September 22/Irish Independent -- Pistachio nuts may help reduce LDL, "bad" cholesterol, but could make you gain weight unless you cut back elsewhere in your diet.

Nuts are already known to be good for the heart when eaten in moderation as part of a low-fat diet. Now, a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has examined the effects of pistachios on 28 adults whose LDL cholesterol level was higher than the optimal range. Their average LDL level was in the "borderline high" range when the study started. Apart from their cholesterol levels,they were all healthy and none was on cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The participants first spent two weeks on a standard diet. For the next month, they followed a low-fat diet without pistachios and then spent a month on a healthy diet that included one daily serving of pistachios. A third month involved a similar diet with two daily servings of pistachios.

LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 9% during the month that participants ate a daily serving of pistachios. They fell by 12% when participants had two daily servings of pistachios.

From the September 29, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash