Snacking on pistachios can prove beneficial in reducing inflammation, which is one of the prominent cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, according to a new study.
The study, led by Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton from Penn State University's Department of Nutritional Sciences, has revealed that pistachios can significantly improve cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation.
The researchers examined the effects of pistachios on various CVD risk factors including cholesterol, blood pressure and the genetic expression of various genes related to inflammation.
They conducted randomised control trials over 28 healthy men and women between 30-70 years and had a slightly elevated cholesterol levels.
It tested three cholesterol-lowering diets, one without pistachio consumption and two with varied levels of pistachios in relation to total caloric intake.
All diets provided the same amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, but different amounts of unsaturated fat delivered by pistachios. They were given the same diet for two weeks, which served as a baseline before the test diets began.
"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).
At the end of each study period, cells were isolated from all subjects and genetic expression of inflammation markers was measured.
The findings revealed that cholesterol levels, a prominent risk factor for CVD, improved with pistachio consumption. Moreover, it also significantly 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," she added.
Previous studies have also shown that eating pistachios can reduce the body's response to the stresses of everyday life and when taken with some high carbohydrate food can significantly reduce high blood sugar levels.
The study will be presented this week at the Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego.