Objectives: Previous studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of regular consumption of pistachio nuts on glycemic, lipid, and oxidative stress parameters. The aim of this study was to determine its effect on vascular health, which has not been adequately studied so far.
Methods: In this open label, randomized parallel-group study, 60 adults with mild dyslipidemia were randomized to lifestyle modification (LSM) alone or LSM with consumption of 80 g (in-shell) pistachios (equivalent to 40 g or 1.5 oz shelled pistachios) daily for 3 mo. Biochemical parameters, brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation (BAFMD), and carotid-femoral and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (cfPWV and baPWV, respectively) were measured before and after the intervention.
Results: At 3 mo, there was no change in any of the clinical or biochemical parameters in the LSM group. However, the patients in the pistachio group had a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C; 35.7 ± 8.8 mg/dL versus 37.8 ± 10.1 mg/dL; P = 0.04) and a reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (137.2 ± 32.6 mg/dL versus 127.6 ± 34.0 mg/dL; P = 0.02), total cholesterol (TC)-to-HDL-C ratio (5.8 ± 1.3 mg/dL versus 5.3 ± 1.1 mg/dL; P = 0.001), and fasting blood sugar (88.8 ± 7.1 mg/dL versus 86.6 ± 6.3 mg/dL; P = 0.05). Additionally, whereas LSM alone was associated with no improvement in BAFMD or PWV, individuals in the pistachio group had significant reduction in left baPWV (1261.7 ± 187.5 cm/sec versus 1192.4 ± 152.5 cm/sec; P = 0.02) and statistically nonsignificant improvement in most other parameters, including BAFMD. As a result, at 3 mo the patients in the pistachio group had lower cfPWV (770.9 ± 96.5 cm/sec versus 846.4 ± 162.0 cm/sec; P = 0.08), lower left baPWV (1192.4 ± 152.5 cm/sec versus 1326.3 ± 253.7 cm/sec; P = 0.05), and lower average baPWV (1208.2 ± 118.4 cm/sec versus 1295.8 ± 194.1 cm/sec; P = 0.08) compared with the LSM group. Two-way analysis of variance revealed significant treatment effect of pistachio consumption on cfPWV, left baPWV, average baPWV, and BAFMD (P = 0.037, 0.01, 0.07, and 0.046, respectively).
Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that regular consumption of pistachio nuts not only improves glycemic and lipid parameters, but also results in improvements in vascular stiffness and endothelial function. Importantly, these improvements were seen in apparently healthy individuals and with a diet (including pistachios) and exercise regimen that every adult individual is expected to follow.
Keywords: Arterial stiffness; Augmentation index; Cardiovascular disease; Hypertension; Pulse wave velocity.
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