(NewsTarget) The pistachio nut, a native to the Middle East, is one of the oldest flowering nut trees with archaeological evidence of the nut dating back to 7,000 BC. Once known to be an exclusively royal food, it remains one of the least explored of the nut varieties. In recent months, researchers from the University of Toronto, Penn State University, and George Mason University in conjunction with Inova Fairfax Hospital, conducted three different studies on pistachios with stellar results for this lime-green colored kernel.Antioxidant-rich pistachio eases the effects of daily stressDuring the Penn State study, researchers added pistachios to a healthy moderate-fat diet and investigated the effects on cardiovascular response. The nut was incorporated into the subjects' diets between snack and other foods such as pesto, granola or muffins. Stressors were then introduced as two tests: psychological and physical.The researchers found positive results with as little as 1 and 1/2 oz of pistachio added daily to the diet, where reductions in stress effects were visible on blood pressure. Consuming 3 oz of pistachios daily showed even greater relaxation of the arteries, thereby easing the workload on the heart.Pistachios greatly reduce risks of heart diseaseResults from researchers at George Mason University and Penn State also indicate beneficial effects in reducing some blood lipids simply by adding one or two handfuls daily of pistachios to a moderately healthy diet. Significant reductions were observed in total cholesterol in the blood by 8.4% and in the LDL or bad cholesterol by 11.6%. In both studies, considerable reductions on the predictors of cardiovascular disease were observed when pistachios were added to the diet. Moreover, the antioxidant properties of the nut can also contribute to the reduction of inflammation, a root cause of many diseases, as well as oxidation by free radicals.The super nut blunts the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugarWell known for their research on blood sugar, Dr. Cyril Kendall and Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto recently presented their findings at an Experimental Biology conference in Washington D.C. Among the pistachio benefits highlighted was this nut's significant effect on lowering the response of blood glucose after the consumption of carbohydrate rich foods such as mashed potatoes, pasta or rice. They found that the positive impact on blood sugar increased with an increase of pistachios consumed with those meals. This exciting news could be promising for the millions of Americans suffering every year from the effects of diabetes. Most diabetes sufferers also deal with other risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, all precursors to cardiovascular disease.Can't go wrong with pistachiosAdding a handful or two of pistachio a day to your daily regiment is not only beneficial but also presents no harm in weight gain, blood pressure and require no major lifestyle changes. This heart-healthy, protein-rich snack also contains antioxidants usually found in leafy green vegetables and brightly colored fruits. High levels of phytosterols and fiber as well give them cholesterol-lowering properties. Lastly, pistachios are packed with a variety of nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium, lutein, choline, calcium, manganese and copper.This delicious sweet nut is one of my favorite snacks. It makes a great addition to smoothies and makes a perfect paste to add in salad dressings or even as a sweet filling with a little stevia in filo dough. Let your imagination go wild and enjoy pistachios daily. For the ultimate pistachio flavor, try it raw during the season between mid to late summer. You can find it at Mediterranean grocery stores across the country, but mostly in California where 90% of the pistachios in the U.S. are produced. Alternatively, soaking raw dried pistachios overnight can yield a similarly delicious flavor.