Pecans are often underrated and underappreciated. These tree nuts offer a ton of flavor and nutrients—almost as much as their counterparts almonds and walnuts. Packed with antioxidants and unsaturated fats, pecans are a great addition to a healthy diet. Like most nuts, you can use pecans in various ways: snack, condiment, or in a dinner recipe.
Incorporating nutrient-dense food into your diet prevents chronic illness and your reliance on dietary supplements. By making conscious choices in your diet and including heart-healthy foods like pecans, you can delay the aging process and enjoy your day-to-day life more.
Check out the amazing health benefits of fresh pecans!
Pecans are a perfect mid-day snack and addition to most recipes because they are nutrient-packed. Why are pecans such a hearty snack? They provide high levels of fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats help lower cholesterol levels and keep you full longer than saturated fats while keeping your arteries clear from cholesterol.
Check out the nutrition information on an ounce of pecans:
- 200 calories
- 3 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of protein
- 20 grams of unsaturated fats
Like other tree nuts, pecans are an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are responsible for increasing your immunity, protecting you from diseases like heart disease and cancers. Here are some of the antioxidants that pecans offer:
- Zinc – Zinc helps your body fight off bacteria and viruses that would otherwise invade your cells. The body also uses zinc to produce protein and DNA, help heal wounds, and regulate metabolism. Chicken and red meat are other dietary sources that provide high zinc levels.
- Phytonutrients — These are plant-based antioxidants that help your immune system work to its full potential. With an abundance of anti-inflammatory properties, phytonutrients repair DNA from toxins, combat carcinogens, and regulate estrogen. You can find this powerful antioxidant in other foods like garlic, kale, peppers, and sweet potatoes.
- Ellagic Acid – Ellagic acid is an excellent source for reducing your risk of cancer. Antioxidants like ellagic acid offer protection from cancer-causing molecules called free radicals. You can find ellagic acid in blueberries, pomegranates, and walnuts.
- Flavonoids — Pecans provide more flavonoids than any other nut. Diets high in flavonoids reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Some studies also suggest they can be an excellent aid to weight management. Other foods high in flavonoids include apples, grapes, prunes, and peppers.
Pecans offer a plethora of benefits for keeping your heart healthy. The monounsaturated fat content in pecans lowers your overall cholesterol level. Your body needs a certain amount of fat to replicate cells. Choosing unsaturated fats over saturated fats gives your body the fat it needs without the artery-clogging sludge that saturated fats provide. Avocados and olives are other excellent sources of unsaturated fats.
Beta carotene, another vitamin in pecans, also plays a vital role in your heart health. Once ingested, beta carotene becomes vitamin A and strengthens your heart and vision, and skin.
Pecans, like other nuts, also help to stimy cravings for salt. Low in sodium, pecans can satisfy salty snack cravings without raising your blood pressure as chips and other salty food would do.
Vitamin E is a phenomenal vitamin to include in your diet to mitigate the damaging effects of inflammation. Inflammation can lead to a host of problems like cancer, heart disease, and even nerve damage. Vitamin E and the other antioxidants in pecans reduce oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a natural process and causes aging. But it can cause undue cell and tissue damage. Slowing the amount of stress can help lower your risk of chronic disease. Including vitamin E in your diet can help protect organs like your heart and brain.
Be careful with vitamin E supplements, as too much can have the opposite effect and cause damage.
Pecans are an excellent source of minerals as well as vitamins. They are chock-full of manganese and copper—two essential minerals that create red blood cells and connective tissue. They also help enhance our metabolism. With a boosted metabolism, you’ll burn more calories at a resting state.
Low in Sugar
There is sugar in almost all of our foods. Refined sugar and simple carbohydrates might initially give you a surge of energy to start your day, but your spiked blood sugar will come crashing down shortly after.
Spikes in blood sugar cause lethargy in a short time. With prolonged exposure to the ups and downs caused by too much sugar in your diet, you could develop diabetes.
Pecans provide energy boosts without the sugar crash. Pecans can slow the rate your body absorbs these sugar spikes into tissues. Slowing the sugar absorption maintains your energy levels and prevents the sugar crash.
The amazing health benefits of fresh pecans include aiding in weight loss. The unsaturated fat and fiber content of pecans allows you to feel fuller longer. The fuller feeling is due in part to oleic acid, another unsaturated fat found in pecans.
Preventing sugar crashes is another way pecans help manage weight. When our blood sugar spikes and crashes, we are hungry more often and typically seek out foods full of simple carbohydrates.
Plant-based diets are known to make weight loss more attainable thanks to the high fiber content. Pecans and other tree nuts are staples in the Mediterranean diet and other diets focused on eliminating animal proteins.
Pecans are extremely shelf-stable food. Refrigerated pecans are good for up to nine months, while frozen pecans are good for two years. You can buy pecans online to use in various recipes to make your diet more nutrient-packed. Here are some pecan recipe ideas:
- Crush or chop pecans to add crunch to a salad. They make a great winter salad with fresh goat cheese and dried cranberries.
- Incorporate pecans and flaxseed into your morning oatmeal for added flavor and texture.
- Add protein to a vegetarian diet by incorporating pecans into dishes like grilled veggies, smoothies, and pasta.
- Use pecans in sauces like pesto or add to pasta dishes in place of cheese.
Pecans and other tree nuts offer so many positive benefits to every system in our bodies. Incorporating them into your diet will make weekday dishes not only more flavorful, but nutritious as well!