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Pistachios may calm acute stress reaction

Eating pistachios may reduce your body's response to the stresses of everyday life, according to a Penn State study.

"A ten-year follow-up study of young men showed that those who had larger cardiovascular responses to stress in the lab, were more likely to contract hypertension later in life," says Dr. Sheila G. West, associate professor of biobehavioral health. "Elevated reactions to stressors are partly genetic, but can be changed by diet and exercise. Lifestyle changes can make the biological reactions to stress smaller."

West and her colleagues investigated the effects of pistachios on standardized stressors on subjects who had high cholesterol, but normal blood pressure. They used a randomized, crossover controlled feeding study design and all three diets all contained the same number of calories. After a two-week run-in diet containing 35 percent fat and 11 percent saturated fats, each test diet lasted for four weeks during which time participants ate only foods supplied by the study. The researchers reported the results of this study at Experimental Biology 2007 today (April 30) in Washington, D.C.

The diets included a Step I Diet a standard heart healthy diet with 25 percent fat and 8 percent saturated fat, a diet containing 1.5 ounces of pistachios that was a Step I Diet with 30 percent total fat and 8 percent saturated fat and a diet containing 3 ounces of pistachios that was a Step I Diet containing 34 percent fat and 8 percent saturated fat. At the end of each four-week diet regime, the researchers measured blood pressure and total peripheral vascular resistance at rest and during two stress tests.

The two tests consisted of a physical test and a psychological test. The physical test consists of putting one foot in a bucket of ice water for 2.5 minutes. The psychological test asks participants to listen to two numbers, add them in their head and say the answer. Then they hear another number and they must add it to the second
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
30-Apr-2007


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