What’s So Great About Pistachios?

What’s So Great About Pistachios?

The tagline read “Pistachios are the skinny nut” and like a sucker, I was hooked. After all, the conundrum surrounding nuts has always been how to get all the nutty goodness they have to offer while avoiding the all too common pitfall of mindlessly eating a kilo of the little tempters thereby all but undoing any of the benefit AND incurring the cost of a whole new wardrobe to accommodate your new “nut butt”. And now this news?? Go on pistachios, we’re listening.

According to realage.com “A new study suggests that human bodies don’t absorb all the calories in pistachios, because the fat from this nut isn’t readily absorbed by the intestinal tract”. Because of this little loophole, researchers estimate that unlike other nuts which supply 9 calories per gram of fat, pistachios caloric content has actually been “overestimated by about 6 percent, given the number of calories that actually get absorbed”. I’m no math wizard but that’s about …..well, I’m no math wizard.

So great, a little deficit in the calorie content of a munchy snack is a good thing. But do they stand up to the almighty almond and the holier than thou walnut in the “nuts will save your life” debate? Oh yes, my friend. First, pistachios contain arginine which is known to prevent hardening of the arteries. According to livestrong.com, one serving (about 50 nuts…take that 10 almonds) provides 12% of our daily fibre needs, key to all manner of health benefits including keeping cholesterol at bay, preventing certain cancers and maintaining…ahem….regularity. And like all nuts, they provide heart friendly unsaturated omega fatty acids.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that pistachios (just 2 ounces a day in a clinical trial) “raised serum levels of gamma-tocotrienol, a member of the vitamin E family linked to a decreased risk of lung cancer”. In fact the researchers were excited to find that pistachios were actually higher in many antioxidants” including lutein, beta carotene and gamma tocopherol.

Add this to the fact that these same researchers, in another study, showed that adding pistachios to the diet (about 20% of the subjects’ daily calories) significantly lowered the cholesterol profile of people at potential risk for heart disease. Penn State lead researcher Penny Kris-Etherton reported in a recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “after eating a pistachio-enriched diet, the participants had lower oxidized-LDL concentrations in their blood than those eating the Step 1 control diet” (Step 1 is a diet protocol for people with elevated cholesterol).   In fact, “compared to the control diet, the pistachio diet lowered LDL cholesterol — bad cholesterol — about 12 percent which suggests a 12 percent decrease in coronary heart disease risk”.

And the researchers say that the results astounded even them. According to the report “the reduction in LDL cholesterol observed was seven times greater than would be expected from only the fatty acid profile of pistachios. They suggest that the lipid lowering effects are also the result of other bioactive substances in pistachios, perhaps phytosterols and fibre”. So while they may not have entirely unravelled the why of it all, the news is good for nut lovers and with Christmas just around the corner, the news is especially good for fans of my wildly decadent dark chocolate, pistachio fudge. Now if we could just figure out a cure for “fudge butt”.

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1 Comment

  1. Lisa
    October 11, 19:58 Reply

    Great news! thanks for this info.
    ps your tweets also cracked me up today

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