Pistachio nuts may improve erectile function

Pistachio nuts have a unique nutritional profile – they are especially rich in plant sterols, carotenoids, tocopherols (vitamin E), and arginine.  Plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol, and provide a cholesterol-lowering benefit.1 All nuts have cholesterol-lowering and other cardioprotective effects, but pistachios (in a tie with Mediterranean pine nuts) have the highest plant sterol content of all nuts.  Studies investigating the effects of pistachios on cardiovascular disease risk factors not only reported reduced cholesterol levels, but also decreased inflammatory markers, increased blood antioxidant levels and reduced oxidative stress.2-4 In addition to antioxidants and plant sterols, pistachios are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that is involved in nitric oxide production, which regulates relaxation of arterial smooth muscle and therefore blood flow.  In a previous study, pistachio supplementation resulted in enhanced endothelial cell function, which means that nitric oxide availability was increased.4

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is primarily a disorder of penile blood flow, most often accompanied by chronic conditions that affect the vasculature, such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Atherosclerosis in peripheral arteries is known to contribute to the impaired blood flow in this condition.  Atherosclerosis is usually preceded by endothelial dysfunction, which decreases nitric oxide bioavailability, leading to impaired blood flow regulation.  Since pistachios have confirmed cholesterol-lowering effects and are rich in arginine (which helps to produce nitric oxide), scientists tested whether pistachios could enhance erectile function in men with ED.

Subjects in the study consumed 100 grams of pistachio nuts (about 3 ounces) each day for three weeks. Erectile function was evaluated by subjects’ reports and also by blood flow measurement with ultrasound.  After three weeks of pistachio supplementation, both the erectile function scores based on subjects’ reports and the velocity of penile blood flow were improved.  The men’s cholesterol levels also improved.5

The health of the heart and blood vessels is crucial to the health of the entire body.  Eating to restore cardiovascular health will improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to all tissues, improving overall health. Like several other chronic diseases, erectile dysfunction shares the same risk factors with cardiovascular disease.  Antioxidants, plant sterols, and arginine promote blood vessel health and are provided in abundance by a high nutrient diet made up of whole plant foods.



1. Ellegard LH, Andersson SW, Normen AL, et al: Dietary plant sterols and cholesterol metabolism. Nutr Rev 2007;65:39-45.

2. Kay CD, Gebauer SK, West SG, et al: Pistachios increase serum antioxidants and lower serum oxidized-LDL in hypercholesterolemic adults. J Nutr 2010;140:1093-1098.

3. Kocyigit A, Koylu AA, Keles H: Effects of pistachio nuts consumption on plasma lipid profile and oxidative status in healthy volunteers. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD 2006;16:202-209.

4. Sari I, Baltaci Y, Bagci C, et al: Effect of pistachio diet on lipid parameters, endothelial function, inflammation, and oxidative status: a prospective study. Nutrition 2010;26:399-404.

5. Aldemir M, Okulu E, Neselioglu S, et al: Pistachio diet improves erectile function parameters and serum lipid profiles in patients with erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res 2011;23:32-38.


Eating to Live on the Outside: Millennium

Happy Saturday, hopefully you slept in. If you did and you woke up hungry, perfect timing! Today Eating to Live on the Outside is off to San Francisco, California and chowing down at Millennium, a healthy vegetarian restaurant serving environmentally friendly foods.

Okay, I’m not really going to California. In fact, I’m enjoying my break from blogging. I actually wrote this on Wednesday and just pretended it is Saturday. So, since we’re playing make believe, let’s assume I’m REALLY at Millennium. In that case, here’s a list of things I might order:

Ruby Grapefruit & Endive Salad

  • Ginger pickled onions, sweet & spicy toasted cashews, rosehip-beet vinaigrette, ruby grapefruit, endive and toasted pumpkin seed oil. Dr. Fuhrman’s not a big fan of grapefruit. But if I eat grapefruit once a year it’s a lot. So I’m okay with it. As for the pumpkin seed oil, I’d order that on the side.

Romaine Salad

  • Julienne carrots, Romaine lettuce, toasted croutons and Caesar vinaigrette. Looks good, but I’d ditch the croutons and get the dressing on the side again.

Wilted Bloomsdale Spinach & Dandelion Green Salad

  • Green tea-miso glazed tofu, spinach, dandelions, orange-ginger tamari vinaigrette, burdock-hijiki kimpura and kumquats. I love dandelion greens and spinach and the exotic stuff sounds very cool.

Grilled Asparagus Salad

  • Little gem lettuce, asparagus, creamy pink peppercorn "ranch", sun dried tomato relish and crisp spring garlic chips. I’m not sure what garlic chips are but I’d give them a whirl.

Black Bean Torte

  • Whole wheat tortilla, caramelized plantains, smoky black bean puree, pumpkin-habanero salsa verde, cashew sour cream and strawberry-jicama salsa. I’d try it, but I’m pretty sure I would regret the habanero salsa later that evening. Ouch!

Charmoula Grilled Portobello Mushroom

  • Saffron scented borlotti bean, Portobello mushroom, fava green, root vegetable tajine, pistachio, mint, bulgar salad, Meyer lemon and dried apricot vinaigrette. Sounds great, all sorts of tasty things!

Seared Emerald Rice Cake

  • Indonesian red coconut curry, winter root vegetables, lemongrass tofu, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, pineapple sambal and toasted peanuts. I like this too, I can deal with the rice.

Wow! I got to be honest. I was barely smart enough to decipher Millennium’s menu. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Okay, back to business. If I was eating at Millennium, I’d probably order the Charmoula Grilled Portobello Mushroom or the Grilled Asparagus Salad, but I like the mushroom best.

Sure, it was a little tough to get through the menu but I think Millennium is cool. You’d certainly find something decent to eat. Maybe you like what I picked maybe you’d order something different. Either way, flip through Millennium's menu and let me know what catches your eye. Peace.

Image credit: Millennium