May 13/Gainesville, Fla./Pak Tribune -- New research suggests that consumption of pistachio nuts promotes the growth of helpful bacteria in the stomach.

It is already known that pistachios are an excellent source of Vitamin B6 and various minerals, but the gut bug evidence is a new discovery. Such bacteria play an important role in aiding the body to break down food in the stomach.

They may play a role in "modifying microbiota (microbial environment in the gastrointestinal tract) ... for supporting intestinal health," said Volker Mai, assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

To examine this link between prebiotics in pistachios and the gut, researchers conducted a study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland. Prebiotics are a functional food that stimulates the growth of healthy bugs, helping produce digestive enzymes.

A group of healthy individuals were randomly assigned to eat an American-style, pre-planned diet that included either 0 ounces, 1.5 ounces or 3 ounces of pistachios or almonds per day, according to a Florida statement.

The response of the participants was measured via stool samples. After controlling for age, dietary factors and other relevant variables, the researchers observed that after 19 days, people who ate up to three ounces of pistachios (about 147 nuts or 2 servings) per day had increased changes in levels of various gut bacteria.

Pistachios, the study indicated, were better at promoting the bacteria than almonds. According to the researchers, this is the first study using this method to observe that pistachios and almonds may have the ability to help change the amounts of bacteria thriving in the gut.

These findings were presented at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego.

 From the May 14, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News