12 January - 20 June 2016

Improvement to cardiovascular risk factors in diabetics on a pistachio-rich diet

13 August 14

A recent study, carried out by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and published in the Journal of the American Heart Foundation, suggests that the inclusion of 90g of pistachios a day (around 150 nuts) in the diet of patients with well-controlled Type II diabetes could improve some cardiovascular risk factors. Participants in the study showed a reduction in vascular constriction during stress tasks, and an improvement in neural heart control; both stroke volume and cardiac output were significantly greater following the pistachio diet than the control diet.

In the study, 30 Type II diabetes sufferers tested two special diets, one a standard healthy heart diet (a diet containing restricted amounts of fats and saturated fats), and the other including two servings of pistachios a day but having a higher level of fat than the healthy heart diet. Even though nuts are a high fat food they contain beneficial fats as well as being a good source of fibre, potassium and antioxidants. For the diet containing the pistachios, a high proportion (20%) of the calorific intake was supplied by the nuts.

Participants maintained each diet for a period of 4 weeks, with a two-week "washout" period separating them. After each four-week stint, a series of tests was carried out, including subjecting the patients to different sources of stress: immersing a hand into cold water or carrying out a trick arithmetic task. In both cases, the heart's response to stress in terms of vascular constriction and neural heart control was better in patients that had been on the nut based diet. Blood pressure was also monitored as part of the test, and although the modified diet was not associated with an improvement in blood pressure in laboratory conditions, there was an improvement in ambulatory blood pressure, particularly during sleep. [Diabetes.co.uk, ScienceDaily, Daily Mail]

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