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Pistachios Could Lower Markers of Metabolic Syndrome

Previous studies have shown that pistachios aren't just a tasty snack: they may also help lower cholesterol. However, the high fat content of pistachios has resulted in fears that daily consumption could lead to weight gain, counterbalancing the heart health benefits.

Researchers from UCLA, Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital and the Military General Hospital of Beijing investigated the exact effects of pistachio consumption on blood lipid profiles and weight gain. Their findings were published on April 3, 2012, in Nutrition Journal.

Study participants included 90 adults with metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes.

All the participants received four weeks of dietary counseling that followed the guidelines of the American Heart Association Step I diet. They were then assigned to consume either 1.5 oz. of pistachios (the daily recommended serving), 2.5 oz. of pistachios, or no pistachios daily for 12 weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that glucose values 2 hours after a glucose challenge were significantly lower for participants in both pistachio groups compared to baseline levels. No significant change was seen in the control group. Additionally, lower serum triglyceride levels were noted in the 1.5 oz pistachio group, but not the other two groups.

The researchers concluded that daily consumption of 1.5 oz or 2.5 oz of pistachios does not lead to weight gain or an increase in waist-to-hip ratio but may improve blood glucose and triglyceride levels, two markers of metabolic syndrome.

The best way to protect yourself from metabolic syndrome is through regular exercise and a healthy diet, which this study suggests should include some pistachios. Consider keeping a little bag with you to snack on during the day instead of turning to high fat, low nutritional value foods such as chips and cookies.

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