“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,” said Ladia M. Hernandez, senior research dietitian in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
It's nice to know that there is a delicious tasting nut out there that actually has healthy properties, and in this case, is showing scientists a considerable benefit when consumed by those who would otherwise be at risk of certain cancers.
A diet that incorporates a daily dose of pistachios may help reduce the risk of lung and other cancers, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held Dec. 6-9. This is likely because 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. Pistachios are loaded with gamma-tocopherol.
“Pistachios are a good source of gamma-tocopherol. Eating them increases intake of gamma-tocopherol so pistachios may help to decrease lung cancer risk,” said Hernandez, the main author.
Pistachios are known to provide a heart-healthy benefit by producing a cholesterol-lowering effect and providing the antioxidants that are typically found in food products of plant origin. Hernandez and colleagues conducted a six-week, controlled clinical trial to evaluate if the consumption of pistachios would increase dietary intake and serum levels of gamma-tocopherol. Many experts will tell you that it is better to get your vitamin E through natural food sources than via supplements.
A pistachio-rich diet could potentially help reduce the risk of other cancers from developing as well, according to Hernandez.
“Because epidemiologic studies suggest gamma-tocopherol is protective against prostate cancer, pistachio intake may help,” she said. “Other food sources that are a rich source of gamma-tocopherol include nuts such as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybean and corn oils.” The study, conducted at Texas Woman’s University included 36 healthy participants who were randomized into either a control group or the intervention group consisting of a pistachio diet. There were 18 participants in the control group and 18 in the intervention group.
Hernandez and colleagues found a significant increase in energy-adjusted dietary intake of gamma-tocopherol at weeks three and four in those on the pistachio diet compared with those on the control diet. The similar effect was seen at weeks five and six among those on the pistachio diet compared with those on the control diet. For those on the pistachio diet, cholesterol-adjusted serum gamma-tocopherol was significantly higher at the end of the intervention period compared to baseline.