Pecans, a nut native to North America, contain a host of health benefits. Native Americans used pecans as their main source of nutrition when meat was scarce. Recent research indicates that pecans may offer several health benefits, including:
High Protein and Fiber Content
3 ½ ounces of pecans contain 9 grams of protein and 10 grams of dietary fiber.
High in Antioxidants
Pecans contain the highest amount of antioxidants of any tree nut. Antioxidants are substances that protect the cells of the body from free radical damage, which may help to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. One of the antioxidants contained in pecans is Vitamin E. This important nutrient helps prevent the oxidation of lipids in the body, which can aid in prevention of clogged arteries and heart disease.
High in Plant Sterols
Pecans are naturally high in plant sterols. Consuming plant sterols may lower LDL. Plant sterols have the ability to block your body from absorbing cholesterol. This is another way that eating pecans may be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.
High in Minerals
Pecans are a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Minerals are important to all functions of the body. You are more likely to be mineral deficient than vitamin deficient, so it’s important to consume foods with good mineral content.
Helps with Weight Loss
Research indicates that a diet rich in nuts, such as pecans, can help with losing weight and keeping it off. It’s thought that nut consumption enhances satiety (a feeling of fullness) and increases metabolism.
Other Information about Pecans
Pecans are harvested in the fall but are available for purchase year round. When buying pecans in their shells, keep in mind that nuts that are light weight, and if they rattle when shaken, they’re probably old. Look for nuts that are plump and uniform in size and color, when purchasing shelled pecans. Pecans are sold raw or roasted and may be sugared, glazed or spiced.
Pecans in the shell may be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year. To get the maximum shelf life out of shelled pecans, store them in the refrigerator (up to 9 months), or freezer (up to 2 years).
Pecans are often associated with desserts, like pecan pie and pecan chocolate chip cookies, but there are many healthy ways to incorporate these tasty nuts into your diet. Toss some candied pecans into your salad. Try encrusting chicken or pork tenderloin with chopped, raw pecans prior to cooking. Use them to top low fat oatmeal muffins. Pecans added to fruit flavored yogurt make for a tasty dessert-like snack. Consider adding some pecans and grapes to chicken salad to really jazz it up.
Whether you eat them raw or incorporate them into your recipes, adding pecans to your diet can be a tasty way to meet a lot of your nutritional needs.