FRESNO, Calif., Feb. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- It's no coincidence that National Pistachio Day – February 26, 2011 – occurs during American Heart Month. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in America, and promising nutrition research shows that pistachios are a heart healthy snack choice. In honor of American Heart Month, TheGreenNut.org is offering simple tips encouraging all Americans to go green for a healthy heart this February.
In 2003, the FDA allowed a qualified health claim announcing that nuts, including pistachios, may help lower the risk of heart disease. The Western Pistachio Association – a voluntary association representing U.S. pistachio growers – is committed to funding the most promising research on the cardiovascular benefits of pistachios.
In fact, numerous studies have looked at the effect of eating pistachios on many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These studies suggest eating pistachios daily (1 to 3 ounces or as 10 to 20 percent of calories) may reduce the risk of heart disease in four ways:
- Lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and non-HDL cholesterol(1)
- Increasing antioxidants in the blood and decreasing oxidized-LDL, LDL cholesterol and non-HDL cholesterol(2)
- Providing beneficial anti-inflammatory properties(3)
- Reducing acute stress by lowering blood pressure(4)
"Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States," says Constance Geiger, PhD, RD, CD and nutrition consultant for the Western Pistachio Association. "We encourage Americans to eat pistachios as part of an overall healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Experts agree that eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks and exercising regularly are the most effective ways to reduce risk of heart disease."
Sister to Sister, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing heart disease in women, is partnering with TheGreenNut.org to help spread the "green" news throughout American Heart Month. TheGreenNut.org and Sister to Sister offer the following tips to stay heart healthy:
- When going out to a restaurant, plan what you are going to eat ahead of time. It will be easier to select something heart healthy when you're not famished or distracted by dinner conversation. Many online menus also offer nutritional information, making your choice even easier.
- Get moving and choose activities that you enjoy. Regular exercise is a key factor in keeping heart healthy, but it can be nearly impossible to keep up if you don't enjoy what you are doing. Try taking dance classes or a daily walk through the park with a friend.
- Snack on pistachios. Not only are they heart healthy, but cracking open the shells helps you slow down consumption and provides a visual to remind you how much you have consumed.
- Quit smoking, and stick with it. To avoid picking back up the habit, fill your time with activities that require your hands, such as painting or playing the piano.
- Know the symptoms of a heart attack, and be prepared to react. Symptoms can differ greatly for men and women. For men, the most common symptom is pain or pressure in the chest, but women are known to have more atypical symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness or unusual fatigue. Visit www.sistertosister.org to see a full list. If you feel any symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Celebrate 28 Days of Pistachios
All Americans can celebrate the "heart"iness of pistachios by participating in TheGreenNut.org's "28 Days of Pistachios" challenge. Each day in February, TheGreenNut.org will post a heart healthy fact via social media. Those who retweet the message on Twitter or "Like" the fact on Facebook will be entered for a chance to win a Green Nut t-shirt and pistachios daily. Participants can enter by finding The Green Nut on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheGreenNut or following The Green Nut on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheGreenNut. The winner will be chosen the first week of March 2011.
About the Western Pistachio Association
The Green Nut ™ and TheGreenNut.org is a nutrition awareness campaign sponsored by the Western Pistachio Association (WPA). Based in Fresno, California, the WPA is a voluntary association representing pistachio growers throughout the country. Founded in 1980, it is the only voluntary organization representing U.S. pistachio growers' interests. It is governed by an 18 member board elected from a variety of states with the shared goal of increasing national awareness about the nutritional benefits of U.S. grown pistachios.
(1) Gebauer SK, West SG, Kay CD, Alaupovic P, Bagshaw D, Kris-Etherton PM. Effects of pistachios on cardiovascular disease risk factors and potential mechanisms of action: A dose-response study. Amer J Clin Nutr. 2008;88:651–9.
(2) Kay CD, Gebauer SK, West SG, Kris-Etherton PM. Pistachios increase serum antioxidants and lower serum oxidized-LDL in hypercholesterolemic adults. J Nutr. 2010;140:1093-98.
(3) Zhang J, Kris-Etherton PM, Thompson JT, Vanden Heuvel JP. Effect of pistachio oil on gene expression of IFN-induced protein with tetratricopeptide repeats 2: A biomarker of inflammatory response. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2010;54:1-10.
(4) West SG, Kay CD, Gebauer SK, Savastano DM, Diefenbach CM, Kris-Etherton PM. Pistachios reduce blood pressure and vascular responses to acute stress in healthy adults. FASEB J. 2007;21: 682.3.