A Weight-Friendly Choice
California pistachios took center stage last
November at the 2010 American Dietetic Association’s annual Food &
Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE), the industry’s premier
conference where thousands of registered dietitians gather to learn
about innovative nutrition research and emerging health trends.
Pistachios led with a strong presence with two new research studies
presented on the natural mindful eating properties of pistachios,
demonstrating how they can help to reduce calorie intake without
The S-L-O-W Down Shell
Dr. James Painter, a behavioral eating expert for more than 18 years
and professor and chair of School of Family and Consumer Sciences at
Eastern Illinois University, presented his latest research in this
area: two studies on “The Pistachio Principle,” which encompasses
these mindful eating techniques.
“The research shows that our perception of how
much food we need to become satiated and maintain a healthy body
weight is skewed by many environmental factors,” says Dr. Painter.
“We eat more food if we eat off of a bigger dinner plate; we’ll eat
more potato chips if they come in a larger bag.”
Eating Less without Feeling Deprived
Painter added that mindless eating essentially means we are ignoring
hunger cues that tell us to stop, but said that small behavioral
changes can help people eat less without feeling deprived.
In Painter’s first study, 140 subjects self
selected a portion of pistachios as they entered the classroom and
the weight of the selected portion was recorded. At the end of the
class, the weight of the remaining pistachios was recorded and
subjects were surveyed to determine their fullness and satisfaction.
In condition one, the subjects were offered
in-shell pistachios and consumed an average of 125 calories. In
condition two, subjects were offered shelled pistachios and consumed
an average of 211 calories, a difference of 86 calories. Those who
snacked on in-shell pistachios consumed 41% fewer calories compared
to those who snacked on shelled nuts, and fullness and satisfaction
ratings were not significantly different. The shell changed the
package of the pistachios, adding visual volume, and it slowed
consumption, allowing time for hunger cues to be activated, reducing
overall calorie intake.
Visual Cue to Cut Calories
In Painter’s second study, 118 subjects were offered pistachios to
eat at their desk over an eight-hour period, beginning each day with
a 16-ounce bowl filled with four ounces of in-shell pistachios.
Another 16-ounce bowl was provided in which to place the empty
shells. Every two hours, pistachios were added in two-ounce
increments, as needed.
In condition one, the empty shells remained in
the bowl until the end of the day and subjects consumed an average
of 216 calories. In the second condition, the bowl with empty shells
was emptied every two hours and subjects consumed an average of 264
calories, a difference of 48 calories. When shells were left behind,
subjects ate 18% fewer calories compared to the second condition
when shells were cleared, yet fullness and satisfaction ratings were
not significantly different. The difference in calories consumed may
be due to the additional time needed to shell the nuts or the extra
volume perceived when consuming unshelled nuts. Either way, eating
in-shell pistachios helps consumers become more mindful of their
snacking behaviors, reducing overall calorie intake and, reportedly,
without feelings of deprivation.
These studies underscore the notion that
pistachios—especially unshelled pistachios—can work as a beneficial
addition to your weight-management plan. Pistachios are a good
source of protein and fiber. They also offer 49 kernels per serving,
more than any other nut. Comparatively, almonds have 23 in a
serving; walnuts, 14 halves; and cashews, 18.
more information about pistachios, visit: www.PistachioHealth.com