Pistachios lead the new pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet, one of the healthiest in the world

Dr. Estruch: "Compared to other dried fruit, pistachios have certain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, of great importance in the prevention of eye diseases"

The Mediterranean Diet is, according to Dr. Estruch, the best eating pattern in the world and following  it contributes to reduce in a 30% the risk of cardiovascular diseases1.


Barcelona – Within the World Pistachio Day, Dr. Ramon Estruch, director of the PREDIMED study (Prevention with Mediterranean Diet) and member of the Internal Medicine Service of the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, ​​reveals that pistachio is the protagonist of the new Official pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet (DM), in the category of nuts, developed by the Mediterranean Diet Foundation. Estruch emphasizes the importance of including pistachios in this food pattern, while also remembering that nuts are a fundamental part of DM and recommending its daily consumption.

Its complete nutritional profile and its importance in the Mediterranean diet are the key points why the Mediterranean Diet Foundation has decided that the pistachio should lead the category of nuts in the new pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet. In the presentation that took place on World Pistachio Day, at the School of Medicine of Hospital Clínic, Dr. Estruch highlighted the different advantages of the green dried fruit, some of them unknown until now.


Pistachios to prevent eye diseases

Among the different health benefits of pistachio, Dr. Estruchmakes an important contribution2 as the possible help of pistachio in the prevention of eye diseases. Recall that in Spain, about one million people have visual health problems. In this sense, the expert notes that "compared to other nuts, pistachio has a lower amount of fat and energy content, along with a high proportion of fiber (both soluble and insoluble), potassium, vitamins E and K, phytosterols and certain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, of great importance in the prevention of eye diseases."

In this sense, he argues that, "apart from its protective effects on the cardiovascular system, probably related to its content in polyphenols and vitamin E, I am struck by the high content of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, of pistachio; a fact that confers an important protective action at eye level. These two substances are precisely responsible for the characteristic color of pistachios and its efficacy has been pointed out in the prevention of phototoxic lesions and above all on macular degeneration related to age, which is the main cause of blindness in the elderly. The pistachio carotenoids are the main components of the macular pigment, a fact that would explain the protective role of these nuts in this important and worrisome disease." 


Cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases

Furthermore, Dr. Estruch states that "there are numerous epidemiological and intervention studies that demonstrate the beneficial effects of nuts for health and, especially, for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases. Hence, many scientific societies, such as, for example, the American Society of Cardiology, recommend regular consumption of nuts, within the framework of a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet."



In addition, as Dr. Estruch3 indicates, "the regular consumption of pistachios reduces blood pressure (by facilitating the synthesis of nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator); facilitates endothelial function and reduces arterial stiffness (new vascular risk factors); improves the lipid profile (by reducing total cholesterol and especially harmful cholesterol - LDL-cholesterol); reduces the incidence of diabetes (since it is a food with a low glycemic index); and., also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal flora (thanks to its high fiber content, which when fermented is converted into short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate). All these mechanisms explain that people who frequently consume these nuts have a reduction of almost 20% in total mortality and a reduction of close to 30% in the risk of major cardiovascular complications, such as myocardial infarction, stroke. or death from cardiovascular cause. "


Yes to eat between meals

Dr. Ramón Estruchalso highlights a study4 carried out with 1,000 American employees, in which it is observed that the consumption of 42 g of pistachios at midmorning, known as Crunch Time, improves cognitive function, memory and the ability to learn, which leads to greater concentration at work.

In this sense, Estruchargues that "it is interesting to check the beneficial effects of taking a snack between meals. Classic nutritionists recommend eating five meals a day, including a meal before lunch and another before dinner. According to what they indicate, it allows getting to lunch or dinner without anxiety."

The expert also points out that, "protective effects have been observed on mortality in general and on cardiovascular disease with the consumption of a portion of nuts (28 g) which is equivalent to 49 pistachios between 1 and 7 days a week. a 40% reduction in the risk of suffering from this disease. 



However, most studies in which the effects of pistachios have been demonstrated on the lipid profile, hypertension and diabetes for example have been used up to 3 and 4 times this dose (between 70 and 100 g per day). For practical purposes, our recommendation would be to consume a "handful" of pistachios every day, ideally mid-morning and / or mid-afternoon. "


The new pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet 

The Mediterranean Diet Foundation has decided to adapt the food pyramid to new lifestyles. The new scheme incorporates qualitative and quantitative elements in food selection. The new pyramid follows the previous pattern and sets at the base that food that must sustain the diet, such as pistachios; at the same time, the pyramid relegates to the upper strata, graphically narrower, those that should be consumed in moderation. In addition, the indications of cultural and social order that are intimately linked to the Mediterranean lifestyle from a concept of diet understood in a broad sense. It also shows the composition and the number of rations of the main meals.


