Researchers at the University of Texas have found that eating a handful of pistachios every day may help reduce your risk of lung and other cancers.

That’s because pistachios are packed with gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E known to help protect against certain forms of cancer.

"Pistachios are a good source of gamma-tocopherol. Eating them increases intake of gamma-tocopherol so pistachios may help to decrease lung cancer risk," said Ladia M. Hernandez, senior research dietitian in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

But that’s not all pistachios are good for. The nuts also benefit the heart by producing a cholesterol-lowering effect and providing antioxidants typically found in foods that come from plants.

Other foods that are a rich source of gamma-tocopherol are peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and soybean and corn oils, said Hernandez.

To uncover the benefits of pistachios, Hernandez and colleagues conducted a six-week clinical trial to see if the consumption of pistachios increased dietary intake and levels of gamma-tocopherol.

Out of a group of 36 volunteers at Texas Woman's University, 18 were fed 68 grams of pistachios daily for two weeks, while the other 18 ate as they normally would. The pistachio group had major spikes of gamma-tocopherol in their blood, a condition the researchers say would make someone much less prone to developing cancer.

"Pistachios are one of those 'good-for-you' nuts, and 2 ounces per day could be incorporated into dietary strategies designed to reduce the risk of lung cancer without significant changes in body mass index," said Hernandez.

Disease fighters that crunch
A daily dose of pistachios could help prevent cancer.