Nuts about good health

Nuts about good health

Five new studies released over the last two years highlight the health benefits of pistachios, which nutritionists hope will make consumers think twice before reaching for chips or other conventional snacks when hunger pangs strike.

“This, along with previous studies, only goes to prove that pistachios support a healthy body, maintain blood sugar levels and manage body weight,”  says Naini Setalvad, nutritionist and obesity health consultant.

Turkish researchers reported, in the journal Nutrition, that the replacement of olives with pistachios in a traditional Turkish-Mediterranean diet resulted in a decrease in blood glucose by approximately 8 per cent — a reduction of triglycerides by 19 per cent, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol by 22 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Pistachios also boosted blood-vessel dilation by almost 31 per cent, it stated. Snacking on pistachios is not only healthy for the heart, but can also make it easy for you to follow a healthy eating plan.

Ups antioxidants, lowers cholesterol
Italian researchers recently published a paper that revealed the nutrient value of pistachios. The nut is believed to pack in a variety of beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients that are present in tea (catechins), fruits, vegetables, red wine (anthocyanins) and soyfoods (isoflavones).  These categories of phytonutrients have been shown to possess anti-cancer and cardioprotective qualities. The research paper also adds that pistachios are one of the best sources of antioxidants among plant-based foods.

Pistachios provide cardiovascular benefits in a dose-dependent fashion. In a 2,000-calorie daily diet, 400 calories worth of pistachios is equal to approximately 120 nuts. One to two handfuls of pistachios, eaten every day, can naturally elevate protective antioxidants.

Pistachios trump carrots
Two nutrients found in pistachios may be the best to preserve and protect one’s eyesight.  In a recent study, published in the Journal of Food Science, researchers highlighted the ways in which lutein and zeaxanthin enhance vision by reducing eye strain, improving visual stimuli and protecting the eyes against harmful UVA and B rays.
The study also suggests that these carotenoids aid in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration. Pistachio contains significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.
A recent analysis of 25 human clinical trials (Archives of Internal Medicine) found that a diet containing nuts significantly lowered the total LDL-cholesterol levels.

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