Are Pecans Good for You?
A tree nut native to North America, pecans are rich, buttery, and can be found in many dishes. From appetizers and main courses to delicious desserts, they take the spotlight in many recipes such as pecan pie, pecan chicken salad, and more. However, not too many people are aware of the many benefits pecans provide. Not only are they tasty, but they are also good for your heart and are extremely nutritious. If you are not completely sold on putting pecans at the top of your favorites list for snacking, check out this guide to pecan health benefits that will be sure to change your mind.
Health Benefits of Pecans
Pecans are one of the healthiest nuts around. Explore just some of the ways these crunchy little morsels can lead to a healthier you!
Did you know that pecans are recognized and certified as a "Heart-Healthy Food" by the American Heart Association? According to the Journal of Nutrition, research has shown that eating one handful of pecans a day can help lower cholesterol levels. They can actually help bring cholesterol levels down to the same levels as cholesterol-lowering prescription medications. Of course you shouldn't start or stop any medication without talking to your doctor, but it never hurts to enjoy pecans and get a cholesterol-busting benefit.
This amazing ability is due in part to pecans being rich in healthy fats. Pecans are full of unsaturated fats that provide a protective effect against heart disease by lowering cholesterol if eaten in moderate amounts. That's because pecans have a makeup containing 70% pecan oil, which has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. They have also been proven to significantly reduce blood pressure levels and prevent other heart-related health issues.
Breast Cancer and Osteoporosis Prevention
Pecans are great for your heart, but they can also help prevent breast cancer and osteoporosis. Pecans contain oleic acid, which not only helps provide the body with energy through monounsaturated fats but also has been found to reduce the risks of breast cancer.
Pecans also contain phosphorous, an important mineral that helps promote healthy bones and teeth. This mineral also helps maintain the body's waste system, reinforces bones, and helps prevent muscle pain and cramping from exercise. As a result, pecans are known to effectively reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Improve Brain Function
Mood swings, learning disabilities, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease are just a few issues that concern us regarding brain function. However, pecans may help improve brain function and reduce these conditions and others. Pecans contain high levels of thiamine and copper, which work together to act as a blocker against free radical damage in the brain. In fact, a study once showed that older adults who ate at least 10 grams of nuts per day were less likely to have poor cognition by 40%.
Healthy fats and fatty acids that are provided in pecans help with weight loss. Manganese and other "good for you" fats help to trigger a hormone called Ghrelin, which helps the body to feel satisfied and full after eating.
A fast metabolic system also requires copper in 50 different ways to supply the body with adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP. ATP is essential to capturing chemical energy from the breakdown of food and delivering that energy throughout the body for other cellular processes. Pecans contain copper as well as thiamine, which are both known to help boost ATP production.
Nutrition of Pecans
Pecans may be small, but they pack a big, healthy punch. Pecans' nutritional value is full of vitamins and minerals that are key to preventing an array of health issues. Containing more than 19 vitamins and minerals in all, they are a quick and easy way to get what you need. Take a look at some of the valuable nutrition benefits pecans can provide for your body.
Pecans provide an excellent, natural source of protein that has almost no carbohydrates and no cholesterol. Just 28 grams of pecans contains 2.5 grams of protein towards the recommended total daily amount.
A key mineral found in pecans, zinc is necessary for immune function, cell growth, brain function, and wound healing. A 28-gram serving of pecans boasts 12% of the daily value for zinc intake.
As previously mentioned, copper is crucial for supplying the body with ATP. Pecans provide copper that also assists with nerve cell function, immune health, and the reproduction of red blood cells. Eating 28 grams of pecans contributes 38% of the value recommended for copper each day.
Fiber is important for digestive health and reduces blood sugar. An excellent source of soluble fiber, pecans provide 10% of the recommended daily value from just 28 grams.
How do Pecans Compare to Other Nuts?
We all know that pecans are not the only nuts available to eat. You may have another favorite that you like to eat as a treat. However, how do other nuts, such as walnuts, peanuts, and almonds, stack up in health benefits compared to pecans? Check out the comparison of pecans and some other popular nut options to see which ones provide the best nutritional benefits for your needs.
Pecans vs. Almonds
According to a study done by the United States Department of Agriculture, also known as the USDA, pecans are the cream of the crop when it comes to providing antioxidants. While almonds deliver approximately 1,265 micromoles per gram, pecans have a whopping 5,095 micromoles per gram.
Pecans also contain fewer carbohydrates, holding on 4 grams per 28 ounces while almonds have 6 grams per 28 ounces.
However, if you are looking for a nut that is packed full of protein, almonds take the lead with 6 grams of protein in every 28 ounces compared to pecans that have only 2.5 grams.
Pecans vs. Walnuts
Walnuts are low in carbohydrates, with only 4 grams in 28 ounces, putting them right beside the carbohydrate content of pecans. They also provide healthy fats like pecans do, including omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Much like pecans, walnuts also provide healthy fiber and have been proven to promote healthy brain function with the help of zinc. Walnuts also support weight loss.
