Cholesterol/LipidsDiet-NutritionHeart Disease

Pistachios and risk factors for heart disease

 Eating nuts lowers cardiovascular disease risk.

But what about pistachios?

First, the details.

  • 28 people with LDL (bad) cholesterol at least 2.86 mmol/L (111.54 mg/dL) ate 3 isoenergetic diets for 4 weeks each.
    • A lower-fat control diet with no pistachios
    • 1PD: Diet adjusted for 1 serving of pistachios daily (10% of energy from pistachios)
    • 2PD: Diet adjusted for 2 servings of pistachios daily (20% of energy from pistachios)
  • Isoenergetic diets provide 1.3 times the energy expended at rest.

And, the results.

  • 2 PD significantly decreased total cholesterol (–8%), LDL cholesterol (–11.6%), and non-HDL cholesterol (–11%)
    • It also significantly lowered apo B (–4%), apo B/apo A-I (–4%), and stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) activity (–1%).
    • SCD is the key enzyme in the biosynthesis of monosaturated fatty acids, which lowers LDL cholesterol.
  • 1 PD and 2 PD, respectively, showed a significant dose-dependent lowering of the total cholesterol/HDL (good) cholesterol ratio (–1% and –8%), and the LDL cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio (–3% and –11%).
    • There was also a significant lowering of the non-HDL cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio (–2% and –10%).

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Inclusion of pistachios in a healthy diet beneficially affects [heart disease] risk factors in a dose-dependent manner, which may reflect effects on SCD.

The Harvard Men’s Health Watch reminds us “Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, but high in calories… If you add nuts to your diet, you’ll want to cut back on something else.”

9/8/08 18:16 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.