Nut-loving consumers looking to lose a few pounds can feel better about keeping pistachios at hand as a result of a new study. The study, published in the July 20 issue of Nutrients, shows adding U.S. pistachios to the diet can contribute to weight loss, in the context of a calorie-restricted diet in a behavioral intervention, and may contribute additional health benefits such as lowering blood pressure. While several scientific studies have shown pistachios are helpful in maintaining a healthy weight, or will not cause weight gain, this is the first to examine the role of pistachios as part of a weight loss plan in a real world setting.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego investigated whether U.S. pistachios could be used as part of a weight loss program in a study with 100 healthy, overweight and obese individuals. All participants received general dietary and behavioral weight loss advice, and instruction on ways to increase their physical activity. Half of the participants included 1.5 ounces of pistachios in their daily diet (Pistachio group) and the other half did not (Control group). Researchers measured the participants’ health information, diet and lab tests for cardiovascular disease risk at the beginning and end of the 4-month study.
According to the researchers, both groups lost about 5 percent of their body weight and both significantly decreased their waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). Waist circumference and BMI are indicators of not only obesity, but whether or not you may be at risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition to these measurements, there were added benefits to the Pistachio group, including lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, increased fiber intake and lower consumption of sweets than the Control group. The Pistachio group also had higher blood levels of the antioxidant carotenoids of lutein, alpha- and beta-carotene and a healthier ratio of poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids.
According to the lead researcher, Cheryl Rock PhD, RD, “this study adds to the body of evidence that U.S. pistachios can be a component of a weight loss diet, can increase intake of key nutrients, and can promote a healthy dietary pattern”.
Studies have shown U.S. pistachios have a unique set of nutrients that have multiple health benefits. In March, it was announced pistachios are a complete protein, containing all 9 of the essential amino acids required to sustain health for those 5 years and older. This was discovered when the protein quality of pistachios was analyzed by the University of Illinois. They have mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids which are beneficial for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, contain the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which have protective properties for the eyes from blue light and ultraviolet light, and are a good source of fiber and vitamin B6. For more information and studies, visit AmericanPistachios.org.