Health Benefits of Pecans
Pecans and your health...
Pecans are the only native American tree nut. Americans enjoy pecans for most of our holiday cooking; creating delicious deserts such as pecan pie, fudge and divinity, Cheese Balls with Roasted Pecans, and other scrumptious recipes. Research over the past decade has re-defined our favorite tree nut and discovered how healthy the pecan is for our bodies.
For example, according to research published on the National Pecan Sheller's Association Web site www.ilovepecans.com, Pecans are rich in antioxidants and very heart healthy. Nutritionists now tell us that by adding just a handful of pecans to our diet each day, we are helping our bodies prevent heart disease.
Studies published on the Texas A&M Web site indicate that for "weight loss, pecan consumption may increase metabolic rates and enhance satiety." This online publication named "Pecan Health Studies," quotes other pecan-related studies conducted at public universities, like Loma Linda, New Mexico State, and this one by Scott Grundy of the Southwest Texas Medical Center in Dallas. Among other things, the findings show that the "Vitiman E in pecans (gamma tocopherol) help improve intestinal and prostate health." That's not bad for a nut that contains more than 19 vitamins and minerals!
The report also shows that "Pecan kernels contain 65 to 70 percent oil. Approximately 73 percent of fresh pecan oil consists of monounsaturated (oleic) and 17 percent polyunsaturated (linoleic) fatty acids. Oleic is the same fatty acid found in olives. Olive oil has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease."
Therefore, it is safe to assume that incorporating pecans into our recipes will not only add a delicious flavor and texture, but also lead to better dietary compliance.
Pecan Health Articles
- The Pecan - The healthy nut!
- Pecans and low cholesterol...
- Pecans and dieting...
- Pecans and affects on cancer...
The Pecan - The healthy nut!
Pecans are a “Heart-Healthy” nut. This means that the fats contained in pecans are mostly unsaturated fats with less than ten percent saturated. Pecans also have no trans fat.
Pecans are also rich in antioxidants which promote healthy blood flow decreasing heart disease. Oxidation of blood lipids is damaging to health. Pecans have a considerable amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant. Antioxidants are often found in foods attributed to protecting against cell damage and can help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease. A study by Iowa’s Women’s Healthy Study in 1996 showed that women who eat nuts regularly are forty percent less likely to die of heart disease and a similar study in 2002 by the Physician’s Health Study found that men who eat nuts have reduced risks of sudden cardiac death.
Pecans are amongst the “top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity.” Pecans have more antioxidants than almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
Pecans and low cholesterol...
A pecan enriched diet can lower cholesterol due to the plant sterols they contain. The plant sterols are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability. Studies have shown that eating pecans as part of a health conscious diet can lower total cholesterol by 11.3 percent and LDL, “bad,” cholesterol levels by 16.5 percent.
Monounsaturated fats, found in pecan oil, can lower LDL cholesterol more effectively than polyunsaturated fats which also lower the HDL.
Eating at least 1.5 ounces of pecans a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Pecans and dieting...
According to some studies, eating nuts may enhance satiety and increase metabolism. As part of a low-fat diet, nuts, like pecans, can add flavor encouraging diet compliance.
Pecans are 73.41% fat, so they are a substantial source of energy. Twenty pecan halves provide about 100 calories filled with long lasting benefits, as compared to foods with the same caloric content and fewer or no health benefits.
Pecans are a natural source for protein and over 19 vitamins and minerals while being free of sodium. One ounce of pecans serves as much protein as two servings from the meat and beans group in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Pecans are included in the meat and beans group because it contains roughly the same amount of protein and nutrients as meat, poultry, fish, beans, and seeds. Some of the minerals pecans contain are niacin, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and others. Pecans also contain 10 percent of the recommended Daily value for fiber in one ounce.
Many nuts also contain phytic acid which may reduce cancer risk and help to control blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Pecans and affects on cancer...
Ellagic acid is a compound found in pecans as well as raspberries, strawberries, walnuts, pomegranates, and other plant foods.
This compound has shown some anti-cancer properties in lab studies. Though nothing can be proven for humans, ellagic acid has caused apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells and reduced the effect estrogen has in the promotion of breast cancer cells. Unfortunately, not all promising lab studies have been found effective in humans.
Only one study of ellagic acid has been reported. Italian researchers found that ellagic acid reduced the affects of chemotherapy in men with advanced prostate cancer but they caution that more research will need to be conducted before any conclusions can be drawn.
Raspberries, strawberries, and pomegranates contain the highest levels of ellagic acid but a balanced diet containing at least five servings of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, or beans, is still the best option. Interactions of ellagic acid and other compounds are still unknown. Any supplementary consumption should be consulted with a doctor.
Pecans cannot do it alone. We must incorporate them into our diets along with many other wholesome foods such as fresh vegetables, grains and fruits.
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