Health Benefits Of Pecans: Here’s Why You Should Go Nuts!

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Health Benefits Of Pecans

Pecans are a good source of healthy fats, protein, minerals, and vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E. They are rich in antioxidants that counter the effects of harmful free radicals. Pecans can also help lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and control blood sugar.

You may know the crunchy pecan as the star ingredient in that creamy pecan pie. But this buttery nut that pairs beautifully with both sweet and savory ingredients has much more to offer. Pecans are power-packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats that can do you a world of good. Here’s a detailed look at why pecans should feature more prominently in your meals. These nuts:

Are A Nutritional Powerhouse

Pecans are dense in energy as well as nutrients. They contain protein, minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E.1 That’s a lot of goodness packed into a tiny nut! In fact, epidemiologic research has found that consuming about an ounce of pecans or other tree nuts makes a significant difference to the quality of diet of adults in the United States. Intake of nutrients like vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber in particular improves.2

Are Rich In Antioxidants

Pecans contain phenolic compounds like ellagic, protocatechuic, gallic, and p-hydroxybenzoic acids as well as catechins which are high in antioxidant capacity 3 Antioxidants help counter the effects of free radicals, created through the natural process of oxidation in our bodies. An overload of free radicals can damage cells and DNA and has been implicated in various conditions like certain cancers, liver disease, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Snacking on pecans can give you a dose of beneficial antioxidants to counter these illnesses.4

Can Lower Cholesterol

It is estimated that 33.5% of adults in America have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or bad cholesterol.5 But you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels by adding pecans to your diet. One study compared the effects of following a heart-friendly diet recommended by the American Heart Association with a pecan-enriched diet where all the components of the heart-friendly diet were proportionately reduced by a fifth and replaced by pecans. It was found that the pecan-enriched diet lowered total and LDL cholesterol by 6.7% and 10.4%, respectively, beyond what the heart-friendly diet was able to achieve. The rich reserves of monounsaturated fat found in pecan may be responsible for this beneficial effect.6

Are Good For Your Heart

Pecans can do your heart a world of good. Not only do they lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which can damage your heart and contribute to heart disease, but they can also reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is a significant step in the development of heart disease.7 8 In fact, research indicates that having about 15 grams of pecans or other nuts per day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 24%.9 So snack on some delicious pecans to keep your heart healthy!

Can Control Blood Sugar

Eating pecans or other tree nuts can help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that people who have about half a cup of these nuts in a day have lower levels of fasting blood sugar than those who don’t. Experts suggest that this beneficial effect may be due to magnesium or unsaturated fats present in pecans. The fact that pecans replaced blood sugar-spiking carbs in the diet may also have played a part.10

Help You Live A Longer, Healthier Life

All the benefits that pecans offer can actually translate into a longer and healthier life for you. One large study that looked at people over a 30-year period found various benefits of consuming pecans and other nuts. Those who had a handful of nuts daily had a 20% lower chance of dying from any cause when compared to those who didn’t. They were less likely to die from heart disease or cancer and also tended to be slimmer. So what are you waiting for? Pick up some pecans for your mid-morning snack today.11

Nosh On Pecans: Different Ways To Get Them In

Chomp down a handful of pecans daily. These make a tasty and convenient snack. You can also sprinkle some on yogurt or breakfast cereal. Or how about spreading a little pecan butter on a cracker or toast? They are also a great addition to stir fries and salads and can even be used to encrust chicken or fish.12

References   [ + ]

1.Basic Report: 12142, Nuts, pecans. United States Department of Agriculture.
2.O’Neil, Carol E., Debra R. Keast, Victor L. Fulgoni, and Theresa A. Nicklas. “Tree nut consumption improves nutrient intake and diet quality in US adults: an analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 19, no. 1 (2010): 142.
3. de la Rosa, Laura A., Emilio Alvarez-Parrilla, and Fereidoon Shahidi. “Phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of kernels and shells of Mexican pecan (Carya illinoinensis).” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 59, no. 1 (2010): 152-162.
4.Antioxidants. Department of Health & Human Services.
5.Cholesterol Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
6. Rajaram, Sujatha, Kenneth Burke, Bertrum Connell, Tun Myint, and Joan Sabaté. “A monounsaturated fatty acid–rich pecan-enriched diet favorably alters the serum lipid profile of healthy men and women.” The Journal of nutrition 131, no. 9 (2001): 2275-2279.
7.Rajaram, Sujatha, Kenneth Burke, Bertrum Connell, Tun Myint, and Joan Sabaté. “A monounsaturated fatty acid–rich pecan-enriched diet favorably alters the serum lipid profile of healthy men and women.” The Journal of Nutrition 131, no. 9 (2001): 2275-2279.
8.Hudthagosol, Chatrapa, Ella Hasso Haddad, Katie McCarthy, Piwen Wang, Keiji Oda, and Joan Sabaté. “Pecans acutely increase plasma postprandial antioxidant capacity and catechins and decrease LDL oxidation in humans.” The Journal of nutrition 141, no. 1 (2011): 56-62.
9.Aune, Dagfinn, NaNa Keum, Edward Giovannucci, Lars T. Fadnes, Paolo Boffetta, Darren C. Greenwood, Serena Tonstad, Lars J. Vatten, Elio Riboli, and Teresa Norat. “Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” BMC Medicine 14, no. 1 (2016): 207.
10.Pill-free way to help lower blood sugar. Harvard Health Publications.
11.Nut consumption reduces risk of death. Harvard Gazette.
12.Get cracking: Why you should eat more nuts. Harvard Health Publications.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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