The Health Benefits of Pistachios: Heart Health, Eye Health, Cancer Prevention
Although from Western Asia originally, pistachios have been eaten for thousands of years throughout the Mediterranean. Nuts in general are a great source of protein and healthy fats, but did you know that pistachios have numerous additional benefits? Scientists have found these little tough nuts to be useful in preventing cancer, lowering lipids in the prevention of heart disease, and preventing diabetes, all while delivering a good source of antioxidants. And these aren’t the only health benefits of pistachios.
Outlining the Health Benefits of Pistachios
A study published by the American Association for Cancer Research indicates that people who ate about 2 ounces of pistachios a day for four weeks saw higher blood levels of gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E. Gamma-tocopherol is known to protect against various cancers, including lung cancer. A powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, the vitamin E in pistachios is also essential for beautiful skin, protection from UV radiation damage, and strengthening cell membranes.
Another study found that eating pistachios lowered lipids and lipoproteins, a risk factor for heart disease. The researchers report that “Inclusion of pistachios in a healthy diet beneficially affects cardiovascular disease risk factors in a dose-dependent manner, which may reflect effects on Stearoyl CoA Desaturase (SCD). ” Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition and primary investigator of the study also says: “our study has shown that pistachios, eaten with a heart healthy diet, may decrease a person’s CVD risk profile.”
According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, a diet rich in pistachios (1.5 to 3 ounces per day) was linked to increased beta-carotene and gamma-tocopherol in the blood.
There is evidence that pistachios, rich in phosphorus, may have positive effects on the prevention of Type 2 diabetes, aiding in glucose tolerance. Vitamin B6 in pistachios can increase blood health by boosting the amount of oxygen carried in the blood stream, boost the immune system, and help support a healthy nervous system. The antioxidants found in pistachios can also prevent a harmful process called glycation, which makes proteins unusable. This process ultimately helps diabetes to damages tissues, as sugars end up bonding inappropriately.
Other research shows that a diet rich in pistachios (1.5 to 3 ounces per day) was linked to increased beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and gamma-tocopherol in the blood. The carotenoids found in pistachios offer overall protection from free radicals, and also help to decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration – a primary cause of vision problems and developed blindness. Alpha carotene-rich foods have also been shown to prevent cancer and heart disease.
How to Increase Pistachio Consumption
So, how can you increase your pistachio consumption and reap the health benefits of pistachios? Easily. These little nuts make a great snack. Here are some ideas:
- Throw pistachios on a salad
- Serve them with fruit
- Munch on them during a movie
- Chop and cook them with brown rice and herbs
- Add them to a natural, homemade trail mix
- Use them in place of pine nuts in a pesto
- Crush them, make a paste with garlic and olive oil, and serve on top of baked salmon as a pistachio butter
It’s not difficult to get a few ounces of pistachios into your daily diet; the nuts are versatile and so tasty. And with the multiple health benefits of pistachios, they should be at the top of your go-to health food list!
Benefit Summary – Pistachios are great for:
- Heart health
- Eye health
- Skin health
- Diabetes control
- Cancer prevention
- Immune system
- Slowing aging process