Natural Health Tips

Pistachios: The Heart-Healthy Nuts That Protect Against Cancer

Pistachio nuts not only taste great, they're also packed with heaps of healthful nutrients and have anti-cancer, heart-health and eye health benefits.

Pistachios are related to the cashew, peach and mango family. They are high in fiber and, in fact, a serving of pistachios contains more fiber than half a cup of broccoli. They are a good source of protein and potassium, and provide good amounts of mother minerals like magnesium, copper and phosphorus. They are also a good source of the gamma-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, found to protect against lung and prostate cancer.

Pistachios are the richest source of phytosterols - cholesterol-like compounds found in plants which may have anti-cancer and heart-health properties - among all of the tree nuts. They are also high in the amino acid arginine, which helps to enhance blood flow to all areas of the body, and are the richest source of the phytochemical lutein, excellent for eye health, compared to any other tree nut.

Pistachios and Cancer

Acording to data presented at a Cancer Prevention Research Conference in Houston recently, eating a handful of pistachios daily is associated with protecting against lung cancer.

"It is known that Vitamin E provides a degree of protection against certain forms of cancer. Higher intakes of gamma-tocopherol, which is a form of Vitamin E, may reduce the risk of lung cancer," said one of the researchers in a statement to the press.

"Pistachios are a good source of gamma-tocopherol. Eating them increases intake of gamma-tocopherol so pistachios may help to decrease lung cancer risk."

After a six-week controlled clinical trial, researchers found that subjects who ate pistachios had significantly higher serum gamma-tocopherol levels and Vitamin E levels than the control group not eating the nuts. This substantially increased amount of gamma-tocopherol in the body of pistachio eaters could help lower the risk of not only lung cancer but other cancers such as prostate cancer as well, as found in previous studies.

One of the study authors said:

"Pistachios are one of those 'good-for-you' nuts, and 2 ounces per day could be incorporated into dietary strategies designed to reduce the risk of lung cancer without significant changes in body mass index,"

"Other food sources that are a rich source of gamma-tocopherol include nuts such as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybean and corn oils."

Pistachios For A Healthy Heart

Pistachios contain an amazing four heart-healthy substances- high phytosterol, gamma tocopherol, arginine, and high monosaturated fat content. This makes them an excellent addition to the diet to help fight heart disease and improve circulation.

Previous studies have found pistachios to be a heart-healthy food. Healthy subjects who ate twenty percent of their calories as pistachios for three weeks had decreased levels of oxidative stress, which causes damage to cells and is involved in many diseases. These nuts are also loaded with immune system boosting antioxidants.

Pistachio nuts are delicious eaten as a snack straight from their shells, or add chopped pistachios to cereals, muffins or as a coating for fish, meat or chicken. To maintain the freshness of the nuts, store them in an airtight container.