For Those Times You Feel Like a Nut, Think Pistachios

Sometimes, as the old ad slogan for Almond Joy went, you feel like a nut and sometimes you don't. If you are a person with type 2 diabetes and you feel in the mood for nuts, a new study suggests that pistachios might be a good choice.

Researchers at Penn State found that pistachios can reduce the body's stress responses, which could contribute to lower blood pressure and less stress on the cardiovascular system.

Enrolling patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, researchers grouped them into two arms: for two weeks all received the same meals that had the same number of calories, then half were given a standard heart-healthy diet, or a similar diet that included pistachios (two servings; approximately 3 ounces, or 20 percent of their caloric intake derived from pistachios).

The result? Those eating pistachios had more relaxed blood vessels than those who did not eat the pistachios.

"We found that systolic blood pressure during sleep was particularly affected by pistachios," said study co-author Sheila G. West, professor of biobehavioral health and nutritional sciences at Penn State. "Average sleep blood pressure was reduced by about 4 points and this would be expected to lower workload on the heart.

"If sustained with longer term treatment, these improvements in sleep blood pressure, vascular response to stress and vagal control of the heart could reduce risk of heart disease in this high risk group."

Photo: Seed Guides