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Can you go too nutty over pistachios?

These researchers expected nutrient-packed pistachios to boost endurance, but found surprising results.

Study under review: Influence of pistachios on performance and exercise-induced inflammation, oxidative stress, immune dysfunction, and metabolite shifts in cyclists: a randomized, crossover trial

Introduction

Pistachios are a popular nut that contain protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as a wide range of micronutrients and antioxidants that have been associated with decreased levels of oxidative stress[1] and inflammation[2]. Although exercise-induced oxidative stress[3] is an important part of training adaptations[4], it is possible that reducing excess inflammation could be beneficial for performance. This study is the first to investigate the effects of pistachios on athletic performance.

The researchers expected to find that consuming three ounces of pistachios per day for two weeks before a 75 kilometer (46.6 mile) cycling time trial would improve performance due to reducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction. Though you might assume that a study funded by American Pistachio Growers would support pistachio consumption, you may want to read on for a few surprises.

Pistachios are known to influence oxidative stress and inflammation, which are also related to athletic performance. To our knowledge, the direct effect of pistachio intake on performance has not been tested until now.

Who and what was studied?

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What were the findings?

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The big picture

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Other Articles in Issue #05 (March 2015)