For the roughly 75 million Americans who make up the baby boom generation, a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons against age-related diseases.
"It's vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a strong, fit and healthy life," says Dr. Mike Roussell, a nationally recognized nutrition consultant and nutrition adviser to Men's Health and Shape. "Fueling your life with tasty and nutrient-rich foods while making sure to be active every single day are essential components to keeping your body young and vibrant."
Roussell's recommendation? Nuts. In particular, pistachios. "Pistachios are a multitasking nut with fiber, healthy fats, and three specific types of antioxidants that may help fight the onset of age-related conditions that lead to poor health in these 10 ways."
1. Heart health
Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. Pistachios provide 360-degree cardiovascular support in that they can promote improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood vessel function.
Excessive inflammation is one of the root causes of age-related conditions, such as arthritis. Pistachios contain a special form of vitamin E called gamma tocopherol, which has unique anti-inflammatory properties. Gamma tocopherol levels have also been shown to decrease as we age.
3. Weight loss
Being overweight can also contribute to a number of age-related illnesses. Studies show pistachios positively promote weight maintenance as the dietary fiber, fat and protein all work together to make us feel fuller and satiated longer, plus removing them from the shell slows down eating. Pistachios are also the lowest-fat nut.
The fiber in pistachios also can help with digestion. Research shows that the fiber in pistachios works as a prebiotic and feeds the good bacteria in our digestive tract to improve the health of our digestive system. A single serving of pistachios contains as much as 3 grams of dietary fiber.
5. Blood glucose level
Developing adult onset diabetes, or Type 2 diabetes, is a common fear for boomers. The American Diabetes Association praises the health benefits of nuts, including pistachios, calling them a diabetes superfood because they improve how the body's cells use glucose and how insulin responds to a carbohydrate-containing meal, namely, stabilizing blood glucose levels.
6. Skin health and appearance
UV light from the sun promotes damage and accelerates the aging of our skin. Pistachios contain two carotenoid antioxidants that are concentrated in the skin and work to filter out and protect it against the damaging effects of UV light.
Pistachios contain lutein, a nutrient known to help improve eye health, especially in older individuals. Lutein has been shown to prevent and slow down macular degeneration by providing more pigment for the eye, thereby reflecting more of the sun's light, preventing damage to the retina.
Preliminary research shows that the fatty acids and antioxidants found in pistachios can help support brain health. The antioxidants in pistachios can help ward off excessive inflammation in the brain, a major cause of accelerated cognitive decline. Another study found that eating pistachios stimulated brain waves that aid the formation of ideas and memory processing.
Nuts, including pistachios, are rich in minerals such as magnesium. One benefit of magnesium is that it may aid sleep because it assists in helping the muscles relax and quiet activity in the brain by working as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Pistachios have been shown to promote energy, which is why so many professional athletes consume them while training. More energy means we'll commit to getting enough exercise.
But what is Dr. Mike's main reason for having his clients eat pistachios? "They taste good. People are much more likely to stick to a healthy diet when the food is tasty and fun to eat."