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Pistachios Promote Good Gut Health

Recent studies have shown that nuts provide a wide range of health benefits, from preventing heart disease and diabetes to strengthening bones. The latest study suggests that pistachios in particular could potentially help maintain good important gut microbes.

The study was presented as an abstract at the 2012 American Society for Nutrition. The researchers were based at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland.

Sixteen individuals participated in the study. All of them consumed the same American-style pre-planned diet but were assigned either 0 ounces, 1.5 ounces, or 3 ounces of pistachios or almonds daily.

The researchers collected stool samples throughout the 19 day study period and examined the bacterial composition, including lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.

At the end of the study, the researchers noted that participants who consumed up to 3 ounces of pistachios daily (equivalent to approximately 147 nuts) had increased levels of beneficial gut bacteria. Particularly, an increase was seen in butyrate-producing bacteria, which is thought to play an important role in colonic health.

The pistachio group showed a higher increase in gut microbes than the almond group.

The researchers believe that these positive effects come from the fiber found in pistachios that provide “prebiotic” qualities. Prebiotics are the nutrients that feed the bacteria in your gut, known as probiotics.

Pistachios also have high levels of protein and antioxidants and have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration (age related vision loss), strengthen the immune system and protect against heart attacks. To maximize the benefits of pistachios and nuts in general, it is important to avoid salted, oil-roasted nuts.

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