Epidemiological studies have linked regular nut consumption with lower body mass index and reduced likelihood of weight gain in adulthood. Nuts can displace other foods in the diet, and thus, promote a healthier dietary pattern. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of pistachio nut consumption in overweight/obese adults. This randomized controlled study enrolled non-diabetic overweight/obese adults (n = 100) assigned to a 4-month behavioral weight loss intervention only group (controls) or also prescribed 1.5 oz/day (42 g/day) of pistachios (pistachio group). Outcomes were change in body weight, cardiometabolic factors, and dietary intake. Percent weight change was similar in the two groups (-5.1 [0.5] (mean [SE])% in the control group and -4.9 [0.6]% in the pistachio group, and body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were reduced in both groups (time effect p ≤ 0.05). The pistachio group (but not the control group) exhibited a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (time effect p = 0.01). Plasma alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein concentrations increased significantly in the pistachio group (time effect p < 0.05). Pistachio consumption was associated with increased dietary fiber intake and decreased consumption of sweets. Regular consumption of pistachios was associated with a comparable degree of weight loss, and similar reductions in BMI and waist circumference, in overweight/obese men and women compared to controls, and favorable changes in the diet, in the context of a behavioral weight loss intervention.
Keywords: Healthy Eating Index; blood pressure; cardiometabolic risk factors; dietary intake; nuts; pistachios; weight loss.