Researchers at Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain, Institute of Health Pere Virgili, CIBER, discovered that eating just a handful of pistachios as part of their diet can positively affect cellular aging and longevity, reports American Pistachio Growers. The study is the first of its kind to determine the positive effects of pistachio consumption among prediabetics.
As a result of poor lifestyle choices and eating habits, especially for those with metabolic conditions such as prediabetes, the rate of oxidative damage to DNA and telomere shortening can increase over time. Often times, this is associated with heightened instance of disease.
Oxidative damage can be caused by unhealthy diets and exposure to tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes, UV from the sun and radiation. Consequently, the damage speeds up cellular aging, health span and telomere loss. Telomeres are the protective caps on chromosomes and play a fundamental role in human chromosomal stability, acting as clocks that determine the number of replications a cell makes.
In a study with 49 prediabetic participants, researchers found that with the daily consumption of pistachios, DNA damage decreased, and the expression of telomere-related genes increased, all due to adding two ounces of pistachios into their snacking routine.
In addition to these newfound anti-damage capabilities, pistachios also contain lutein, an antioxidant carotenoid, known as "nature's internal sunglasses," which helps shield healthy eyes from harmful, high-energy light waves like ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Although many colorful foods are sources of lutein, pistachios are the only nut to contain significant amounts.
"In a previous study we demonstrated a beneficial effect of pistachio consumption on glucose and insulin metabolism. Now, we extend our results to the prevention of oxidative damage to the DNA," said Monica Bullo Bonet, one of the researchers of the study.
With summer in full swing, finding a satisfying and nutritious snack is more important than ever, and pistachios have proven to be a health-conscious option that works to help manage certain damaging metabolic consequences of prediabetes. Additionally, because of their lutein content, pistachios may help protect against certain eye conditions from aging.