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Pistachios contain phytosterols, compounds similar in structure to cholesterol that can inhibit cholesterol absorption by the body. They are also an excellent source of heart healthy vitamin B6.
The health benefits of pistachios are similar to those of other nuts that provide a high content of monounsaturated fat and arginine. Additionally, pistachios are a very good source of both magnesium and potassium, two minerals that protect against high blood pressure.
Given their heart-healthy constituents, it's not surprising that two recent clinical research trials have demonstrated that including pistachios regularly in the diet significantly improves lipid profiles in humans with both normal and moderately elevated blood levels of cholesterol. In one study, pistachios were substituted for 20 percent of the daily caloric intake in ten patients with moderately elevated blood cholesterol levels who followed a traditional American diet (35 to 39 percent of their calories from fat). After three weeks, the result was a significant decrease in both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, plus an increase in levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. In the other study, including 2 to 3.5 ounces of pistachios in a low-fat diet (30 percent calories from fat) produced a 5 to 12 percent lowering of total cholesterol and a 10 to 15 percent drop in LDL cholesterol.
In addition to their healthy fats and sterols, pistachios contain a compound with anti-inflammatory effects. In a 2001 animal study, this compound, oleanolic acid, was found to alleviate dermatitis because of its ability to inhibit the production of the proinflammatory agent leukotriene B4.
Another recent study evaluated the long held belief in Jordanian folk medicine that pistachios are an effective treatment for jaundice. When intoxicated rats were given a dose of 4 milliliters per kilogram of body weight of a water extract of pistachio, the liver-damaging activity of three enzymes -- alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase -- was significantly reduced, along with bilirubin levels. (Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment in bile whose accumulation is a primary symptom of jaundice.) Thus it appears that the practice of using pistachios as a folk remedy for jaundice has merit.
Often vilified for their fat content, pistachio nuts are actually high in healthful unsaturated fats that can help keep your cholesterol under control. They’re also a surprisingly filling snack that can replace other treats that leave you hungry soon after you munch.
Further, research shows that they may also be good for staving off diabetes. In a group of prediabetic individuals, eating pistachio nuts was associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers, better blood sugar and insulin levels and fewer markers of insulin resistance.
This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.
Pistachio nuts have iron, calcium, selenium, thiamine as well as healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that play a role in lowering blood cholesterol. They also contain fiber, which aids in digestion. Studies show that selenium helps to prevent diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and infections. It is found in small quantities in many foods so include a variety of items in your daily diet. Be sure to include pistachio nuts to ensure a good selenium intake. The serving size is 49 kernels or 1oz.
Pistachio nuts can help prevent two common chronic diseases, says diet and disease prevention specialist Dr. William Li. To learn more about the health benefits of pistachios, watch this video.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.