A Pecan a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
According to the USDA, pecans rank among the top 15 foods high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Pecans have been certified as a heart healthy food by the American Heart Association, partly because they help lower the levels of LDL–bad cholesterol–and help raise the level of HDL–good cholesterol. They are a good source of monounsaturated fat which helps reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors. Thirty grams of pecans have 25 percent more oleic acid, an unsaturated fat, than one tablespoon of olive oil.
A one-ounce serving of pecans provides 2.7 mg of dietary fiber which represents 10 percent of the recommended daily value. Fiber promotes colon health and helps prevent constipation. The high fiber content and high protein value also help keep you satiated which is conducive to weight loss. According to a study at Tufts University in conjunction with the National Pecan Shellers Association, pecans were shown to significantly improve insulin sensitivity, helping to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adults. Pecans are also free of gluten, sodium, and cholesterol.
Other Health Benefits
Pecans are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron and zinc. These vitamins and minerals boast a wide variety of benefits, including healthy skin and hair, an immunity booster, and they even help guard against inflammation in the body.
With many forms–halves, bits, meal and oil–it is easy to add pecans to your diet. Kristen Gradney, Registered Dietitian and Owner of Pure Nutrition, says, “Pecans are one of the most flavorful nuts, and by adding them to any dish, they can increase flavor and add many nutrients that not only improve your health, but help reduce hunger. You can add chopped pecans to your salads, breakfast cereals (think oatmeal). You can even add ground pecans to cornmeal coating on fish or chicken for a tasty, low-carbohydrate breading that you will love, or even substitute pecans in pesto for a flavorful twist.” ■