Pistachios

Study Demonstrates the Significant
Heart Health Benefits of Pistachios

Pistachios are particularly valuable for cardiovascular
health because they have some of the highest
antioxidant capacities of all nuts and contain more
beta carotene, tocopherols and lutein than many
vegetables.

A diet that includes pistachios could help improve
heart health, according to a new study, which
suggests that regular servings of the nuts reduce the
risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that a pistachio-enriched diet
resulted in increases in serum antioxidants and
decreases in oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDL),
or so-called 'bad' cholesterol, when compared to a
diet without pistachios.

The study, conducted by researchers at The
Pennsylvania State University, is published in the
June 2010 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

It adds to a growing body of science supporting the
health benefits, and the heart benefits in particular, of
increased consumption of nuts, such as almonds,
macadamia, and walnuts.

However, pistachios have one of the highest
antioxidant capacities of all nuts and contain more
b-carotene, g-tocopherol and lutein, an antioxidant
also found in dark green leafy vegetables.

This latest study was completed by 10 males and 18
females who were healthy and non-smoking, aged
35-61 and with moderately elevated LDL-cholesterol.

Participants consumed a typical Western diet for two
weeks as a baseline diet. They were then randomized
to each of the three experimental diets for four weeks -
a lower-fat control diet without pistachios, a diet with
one serving of pistachios (ie 32-63 g/d) and a diet
with two servings of pistachios (63-126g/d).

The results suggest that consumption of pistachios in
the context of a heart-healthy diet confers
cardioprotective benefits "beyond established
lipid-lowering effects, including a decrease in
oxidized LDL". This, the researchers believe, is the
result of both a decrease in LDL cholesterol
concentrations and an increase in serum antioxidants,
such as lutein and gamma tocopherol.

"These data suggest that a heart-healthy diet rich in
pistachios has a beneficial effect on serum
antioxidants, as well as oxidized-LDL. Beneficial
effects on multiple CVD risk factors would be
expected to reduce overall CVD risk beyond that
achieved by decreases in LDL-cholesterol alone
through lowering cholesterol and the benefits of the
antioxidants in the nuts."

The market potential of heart health benefits has been
highlighted by America's Western Pistachio
Association (WPA), which has worked with Penn
State University regarding the potential health
benefits of the nuts.

In 2008 research carried out at the university and
funded by the WPA found that pistachios significantly
reduced inflammation at a cellular level, a recognized
risk factor for heart disease, as well as reducing
cholesterol and blood pressure.

The authors of the latest research said that previous
studies were conducted in free-living individuals and
none controlled for SFA or antioxidant content of the
background diets.

They added that their study of the antioxidant effects
of pistachios was "unique" because it "utilized a
controlled-feeding crossover design and two doses of
pistachios and controlled for saturated fat intake".

Source: The Journal of Nutrition

Pistachios Increase Serum Antioxidants and Lower
Serum Oxidized-LDL in Hypercholesterolemic Adults
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