Pistachios contain as many antioxidants as blueberries, new study finds
Researchers from Cornell University found that pistachios contain antioxidants on the same level as blueberries, pomegranates, cherries, and beets. The surprising amount of this substance found in this particular fruit is among the highest, a press release by American Pistachio Growers said.
The team analyzed pistachios using two different methods to measure the antioxidant potential of pistachios: Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) and Cellular Antioxidant Activity (CAA).
While these tests don't prove a specific health outcome, they suggest a high level of antioxidant compounds within pistachios. The fruit is also high in copper and manganese and a source of selenium, zinc, riboflavin and Vitamin E.
All these nutrients contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. This is particularly interesting as research suggests that a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods may even help to reduce the risk of premature death.
Oxidative stress is the imbalance of free radicals, or oxidants. Free radicals attack healthy body cells and this damage is thought to contribute to inflammation and aging in addition to chronic health conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
"We believe the high antioxidant activity of pistachios may be due to the unique compounds in pistachios including vitamin E, carotenoids, phenolics and flavonoids. The combination or interaction of these beneficial antioxidants, bioactive compounds, along with other nutrients, is likely what contributes to the many health benefits we have seen in pistachio studies from recent years," said Dr. Rui Hai Liu, Professor of Food Science at Cornell University.
The study also found that pistachio phytochemical extracts showed potent antiproliferative activities against human breast, liver and colon cancer cells in vitro with exceptionally high activity seen against the human breast cancer cells.
The extracts were shown to inhibit cancer growth in all three cancer cells without causing cytotoxicity to the cells. The researchers report that this area of study is worthy of future research to determine how pistachio extracts are blocking the growth of cancer cells as seen in this new study.
Pistachios used in the Cornell study were grown in California, which have a different nutritional profile than those grown in other countries.
Pistachios grown in the U.S. are also a plant-based source of complete protein and can be part of a balanced and varied diet and healthy lifestyle.