Pecans are as nutritious to eat as they are delicious. These delicate nuts are excellent sources of protein and contain energy producing nutrients ? carbohydrates. The fat found in pecans is mostly polyunsaturated and contains no cholesterol. Pecans add fiber to your diet and contain iron, calcium, vitamins A, B, and C, potassium and phosphorous. Pecans also add flavor and a delighted crunchiness to a variety of foods. Adding ten large pecan halves to your salads, toppings, vegetables, meat dishes and desserts will add 65 nutritious calories to your diet
Health Benefits of Pecans
Medical researchers give pecans the thumbs-up for their ability to lower
cholesterol when small amounts are included in the diet on a regular basis.
Scientists exploring the beneficial properties of pecans discovered they are a
concentrated source of plant sterols known to lower cholesterol.
In addition, pecans contain phytochemicals that offer antioxidant protection
from many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Because pecans contain mostly monounsaturated fatty acids, they are touted by
the American Heart Association that advises Americans to"substitute grains and
unsaturated fatty acids from fish, vegetables, legumes and nuts" and limit their
intake of saturated fats. Pecans are sodium-free and contain more than19
different vitamins and minerals, making them an ideal nutritious alternative to
animal-based foods. Oleic acid is the main monounsaturated acid in most nuts,
including pecans, and is credited with lowering LDL cholesterol while not
affecting the HDL. Many studies reveal that a high ratio of monounsaturates to
polyunsaturates is helpful in reducing risk of heart disease. Essential oil from
the pecan is used as an inhalant as well as topical oil. Putting 2 or 3 drops on
a handkerchief and breathing the oil stimulates the body to make antibodies,
endorphins, and neurotransmitters that help build a strong immune system.
Benefits can also be derived from putting the oil into the bathtub, a diffuser,
or even a footbath. Pecans are high in zinc, a mineral that helps the body to
generate testosterone. Both men and women benefit from good levels of
testosterone, a hormone responsible for sparking sexual desire.
Blood Pressure. While eating pecans and other nuts can’t
cure high blood pressure, they are an important part of the DASH (Dietary
Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan, developed by the National
Institutes of Health. The DASH diet also falls right in line with the new 2005
U.S. Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating issued by the Department of Health
and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. Research has shown that
following the DASH diet is an effective way to lower blood pressure, while
supercharging your diet with much needed nutrients. One part of the DASH dietary
prescription? Eat 4 to 5 servings (1 1⁄2 oz each) of pecans a week.
Heart Health. Researchers from Loma Linda University in
California and New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, have
confirmed that when pecans are part of the daily diet, levels of “bad”
cholesterol in the blood drop. Pecans get their cholesterol-lowering ability
from both the type of fat they contain and the presence of beta-sitosterol, a
natural cholesterol-lowering compound. Eating 1 1⁄2 ounces of pecans a day (27
to 30 pecan halves), when its part of a heart-healthy diet, can reduce the risk
of heart disease.
Breast Cancer. Pecans are a rich source of oleic acid, the same
type of fatty acid found in olive oil. Researchers from Northwestern University
in Chicago recently found in laboratory tests that oleic acid has the ability to
suppress the activity of a gene in cells thought to trigger breast cancer. While
this area of study is still in its early stages, the researchers say it could
eventually translate into a recommendation to eat more foods rich in oleic acid,
like pecans and olive oil. A one-ounce serving of pecans provides about 25% more
oleic acid than a one-tablespoon serving of olive oil.
Weight Control. Contrary to the widely held, but mistaken
belief that “nuts are fattening,” several population studies found that as nut
consumption increased, body fat actually decreased. And clinical studies have
confirmed that conclusion, finding that eating nuts actually resulted in lower
weights. One study from Harvard School of Public Health discovered that people
following a weight-loss diet that contained 35% of calories from fat, including
pecans as a fat source, were able to keep weight off longer than people
following a traditionally recommended lower fat diet. With their super nutrition
profile and low-carb content, pecans also make a perfect choice for people
following low-carb weight-loss plans.