Pistachio nut, green way to keep your heart healthy

September 27th, 2008 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 27 (IANS) Pistachio nuts lower cholesterol levels and may be good for keeping your heart healthy in a green way, according to a new study. “We investigated mechanisms to explain the cholesterol-lowering effects of the pistachio diets,” said Sarah K. Gebauer from Penn State University, one of the co-authors of the study.

The researchers conducted a randomised, controlled feeding experiment to test the effects of pistachios added to a heart healthy moderate-fat diet on cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The participants began the study by eating a typical American diet consisting of 35 percent total fat and 11 percent saturated fat for two weeks, according to a Penn State University statement.

They then tested three diets for four weeks each with about a two-week break between each diet. All three diets were variations on the Step-1 Diet, a cholesterol-lowering diet in general use.

The findings were published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The diets included, as a control, a Step-1 Diet with no pistachios and about 25 percent total fat and eight percent saturated fat. The pistachio enhanced diets were Step 1 Diets with 10 and 20 percent of the energy supplied by pistachio nuts, respectively.

The 10 percent pistachio diet had 30 percent total fat and eight percent saturated fat and the 20 percent pistachio diet had 34 percent total fat and eight percent saturated fat. Participants ate half their pistachios as a snack and the rest incorporated into meals.

The researchers reported that “inclusion of pistachios in a healthy diet beneficially affects cardiovascular disease risk factors in a dose-dependent manner, which may reflect effects on Stearoyl CoA Desaturase (SCD).”

“SCD is an important enzyme involved in cholesterol metabolism,” said Gebauer.

Researchers also noted that reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol observed was seven times greater than would be expected from only the fatty acid profile of pistachios.

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