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Visual Cues and Portion Control
In a study funded by pistachio growers, researchers at Eastern Illinois University theorized that seeing the proof of one's previous consumption (in the form of chicken bones, crab shells, multiple drink cups or food wrappers) might make people more aware of how much they had already eaten - leading to less intake overall .
Why are fruit and nuts good for you?
Nuts are great for you. While they do have a lot of calories, these are the best quality calories because they are high in monounsaturated fat. Nuts have been shown to be very satisfying and this makes them a great choice for snacking.
How to lower your cholesterol
There is a pretty clear link between high serum cholesterol and heart disease. When I say "serum" cholesterol I mean the blood test that your doctor performs. It's not just the total cholesterol that we care about but the lipid panel.
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Turkey is a Mediterranean country, and as such The Mediterranean Diet is common there. Researchers in Turkey noted that pistachio nuts are popular in areas from western Asia to Afghanistan and beyond, so they chose to focus their research on nut consumption and cholesterol on pistachios (Nutr Met & Card Dis 2006(3);16:202-209).
The study volunteers included 24 men and 20 women who were otherwise healthy, without food allergies, and did not smoke. They had fairly normal cholesterol profiles and were not on any medications that would affect their cholesterol or metabolism. The researchers split them into two groups: the control group and the pistachio group. For one week, both groups ate their normal diet, and at the end of the week their cholesterol levels were tested.
Then for three weeks the control group followed a diet that did not include any nut products, but was otherwise healthy and designed to maintain their current weight. The pistachio group, however, followed a diet in which about 20% of their caloric intake was from pistachio nuts. The non-nut portion of their diet was adjusted to reduce the portion sizes of fatty foods (meat, for example) and oils, margarine, or butter so that the amount of calories from fat they were consuming would maintain their current weights. Again, at the end of the three-week period all of the subjects had their cholesterol tested.
Although none of the subjects gained or lost weight, the pistachio group had excellent results in the area of their cholesterol profile: their total cholesterol was down, their HDL levels (the good stuff) were up by about 25%, and their LDL levels (the bad stuff) was reduced as well.
Granted, it's a bit unrealistic to think that anyone's going to get a full 20% of their calories from nuts every day. But this study (which was not funded by any nut company) is confirming what other studies have shown: that eating nuts is good for you. Make nuts a regular part of your healthy diet by eating them as a snack, putting them in salads, or using them in recipes, like my Pistachio Crusted Grouper.
First posted: August 2, 2006