American Pistachio Growers Celebrate World Pistachio Day with Good News

Just a week after the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), American Pistachio Growers, the trade association representing more than 625 pistachio grower members in California, Arizona and New Mexico is celebrating the good news today – on World Pistachio Day.

People who eat tree nuts on a daily basis, including pistachios, are making healthy choices, according to the report. The recommended guidelines emphasize a diet higher in plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seafood to lower the risk of chronic diseases, particularly those associated with obesity. These recommendations are consistent with the findings of numerous science-based studies on the role of tree nuts, including pistachios, in preventing obesity and providing other health benefits. The report provides the scientific evidence for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are expected to be published by the end of 2015.

About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and about half of adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases. Poor dietary and physical activity patterns are associated with these conditions. Pistachios have been shown to play a positive role in weight management, blood sugar management, heart health and as a post exercise snack.

“It’s no wonder that more than 1/3 of Americans are obese. We’re eating too much salt, saturated fat, refined grains and added sugar resulting in excess weight, unhealthy blood sugar levels and deficiencies in calcium, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, D, E, and C,” says Cheryl Forberg, Nutrition Ambassador to American Pistachio Growers.

Forberg continues, “Thankfully, the new guidelines suggest more whole foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, nuts, such as pistachios, and seeds to offset our nutrient needs and promote healthier weights and blood sugar levels.” One of the nation’s leading advisors on health and nutrition, Cheryl is a New York Times bestselling author, James Beard award-winning chef and the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

Pistachios a Source of Important Shortfall Nutrients

Pistachios can help consumers meet a minimum of shortfall nutrients identified by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee while limiting overconsumption of sodium and saturated fatty acids. These nutrients include vitamins A, D & C, folate, calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and iron for adolescent and premenopausal women. Of these, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, potassium and iron are considered of public health concern.

A 1-ounce 160 calorie serving of pistachios provides:

  • 290 mg potassium (8% Daily Value)
  • 3 g total fiber (12 % Daily Value) making pistachios a “good” source of fiber
  • 6% Daily Value of iron
  • 8% Daily Value for magnesium

In addition, unsalted pistachios are a sodium-free food. Pistachios provide 13 g of total fat primarily monounsaturated fatty acids (7 g) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (4 g) with about 1.5 g saturated fatty acids.

Three USDA-Recognized Healthy Diet Patterns Include Nuts

The Committee encouraged consumers to adopt dietary patterns low in saturated fat, added sugars and sodium. These include Healthy U.S.-Style, Healthy Vegetarian and Healthy Mediterranean diets. Such patterns are:

  • Rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts such as pistachios
  • Moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products
  • Lower in red and processed meat
  • Low in sugar sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains

 

About American Pistachio Growers

            American Pistachio Growers (APG) is a non-profit voluntary agricultural trade association representing more than 625 grower members in California, Arizona and New Mexico. APG is governed by a democratically-elected board of directors and is funded by growers and independent processors with the shared goal of increasing global awareness of nutritious American-grown pistachios. For more information, visit AmericanPistachios.org.

A Cross Sectional Study of the Association between Walnut Consumption and Cognitive Function among Adult US Populations

Objective: To examine the association between walnut consumption and measures of cognitive function in the US population.

Design: Nationally representative cross sectional study using 24 hour dietary recalls of intakes to assess walnut and other nut consumption as compared to the group reporting no nut consumption.

Method: Setting: 1988-1994 and 1999-2002 rounds of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Population: Representative weighted sample of US adults 20 to 90 years of age. The Neurobehavioral Evaluation System 2 (NES2), consisting of simple reaction time (SRTT), symbol digit substitution (SDST), the single digit learning (SDLT), Story Recall (SRT) and digit-symbol substitution (DSST) tests.

Results: Adults 20-59 years old reporting walnut consumption of an average of 10.3 g/d required 16.4ms less time to respond on the SRTT, P=0.03, and 0.39s less for the SDST, P=0.01. SDLT scores were also significantly lower by 2.38s (P=0.05). Similar results were obtained when tertiles of walnut consumption were examined in trend analyses. Significantly better outcomes were noted in all cognitive test scores among those with higher walnut consumption (P < 0.01). Among adults 60 years and older, walnut consumers averaged 13.1 g/d, scored 7.1 percentile points higher, P=0.03 on the SRT and 7.3 percentile points higher on the DSST, P=0.05. Here also trend analyses indicate significant improvements in all cognitive test scores (P < 0.01) except for SRTT (P = 0.06) in the fully adjusted models.

Conclusion: These significant, positive associations between walnut consumption and cognitive functions among all adults, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity suggest that daily walnut intake may be a simple beneficial dietary behavior.

UC Researchers Trying to Understand Roll of Green Waste and Manure

Almond Growers Are Asked to Return Survey

Researchers are trying to find out the benefit of adding green waste from animal manure and adding it to the soil of permanent crops, and they  are looking for information from local growers.

A team of UC Davis and UC Merced researchers are trying to find how and why fruit and nut growers are using organic matter amended to their soils. These amendments might include green waste composted or non composted animal manure.

The goal of this survey is to help develop better approaches so the organic matter amendment can be used more safely, according to Daniel Schellenberg, postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis, who is the coordinator of the project.

“We’re hoping to find out the benefit to the orchard for using these types of materials and how they might improve environmental quality but as well as to find out are they benefit tree nutrition are they changing the biology in the soil, or they simply increasing the capacity of the soil to hold water.” said Schellenberg.

All California almond growers will be getting a survey in their mailboxes this week.

“We’re working with in partnership with the Almond Board of California we were able to have a mailing that will go out to almond growers about their practices and have also built a website that will allow all growers of trees, fruits, and nuts to be able to take the survey.” said Schellenberg

The survey can be found here.

Previously, the Almond Board of California stated that growers should not use these amendment due to food safety, but there has been no field trials to show the risk. A research goal is to find how amends can be used safely, and to determine how much nitrogen certain amendments can provide for tree and  vines.