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Snack on pistachios for gut health

2 min read

Eating pistachios could be beneficial to your gut bacteria according to research. There is a growing evidence supporting the idea that intestinal health has an important impact on our overall health and it seems that pistachios may play a small part in the the beneficial modification of gut bacteria.

The researchers looked at 16 healthy people who were randomly assigned a pre-planned western diet which included either 0, 1.5 or 3 ounces of almonds or pistachios per day. The diets were calorie-controlled in order to ensure no weight was gained or lost over the duration of the study period.

Stools samples were collected from participants and analysed to identify the composition of the bacterial community - specifically the amounts of Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bifidobacteria. These are two microorganism groups located in the digestive tract that help in the breaking down of food substances.

After 19 days those participants that had eaten up to 3 ounces of pistachios per day and increased changes in a number of gut bacteria levels. In fact they showed an increase in potentially beneficial gut bacteria which produces butyrate, a substance shown to be a preferred energy source for epithelial cells in the colon and is believed to play an important part in the maintenance of the health of the colon. Gut microbe differences were stronger in individuals who consumed pistachios instead of almonds. 

Fibers and incompletely digested foods such as nuts which reach the part of the colon closest to the small intestine provide compounds needed for maintaining a diverse gut microbiota. This study reveals that eating more nuts, especially pistachios, could provide an effective way to modify the gut’s ‘healthy’ gut microbiota.

Emerging research is also showing that pistachios promote heart health in those with type 2 diabetes. In the study those that ate pistachios saw improved measures of cardiovascular health compared to those who did not.

Worried eating nuts will result in weight gain?

Researchers recently reported on a study that showed eating as much as 20% of calories from pistachios may not lead to weight gain, as well as providing the added benefit of improving blood pressure. The study looked at a group of healthy women in their twenties who were asked to include a couple of servings of pistachios into their daily diets. After 10 weeks the women experienced no changes in their weight, waist circumference or body mass index.

This might have something to do with the fact that it takes a little effort to manually remove the nuts from their shells, it slows down consumption without compromising fullness. This is combined with the fact that nuts are high in fiber and protein, both proven to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Pistachio nuts are also one of the lowest in calories - only 160 calories per ounce which equates to about 49 pistachios.

So why not give yourself a healthful boost by avoiding the crisps and opting for a few handfuls of pistachios instead! Your gut and your waist line will thank you!

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.