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Pecans

Pecans

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.

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