A new study in the Journal of Nutrition this month (June 2010), reveals the power of pistachios.
Researchers put 28 adults with high cholesterol on three different diets to observe the effect of pistachios on blood cholesterol, specifically LDL, or bad, cholesterol that had been oxidized. Oxidized LDL cholesterol is what creates plaque in arteries and is most associated with heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. (Free radicals cause LDL cholesterol to become oxidized, and so antioxidant nutrients also help prevent oxidation.)
Study participants followed a lower-fat diet without pistachios, then switched to a higher-fat diet with one or two servings of pistachios each day. When the pistachios were consumed, participants had significantly higher blood levels of antioxidant nutrients lutein, alpha-carotene and β-carotene, as well as lower levels of oxidized and total LDL cholesterol.
Including pistachios in a healthy diet prevents heart disease and stroke by lowering oxidized LDL cholesterol and naturally increasing antioxidant nutrients. And since studies show pistachios and other nuts don't cause weight gain (refer to past blog post More Nuts Please), we are free to eat pistachios!