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Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
Date:9/26/2008

the ratio of two fatty acids, 16:1 and 16:0 in plasma as a marker for SCD, an enzyme that is involved in the body's synthesis of fatty acids.

"SCD is an important enzyme involved in cholesterol metabolism," says Gebauer.

They found the ratio of 16:1/16:0 was significantly lower, suggesting a decrease in SCD activity, after eating the 20 percent energy pistachio diet compared to the control diet which had no pistachios. Also, the change in the 16:1/16:0 ratio was correlated with the change in cholesterol, suggesting that SCD activity may contribute to the lipid-lowering effects of pistachios. That, accompanied by the dose-dependent effects of the pistachios, begins to unravel the way in which pistachios improve cardiovascular health.

Compared to the control diet, the 20 percent pistachio diet lowered LDL cholesterol -- bad cholesterol -- about 12 percent and the 10 percent energy pistachio diet lowered LDL cholesterol by 9 percent that suggests a 9 to 12 percent decrease in coronary heart disease risk. The relationships of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol may be more powerful predictors of cardiovascular risk. The effects of the 10 and 20 percent energy diets showed a dose dependent effect on these ratios.

However, the researchers note that 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 not only reflect the fatty acid profile of the diet, but also are the result of other bioactive substances in pistachios, perhaps phytosterols and fiber.

"Our study has shown that pistachios, eaten with a heart healthy diet, may decrease a person's CVD risk profile, says Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition and primary investigator of the study."


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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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