Nut-loving consumers looking to lose a few pounds can feel better about keeping pistachios at hand as a result of a new study. The study, published in the July 20 issue of Nutrients, shows adding U.S. pistachios to the diet can contribute to weight loss, in the context of a calorie-restricted diet in a behavioral intervention, and may contribute additional health benefits such as lowering blood pressure.
While several scientific studies have shown pistachios are helpful in maintaining a healthy weight, or will not cause weight gain, this is the first to examine the role of pistachios as part of a weight loss plan in a real world setting.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego investigated whether U.S. pistachios could be used as part of a weight loss program in a study with 100 healthy, overweight and obese individuals.
All participants received general dietary and behavioral weight loss advice, and instruction on ways to increase their physical activity. Half of the participants included 1.5 ounces of pistachios in their daily diet (Pistachio group) and the other half did not (Control group). Researchers measured the participants’ health information, diet and lab tests for cardiovascular disease risk at the beginning and end of the 4-month study.
According to the researchers, both groups lost about 5 percent of their body weight and both significantly decreased their waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). Waist circumference and BMI are indicators of not only obesity, but whether or not you may be at risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to these measurements, there were added benefits to the Pistachio group, including lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, increased fiber intake and lower consumption of sweets than the Control group.
The Pistachio group also had higher blood levels of the antioxidant carotenoids of lutein, alpha- and beta-carotene and a healthier ratio of poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids.
According to the lead researcher, Cheryl Rock PhD, RD, “this study adds to the body of evidence that U.S. pistachios can be a component of a weight loss diet, can increase intake of key nutrients, and can promote a healthy dietary pattern”.
"India is a growing market for American Pistachios and this news will greatly motivate consumers to include these nuts in their diet," says Sumit Saran, India representative of American Pistachio Growers. "In India, discerning consumers are always looking for foods that assist them in their weight loss process. In fact, we are seeing a growing trend of consumers who weigh themselves on a daily/weekly basis. American Pistachios are the prefect snack for those who don't snack," Saran adds.