Pistachios: A handful a day may keep the cardiologist away

May 17, 2010
This chart offers a comparison of the various heart healthy nutrients offered by pistachios. Credit: PistachioHealth.com

A study published last week in Archives of Internal Medicine found that a diet containing nuts, including pistachios, significantly lowered total and LDL-cholesterol levels, in addition to triglycerides. The 600 subject, 25 clinical trial study, conducted in seven counties, is the most comprehensive study of its kind and further substantiates the evidence that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The report, authored by Dr. Joan Sabaté of Loma Linda University's School of Public Health, and funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, set out to quantify the cholesterol-reducing benefits of various , such as , by analyzing previously published human clinical trials.

A Daily Dose of Nuts Offers Significant Results

The authors reviewed the results of 25 human clinical trials published from 1992 through 2007. The analysis included data from 583 men and women, aged 19 to 86 years old. Among the studies, nut consumption ranged from less than one ounce to 4.75 ounces per day. The average daily intake for the meta-analysis was 67 grams per day or 2.4 ounces.

The results found that when 67 grams of nuts were consumed, triglycerides were reduced by 10.2 percent among those with high triglyceride levels at the onset of the study; and total and LDL-cholesterol were lowered by 5.1 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Individuals with higher baseline LDL-cholesterol levels also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels compared to those with normal baseline LDL levels. Subjects following a typical Western-diet also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels (-7.4 percent and - 9.6 percent, respectively) compared to a low-fat (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively) or a Mediterranean diet (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively).

Another important finding was that greater lowering benefits were seen in individuals with a lower BMI compared to those with a higher BMI. Additionally, cholesterol levels were reduced in a dose-dependent result, with benefits seen in as low as a one-ounce serving per day; the greatest benefits were seen when 20 percent of calories were consumed daily from nuts. For the typical 2,000-calorie , 20 percent equals 400 calories of nuts or 2.4 ounces (about 120) pistachios.

Pistachios' Unique Nutrient Profile Provides "Hearty" Promise

"Enjoying a handful or two of in-shell pistachios may provide significant heart health benefits," said Martin Yadrick, M.B.A., R.D., immediate past-president of the American Dietetic Association. "They are known to also improve blood vessel function, blood sugar control, act as potent antioxidant and offer weight management benefits, all of which are important for improving heart health."

With more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients, in-shell pistachios are a nutrient-rich snack. In fact, pistachios provide more potassium and phytosterols than any other nut and are the only nut to contain the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. They also have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all nuts.

Explore further: Distracted driving among teens threatens public health and safety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pistachios may reduce lung cancer risk

Dec 08, 2009

A diet that incorporates a daily dose of pistachios may help reduce the risk of lung and other cancers, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, ...

Recommended for you

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care (Update)

3 hours ago

President Barack Obama said Thursday 8 million Americans have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Our brains are hardwired for language

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language univer ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...