|[August 11, 2014]
Pistachios May Contribute to Heart Health in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes
FRESNO, Calif. --(Business Wire)--
The benefits of including pistachios in a healthy diet extend to adults
with type 2 diabetes, according to a Pennsylvania State University study
published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, who were otherwise healthy,
participated in a randomized, controlled clinical study and showed a
more positive response to stress following a diet containing pistachios
than when following a standard low-fat control diet. The healthy diet,
which included two servings daily of pistachios, significantly reduced
peripheral vascular resistance, increased cardiac output, improved some
measure of heart rate variability and importantly reduced systolic
ambulatory blood pressure.
Dr. Sheila G. West, principal investigator and professor of
biobehavioral health and nutritional sciences at Penn State, and her
colleagues reported similar beneficial results in a study of adults with
elevated LDL cholesterol and stress, published two years ago.
Increasingly it has been found that pistachios, both salted and
unsalted, contribute to a heart-healthy diet in high-risk groups.
Pistachios contain good fats and fiber, potassium and magnesium.
In this Penn State study, test diets included a low-fat control diet
with high carbohydrate snacks (27 percent fat and 7 percent saturated
fat) compared to a moderate-fat diet (33 percent fat and 7 percent
saturated fat) that included 3 ounces, or 20 percent of the calories,
from pistachios. The servings consisted of equal amounts of salted and
unsalted nuts. All meals were provided to the 30 participants, an equal
number of men and women, ages 40-74. The calorie levels for the subjects
were based on the Harris-Benedict equation so that calories and body
weight did not change throughout the study.
A two-week run-in period on a typical western diet preceded the first
test diet. Participants discontinued all dietary supplements at least
two weeks prior to the beginning of the study. These adults were then
administered each test diet for four weeks, separated by two-week
compliance breaks, randomized and in a counterbalanced order. At the end
of each diet period, incuding the run-in weeks, participants underwent
Researchers measured blood pressure and total peripheral vascular
resistance, both at rest and during stress tests, which consisted of
holding a hand in ice water for more than two minutes and a difficult
math challenge. "After the pistachio diet, blood vessels remained more
relaxed and open during the stress tests," confirmed Dr. West. She
continued, "The pistachio diet reduced their bodies' responses to
Twenty-four hour systolic blood pressure was significantly lower
following the pistachio diet compared to the control diet, with the
largest reduction observed during sleep. According to Dr. Kathryn
Sauder, a co-investigator who conducted the measurements, "This finding
was important because individuals who do not display a dip in blood
pressure during sleep may be more likely to experience a cardiovascular
Dr. West concluded, "A moderate-fat diet containing pistachios may be an
effective intervention to reduce cardiovascular risk in persons with
type 2 diabetes." In spite of being obese and having a diabetes
diagnosis, participants had normal blood pressure and only moderate
dyslipidemia. However, even in relatively healthy diabetics, there is
room for improvement. The results of this study suggest that a healthy
diet containing pistachios can add to the protective effects of drugs
for persons with type 2 diabetes.
The researchers suggested future studies should enroll larger samples,
include ambulatory blood pressure as a primary outcome and test the
effectiveness of pistachio consumption on cardiovascular risk factors in
a free-living setting.
The study was supported by the American Pistachio Growers, Fresno,
Calif., with partial support from the National Institutes of
Health-supported Clinical Research Center at Pennsylvania State
Pistachios are nutrient rich and full of antioxidants, vitamins, protein
and fiber. A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals 49 nuts, more per
serving than any other snack nut. They are cholesterol free and contain
just 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 12.5 grams of fat per serving, the
majority of which comes from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. In
addition, they contain a significant amount of potassium, 300mg, and 3g
fiber per serving.
About American Pistachio Growers
American Pistachio Growers (APG) is a non-profit voluntary agricultural
trade association representing more than 600 grower members in
California, Arizona and New Mexico. APG is governed by a
democratically-elected board of directors and is funded entirely by
growers and independent processors with the shared goal of increasing
global awareness of nutritious American-grown pistachios. APG pistachios
are the "Official Snack" of USA Water Polo, professional snowboarder
Jeremy Jones, British pro cyclist Mark Cavendish and the Miss California
Organization. For more information, visit www.AmericanPistachios.org
Sauder KA, McCrea CE, Ulbrecht JS, Kris-Etherton PM, West SG. Pistachio
consumption modifies systemic hemodynamics, increases heart rate
variability, and reduces ambulatory blood pressure in type 2 diabetes.
Journal of the American Heart Association. 2014;3:e000873; originally
published June 30, 2014; doi:10.1161/JAHA.114.000873
West, SG, Gebauer SK, Kay CD, Bagshaw DM, Savastano DM, Diefenbach C,
Kris-Etherton PM. Diets containing pistachios reduce systolic blood
pressure and peripheral vascular responses to stress in adults with
dyslipidemia. Hypertension. 2012:60(1):58-63.
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