Live Longer With Pistachios?

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We’ve long been advised of benefits to our health: like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and adequate restful sleep, staying hydrated, and reducing stress. 

We join gyms for our health. We tailor our grocery orders for our health. We prioritize self-care for our health. 

Many of us are always on the lookout for the next best thing to track, train, monitor, and facilitate health in our bodies…in our lives. 

But, would you be surprised to hear that something as simple as consuming a few servings of a popular tree nut each day could go a long way to not only benefit your health but to even make you live longer? 

If your eyebrows are rising in hopeful curiosity right now, you wouldn’t be alone. 

Even researchers were pleasantly surprised at the positive effects pistachios had on longevity of life due to their benefits to various processes within the body. 

Just what were their findings? 

 
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Pistachios Reduce Oxidative Stress 

Pistachios, one of the most common tree nuts, make a great snack in between meals. 

One ounce of pistachios, or roughly 49 kernels, is considered a serving. 

And, studies show that shelled pistachios are great for promoting mindful eating as the process of shelling the nuts slows down eating. 

You can add them to salads, or top your serving of yogurt or oatmeal with crushed pistachios to add both texture and nutritional value. 

Such a small switch in your go-to snacks to fight mid-morning or mid-afternoon hunger pack a powerful boost to your health, and may even add years to your life! 

Yes, you read that correctly. These tasty treats have recently been found to reduce the oxidative damage that occurs to your DNA over time due to the effects of poor lifestyle choices and aging (at the cellular level). 

A Spanish study, thought to be the first of its kind, studied 49 individuals, each participant having been diagnosed with prediabetes. 

The team of scientists in this study concluded that the dietary addition of pistachios, 2 ounces daily, counteracted oxidative damage caused by “the effects of poor lifestyle choices, bad eating habits, and even exposure to cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes.”

Even better, the results not only showed a counteracting to such damage, but an increase in genes that are involved in the protection of chromosomes as well.

And, it is the potent nutrient cocktail that makes up the delicious pistachio nut that is thought to be responsible for counteracting this damage that happens in your body. 

Pistachios are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. 

In fact, pistachios rank near the top of the list of healthy nuts for their antioxidant content alone. 

And, an added benefit? The antioxidants in pistachios are said to be easily absorbed during digestion, making them more valuable by way of “help” to your body. 

But, oxidative stress and DNA damage isn’t the only thing that contributes to shorter life expectancy. 

  • Heart disease, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases cause one in three deaths in the US. 
  • People with type 1 diabetes are expected to live 20 years less on average, and folks with type 2 diabetes are estimated to have a shorter life expectancy by 10 years. 
  • In 2018, obesity was said to be the cause of nearly 186,000 deaths per year. 

Thankfully, pistachios aid in lengthened life expectancy in these areas as well. 

 

Pistachios Also Fight Obesity, Heart Disease, And Diabetes 

So, we know that the potent antioxidant content in pistachios, and their ability to be easily absorbed by the body, aid in this nut’s body boosting bonuses. 

But, what else is in the pistachio that makes it a possible key to living a longer life?

Heart Disease
The antioxidant content in pistachios once again shines as the hero as they help to reduce cholesterol (the harmful kind) in your blood. 

More than 67% of studies involving the ability of pistachios to lower cholesterol have shown they are able to lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while increasing good (HDL) cholesterol. 

And, research shows pistachios are more effective than other nuts at lowering blood pressure as well. 

As both high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your risk of heart disease (they restrict the body’s blood supply flowing from your heart), including pistachios in your diet can act as a preventative measure, improving heart health. 

Diabetes
While pistachios wouldn’t necessarily be considered a low-carb option, they are low on the glycemic index which means they won’t spike blood sugar levels the way many carbs do.

In fact, studies in healthy people have shown that even adding as little as two ounces of pistachios to a diet laden with carbs, decreased post meal blood sugar responses by 20-30%. 

And, a 3 month long study in individuals with type 2 diabetes found that participants reduced their fasting blood sugar by 9% simply by adding pistachios to their daily meals (2 snacks of 25 grams of pistachios). 

Other studies have also shown pistachios to have insulin and glucose lowering effects. 

And, it is thought that the nutrient content of pistachios (once again) is responsible for these benefits as well, as they are rich in fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, carotenoids, phenolic compounds, all of which are beneficial to blood sugar levels. 

Obesity
Obesity (together with the overweight category) is considered to be the second leading cause of what is known as preventable death in the US.  

Obesity is considered a contributor to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and multiple other factors contributing to causes of death. 

And, once again, pistachios offer promising aid in lowering this stat as well. 

The high protein and fiber content of pistachios aids in feelings of fullness and may suppress appetite, both of which aid in weight loss. 

Pistachios are also low in calories and high in unsaturated fats, also aiding in weight loss. 

One 12 week weight loss program found that those who daily incorporated 2 ounces of pistachios as an afternoon snack reduced their BMI twice as much as those who instead had 2 ounces of pretzels for their afternoon snack over the course of the program. 

And, a 6 month study in overweight individuals found that those who incorporated pistachios into their diet (20% of all calories consumed were from pistachios) lost over a half inch more around their waistlines than those participants who did not eat pistachios. 

Specifically regarding the benefit of this study, abdominal fat (fat around your waistline) is linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, and asthma.

 

Conclusion

Can we say that you will live longer if you eat pistachios each day? No.

But, what can be said based on sound research is that incorporating pistachios into a healthy diet can:

  • Reduce cell and DNA damage (both of which contribute to aging)
  • Increase genes that protect chromosomes
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Lower total and bad cholesterol
  • Increase good cholesterol 
  • Lower insulin and glucose levels
  • Reduce fasting and post meal blood sugar responses
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Aid in a reduction of abdominal fat

…all of which can lower your risk of death. 

 

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