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Many people around the world struggle with weight management and related health issues. For most people, losing weight tops the list of their new year resolutions. And when it comes to weight loss, nutritionists and health experts insist on healthy eating. For centuries, nuts have been associated with several health benefits, like weight loss. Pistachios are especially said to be one of the best snacks that not only taste great, but are also rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. But do pistachios really aid in weight loss? We sought to find out and here’s what we discovered.

Scientific Studies on the Health Benefits of Pistachios

In a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition on the effects of pistachios on weight loss, the scientists divided the participants into two groups. Each group was allowed to eat 500 calories less than their resting metabolic rate.

The group that consumed salted pistachios recorded a significantly lower level of triglyceride as compared to the group that consumed salted pretzels.

In another research conducted by the American and Chinese scientists on individuals with metabolic syndrome, it was discovered that consuming 42g to 70g of pistachios did not lead to weight loss. The study concluded that consumption of pistachios may, however, have other benefits like reducing the health risks associated with metabolic syndrome.

A 2014 Study published in the Journal of the Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research found that “pistachios are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats which help to reduce glucose levels post meals.” This can help improve metabolism, regulate blood sugar, control blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. In a nutshell, consuming pistachios could help fight diabetes.

Another study discovered that regular consumption of pistachios is good for the heart and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as the deterioration of diabetic condition in diabetic adults.

A more recent study indicates that including pistachios in a behavioral weight loss program can have positive outcomes, such as lower blood pressure and healthier body weight. The new study challenges the old ways of thinking that fats are bad in our diets. Previously, scientists thought that excessive consumption of all kinds of fat could cause weight gain and result in other harmful health issues.

However, Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CPT, a nutrition expert at Shaw Simple Swaps, says that “As a dietitian who’s lived through decades of fatphobia with clients, it’s exciting to see research like this recent pistachio study emerge, yet again showing the power of eating healthy fats to achieve weight loss and other health-related goals.”

The results of the new study, which were published in Nutrients in July 2020, show that we don’t have to necessarily avoid heart-healthy fats found in foods like nuts, avocados, and olive oil to meet our health goals. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego on a group of 100 participants, some of who were healthy and some were obese.

The participants were provided with the same activity level, dietary, and behavioral advice to support weight loss. Over the 4-month experiment period, half of the participants added 1.5 ounces of pistachios to their daily diet. The other half did not. After four months of close monitoring, both groups registered a loss of about five percent of their body weight and decreased their BMI (Body Mass Index). The group that ate pistachios daily also improved systolic and diastolic blood pressure, lowered their consumption of sweets, and increased their fiber intake, compared to the group that did not consume pistachios.

While the results of the study are promising, there were several limitations, and more research should be conducted for concrete proof.

What the study means for people struggling with weight loss is that adding pistachios to your diet might help you to reach your weight loss goals and lower your blood pressure.

Pistachios and Weight Loss

Pistachios are a rich source of heart-healthy fat. While other nuts, like almonds and walnuts, have many health benefits, pistachios seem to top the list, especially when it comes to weight loss. To enjoy the full benefits of pistachios, it’s advisable to eat them raw and unsalted. Plus, mind your portions to keep calories in check. To help limit your pistachios consumption, stick to eating pistachios in the shell. This promotes mindful eating since you have to take some time to crack each shell. The recommended serving is half-cup, for a rich supply of cancer-fighting vitamin E, potassium, and vitamin B6, which is known to boost mood, and strengthen the immune system.

All images by Shutterstock

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