Pistachios are Helpful to the Heart

Posted on Aug 13, 2008 in Cardiovascular Health, Health & Wellness

Yesterday I bought some pistachios, because I like them, and wondered if they were any good for me. Probably not I thought. Everything I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening. So I decided to find out a little about them. I was surprised at what I came up with. Along with heart-healthy fats, pistachios contain cardio protective nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Research suggests that a handful or two of pistachio nuts a day could keep heart disease at bay. They appear to lower cholesterol and keep arteries healthy. Just three ounces of pistachios a day is enough to significantly lower the risk of heart disease.The nuts are thought to be rich in nutrients that reduce hardening of the arteries, one of the main causes of heart Attacks and strokes.

During one study, volunteers were asked to supplement a low-fat diet with pistachios. Some ate 1.5 ounces of the nuts a day, while others had double that amount, either alone as a snack or incorporating them into cereal, muffins and pesto sauce. A third group did not eat any pistachios.

After one month, cholesterol levels were significantly lower among the pistachio-eaters. Those who ate the most nuts experienced the biggest decrease in cholesterol. Eating three ounces of pistachios a day cut cholesterol levels by 8.4 percent, with LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol dropping by 11.6 percent.

The pistachio study was carried out by researchers at Pennsylvania State University. Lead researcher Dr. Penny Kris Etherton said: ‘Our study had shown that eating pistachios, along with a healthy heart diet, may decrease a person’s cardiovascular disease risk profile.’

Pistachios are rich in an antioxidant called lutein, usually found in green leafy vegetables and brightly colored fruit. Present at higher levels in the pistachio than other nuts, lutein helps prevent cholesterol from clogging up arteries. Experts say it is best to eat unsalted rather than salted pistachios as too much salt can raise blood pressure. But, both types should have the same effect on cholesterol.

For an easy on-the-go snack, toss together some pistachio kernels and raisins in a Ziploc bag.