A diet containing nuts, including pistachios, can significantly lower total and LDL-cholesterol levels, in addition to triglycerides, according to a new study.
Published in Archives of Internal Medicine, the 600-subject, 25 clinical trial study, conducted in seven counties, is the most comprehensive study of its kind and further substantiates the evidence that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The report, authored by Dr. Joan Sabaté of Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health, and funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, set out to quantify the cholesterol-reducing benefits of various nuts, such as pistachios, by analyzing previously published human clinical trials.
To reach the conclusion, the authors reviewed the results of 25 human clinical trials published from 1992 through 2007. The analysis included data from 583 men and women, aged 19 to 86 years old. Among the studies, nut consumption ranged from less than one ounce to 4.75 ounces a day. The average daily intake for the meta-analysis was 67 grams per day or 2.4 ounces.
The results found that when 67 grams of nuts were consumed, triglycerides were reduced by 10.2 percent among those with high triglyceride levels at the onset of the study; and total and LDL-cholesterol was lowered by 5.1 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Individuals with higher baseline LDL-cholesterol levels also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels compared to those with normal baseline LDL levels. Subjects following a typical Western-diet also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels (-7.4 percent and – 9.6 percent, respectively) compared to a low-fat (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively) or a Mediterranean diet (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively).
“Enjoying a handful or two of in-shell pistachios may provide significant heart health benefits,” said Martin Yadrick, M.B.A., R.D., immediate past-president of the American Dietetic Association. “They are known to also improve blood vessel function, blood sugar control, act as potent antioxidant and offer weight management benefits, all of which are important for improving heart health.”