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Diet & Health : Heart & Blood Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Eating pistachio benefits cardiovascular health
By Ben Wasserman
Apr 9, 2008 - 9:41:21 AM

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WEDNESDAY April 9, 2008 ( -- Eating pistachio benefits heart health, according to a study presented this week at the Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego.  

The study showed eating pistachio improves cardiovascular health by significantly reducing inflammation in the body.  

Inflammation is a recognized risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which remains the number one cause of death in the United States.

Early studies have showed a diet rich in pistachio is good for cardiovascular health.

"Pistachios contain many important nutrients that contribute to their positive effect on health. Every new study adds another piece to the puzzle of how eating pistachios may benefit heart health," said Dr. Constance Geiger, nutrition expert for the Western Pistachio Association (WPA).

For the study, Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton from Penn State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences and colleagues looked at the effects of pistachio on multiple CVD risk factors.

In the study, 28 healthy men and women aged 30 to 70 with slightly elevated cholesterol levels.  Participants were assigned three diets, one without pistachio and two with various levels of pistachio (1.5 ounces and 3.0 ounces).  

In all diets, saturated and cholesterol levels were the same, but levels of unsaturated fat from pistachio differed.

Participants used the same diet for two weeks, which served as a baseline. Then each subject used all diets for a period of four weeks, and results were measured after each diet cycle was completed.

Compared to baseline, both diets with 1.5 and 3.0 ounce pistachio resulted in reduction of total cholesterol (TC) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).

Pistachio also reduced inflammation at the cellular level.

"Reducing inflammation at the cellular level is an important finding as it may be a more specific marker of inflammatory status than blood markers, which are general indicators of inflammation in the body," said Dr. Sarah Gebauer, Penn State University.

"We are truly excited about these results and what they mean for those at risk for cardiovascular disease."

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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