There have been many studies that have said that consuming nuts is only helpful in satiating unwanted hunger pangs, but also in weight loss. Among the many nuts that are considered healthy is pistachio, which when consumed regularly is not only known to aid weight loss, but also believed to lower blood pressure. According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, in a study ascertaining whether US pistachios could be used as part of a weight loss program for 100 healthy, overweight and obese individuals, it was established that regular pistachios consumption could promote weight loss.
All participants received general dietary and behavioral weight loss advice, and instruction on ways to increase their physical activity as part of the study. While half of the participants included 1.5 ounces of pistachios in their daily diet (pistachio group), 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 four-month study.
The study, published in the July 2020 issue of Nutrients, shows adding US pistachios to one’s diet can aid weight loss provided a calorie-restricted diet is consumed which may contribute to additional health benefits such as lowering blood pressure.
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”.
According to the researchers, both groups lost about five per cent 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 one is at risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. But the similarity ends there. 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. Besides that, they contain the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which have protective properties for the eyes from blue light and ultraviolet light, and are a good source of fibre and vitamin B6.
Notably, studies indicate that US pistachios have a unique set of nutrients that have multiple health benefits as they are a complete protein, containing all nine of the essential amino acids required to sustain health for those five years and older. This was discovered when the protein quality of pistachios was analysed by the University of Illinois.