Handful of pistachios could destroy cholesterol

The Telegraph

The nuts are full of antioxidants that protect cells from damage by harmful chemicals, called 'free radicals'.

The findings published in the Journal of Nutrition follows previous research by the same team that discovered pistachios help destroy bad cholesterol that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Professor Penny Kris-Etherton, of Pennsylvania State University, said: "Our previous study showed the benefits of pistachios in lowering lipids and lipoproteins, which are a risk factor for heart disease.

"This new study shows an additional effect of pistachios so now there are multiple health benefits of eating pistachios."

She and colleagues found pistachios are much richer in the main dietary antioxidants lutein, beta-carotene and gamma-tocopherol than other nuts.

Beta-carotene turns into vitamin A which prevents cancer and gamma-tocopherol is a common form of vitamin E that wards off heart disease. Lutein is found in dark green leafy vegetables and is important in vision and healthy skin.

It is believed antioxidants also prevent cholesterol from moving into the blood vessel walls and causing inflammation.

When the researchers tested the effects of pistachios on antioxidant levels they found participants had much more antioxidants in their blood and lower cholesterol concentrations when they ate the nuts.

In the experiment, they ate three different diets for a month - a normal cholesterol lowering diet with no nuts and two other similar food regimes with 1.5 ounces and 3 ounces of pistachios respectively.

Prof Kris-Etherton added: "Our results suggest that a heart-healthy diet including pistachios contributes to a decrease in serum oxidized-LDL levels, in part through cholesterol lowering, and also due to an added benefit of the antioxidants in the pistachios."

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