162 calories. Which compares favorably to dry-roasted pecans (201 calories), walnuts (185), and dry-roasted almonds (170). Pistachio's cousin, the cashew is also on the lighter side, weighing it at 163 calories (for dry-roasted cashews).

3. Pistachios let you know when you've had enough.

Here's a reason to buy them with their shells on. A recent study showed that shelling pistachios yourself resulted in 41-percent fewer calories consumed. Is it because shelling as you go slows you down? Maybe. But research suggests it might also be that the empty shells piling up beside you serve as a visual reminder of how much you've already eaten. The end result, you eat less.

4. They're fun to eat.

Beyond the addictive, buttery taste of the nuts themselves, there's simply something satisfying about cracking apart the semi-split shells and prizing out the pretty greenish nuts -- it's all part of the compulsion that makes eating just a few pistachios nearly impossible.

5. Pistachios are fun to share.

Unless you're the Queen of Sheba. Back in the time of King Solomon, if you broke into a stash of pistachios, woe unto thee -- because the Queen of Sheba called dibs on 'em -- all of 'em, every last one of the pistachios harvested in her realm. If you were not among the favorites in her royal court, this meant no pistachios for you. Lucky us, we have pistachios a-plenty, and we're willing to share!

Once snack time is over, save some pistachios for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are some suggestions:

Finely chop pistachios for coating fish or chicken. Or combine them with bread crumbs.

Salmon with pistachios | Photo by Meredith

Top green salads and fruit salads with pistachios -- also chicken salads!

Citrus salad with pistachios | Photo by Meredith

Add them to muffins, granola, cereal, and biscotti.

Muffins with pistachios | Photo by Meredith

Add pistachios to pilaf and other rice dishes.

Photo by fabeveryday