The keys of the Mediterranean Diet

According to Dr. Estruch, "currently, DM is considered one of the healthiest diets by organisms such as the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as by most scientific societies around the world. This feeding pattern is based on a high consumption of olive oil (better extra virgin), fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, cereals (better whole) and nuts such as pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts; in the moderate intake of chicken, poultry, eggs and dairy products; in a low consumption of red meat; and, in a moderate consumption of wine, always with meals.

Likewise, the expert points out that "recent studies2have shown with the highest level of scientific evidence that the follow-up of the DM pattern lengthens life and reduces the incidence of the main chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, as well as numerous types of cancer."


The origin of the Mediterranean Diet

In 1955, the American researcher Ancel Keyspresented a study to the World Health Organization in which he related the type of diet of seven countries (United States, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Finland and Yugoslavia) and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

Keys’ study, entitled "Coronary heart desease in seven countries", was the first to verify that the countries that consumed a greater amount of saturated fats presented a greater risk to suffer this type of diseases; while the typical diet of the countries of the Mediterranean (Italy and Greece) offered a protective effect. From this study, Ancel Keyscoined the term Mediterranean Dietpresent in the following books of popular science that he published with his wife, Margaret Keys.


About Dr. Ramon Estruch
He is a Senior Consultant of the Internal Medicine Service of the Hospital Clinic (Barcelona) since 2002. He also is Associate Professor of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Barcelona since 1996, Member of the Director Council of the CIBER of Obesity and Nutrition of the Health Institute Carlos III since 2006 and member of the Advisory Board of the ERAB (European Foundation for Alcohol Research) of the European Union since 2010. He is the coordinator of the Network of "Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease" since 2003 and the director of the PREDIMED study (Prevention with Mediterranean Diet) that includes 18 research groups from 9 autonomous communities.
Estruch has published more than 330 papers in high impact journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine and American Journal of Nutrition. The results of the study on the Effects of the Mediterranean Diet in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in April 2013, was the most widely read scientific article in the world during the year 2013.
About the Mediterranean Diet Foundation
The Mediterranean Diet Foundation was created in 1996 by the Association for the Development of the Mediterranean Diet to enhance the fundamental value represented by the Mediterranean Diet and its products for the Spanish diet and its industry. It promotes the values ​​of the Mediterranean Diet, its products, the healthy lifestyle that it represents, which is both socially viable and respectful with the environment. Encourages collaboration with other institutions, research centers, universities, companies, producers and entities, both nationally and internationally.
This was recognized and celebrated by the UNESCO inscribing the Mediterranean Diet as one of the elements of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The healthy food pattern provided by the Mediterranean Diet is perfectly compatible with the pleasure of tasting exquisite dishes.
About American Pistachios
Pistachios are a nutrient rich in antioxidants, vitamins, protein and fiber. A handful equates to 49 pistachios, richer and healthier than any other dried fruit. They are cholesterol free and contain only 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 12.5 grams of healthy fat, coming from monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. In addition, they contain a significant amount of potassium, 300 mg, and 6 grams of fiber.
About American Pistachio Growers
American Pistacho Growers (APG) is a non-profit association representing more than 625 producer members in California, Arizona and New Mexico.  APG is directed by a governing board of 18 members, who are producers, and is financed entirely by the same farmers and independent investors, with the common goal of increasing worldwide the notoriety of the nutritious pistachios grown in America. The United States has been number 1 in the world pistachio production since 2008. For more information visit AmericanPistachios.com

American Pistachio Growers

Judy Hirigoyen (Director, Global Marketing)


T.: (001) 559 475 0435/ (001) 916 580 5146


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1Estruch R et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts. N Engl J Med. 2018; 378:e34.

2SanGiovanni JP et al. The putative role of lutein and zeaxanthin as protective agents against age-related macular degeneration: promise of molecular genetics for guiding mechanistic and translational research in the field. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96:1223S-33S.

3Estruch R et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts. N Engl J Med. 2018; 378:e34

4Berk L. et al. Nuts and Brain Health: Nuts Increase EEG Power Spectral Density for Delta Frequency (1-3Hz) and Gamma Frequency (31-40 Hz) Associated with Deep Meditation, Empathy, Healing, as well as Neural Synchronization, enhanced Cognitive Processing, Recall, and Memory—All Beneficial for Brain Health. The FASEBJ.2017; 31: Supplement 636.24.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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