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A Handful of Pistachios a Day Helps to Keep Your Heart Healthy

br> All subjects consumed their normal diets during a five-day baseline period. Then, half the subjects were randomised to the pistachio diet for four weeks followed by four weeks on the regular diet; the other half followed the diets in reverse order.

Subjects were instructed to substitute the pistachio nuts for normally consumed high-fat snacks. Subjects who did not normally consume high-fat snacks were asked to substitute pistachio nuts as fat calories. Otherwise, subjects consumed their normal diets.

The researchers found that not only did adding pistachios in the diet favourably improved some blood lipid levels, but the subjects also showed no changes in blood pressure, body mass index, or weight gain; further supporting previous studies which have also demonstrated no weight gain from the addition of pistachios to a daily diet.

Nut consumption, in general, is associated with a lower body mass index and has not been shown to cause weight gain.

Most of the fat in pistachios - almost 90 percent - is "good" or monounsaturated fat, which can lower blood cholesterol along with heart disease. Of all snack nuts, pistachios offer the highest level of phytosterols, and are a powerful source of fiber, both of which reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the diet. Pistachios make a wise snack choice as they are contain dense levels of eight nutrients including thiamin, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium, fibre, phosphorus and magnesium.

High levels of most blood lipids increase the risk of developing both heart disease and stroke while lowering blood lipid levels has been shown to reduce the risk. Lipids join with protein in the blood to form lipoproteins, known as cholesterol.

The research appears in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.


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