Although walnuts and pecans provide much of the same benefits, pecans are the best nut to select for doses of antioxidants. Even though walnuts are the next best choice, pecans provide 1,279 more micromoles per gram.
Pecans vs. Peanuts
Peanuts are a popular option for many when it comes to nuts. Boasting 7 grams of protein in a single serving, they nudge ahead of pecans, which contain only 6 grams. This makes peanuts an excellent choice for a nut that is protein-rich.
Comparable to almonds, peanuts also have a higher amount of total carbohydrates per 28 grams than pecans. If you want a low-carb nut, it would be best to go with pecans, which only have 4 grams of carbs.
Pecans and peanuts are quite similar when it comes to providing benefits such as aiding in weight loss and lowering the risks of heart disease. However, peanuts rank extremely low in antioxidants. While pecans are at the top of the list for providing abundant amounts of antioxidants at 5,095 micromoles per gram, peanuts only offer 899 micromoles per gram.
Are Pecans Keto?
The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, has been recommended by many health professionals for its many benefits. Keto has been proven to aid in weight loss, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and decrease the chances of heart disease by achieving a state of ketosis. When the body is moved into this state, there are high amounts of ketones in the blood, causing the body to burn fats due to little to no access to glucose.
However, the keto diet comes with very specific limitations. A standard keto diet is made of approximately 75% fats, 20% proteins, and 5% carbohydrates. With such strict percentages, it can be difficult and confusing to find foods that will help you stick with the keto diet. You may be wondering if pecans are a viable option. Take a closer look at pecans and how they can help you stay on the ketogenic track.
As the keto diet only allows for 20g to 50g of carbohydrates a day, it is important to choose foods that will not shoot you over that limit. Pecans are extremely low in carbs and very high in fats, making them an excellent food choice for a ketogenic diet.
Because pecans have such a high content of healthy fats and so few carbs, they can actually help with achieving the state of ketosis much faster, in turn, allowing for quicker weight loss. Pecans are the best nut to choose for achieving and maintaining a keto diet.
Healthy Pecan Snacks and Recipes
There are so many ways to introduce pecans into your diet. Whether you want something sweet or savory, the versatility of pecans can always help feed your cravings. Take a look at some of the many delicious ways that pecans can be used as a healthy go-to snack or incorporated into an amazing meal.
Buttery Cinnamon Pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast pecans on a baking sheet for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Melt oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all of the pecans. Blend salt, sweet leaf stevia, cinnamon, and vanilla extract with the oil. Toss the pecans in the oil until well-coated. You can eat these warm or slightly cooled. Be sure to store the rest of the pecans in the refrigerator.
Pecan Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Halve acorn squash and remove the membrane and seeds and brush the flesh with olive oil. Slice off a bottom portion to allow the halves to sit upright without falling over. Place the squash cut-side down into a baking dish for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Halfway through baking, add water to the pan. Once the squash has been cooked about half, remove it from the oven and set aside.
Cook rice according to packing instructions. While the rice is cooking, whisk together olive oil, wine vinegar, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, combine the vinaigrette with the cooked rice until well coated. Add cranberries and pecans and toss until evenly blended. Use a spoon to fill the squash halves with the stuffing and pile it above the top line of the squash.
Place the halves back into the oven, stuffing side up, and cover with foil. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Maple Pecan Popcorn
Pop approximately 2 to 3 cups of popcorn according to package instructions. Distribute pure maple syrup evenly throughout the popcorn. Mix together chopped pecans and date sugar. Sprinkle over the maple-coated popcorn to taste and serve as a delicious snack.
Chevre Stuffed Peppers with Pecans
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Open roasted red peppers by making a slit on one side and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a spoonful of goat cheese to the center of each pepper, spreading evenly. Sprinkle basil, toasted pecans, and raisins on top, saving some of each to use as a garnish later.
Carefully close each pepper and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Bake the peppers for approximately 10 minutes or until the goat cheese is bubbling. Serve with a garnish of the remaining basil, raisins, and pecans.
Better-For-You Pecan Pie
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs in a large bowl and mix in coconut oil. Blend in brown sugar, white sugar, and flour and thoroughly mix. Add milk, vanilla, and nuts and blend well.
Pour the mixture into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until it is done.
Sweet Pea Fennel Soup
Sauté white onion and olive oil until caramelized in a large skillet. This will take about 5 minutes or so. Add fennel and leeks, cooking until soft. Transfer the mixture into a food processor and add sea salt, brewed green tea, honey, fresh baby spinach, orange zest, fresh orange juice, non-fat Greek yogurt, and ground pecans. Pulse the processor until smooth.
Place into serving bowls and garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh oregano leaves.
Get Your Deliciously Healthy Pecans at Lane Southern Orchards
Since 1908, Lane Southern Orchards has been growing the best varieties of pecans. Our farm boasts 11,000 acres of pecan groves, peach orchards, strawberries, and 40 acres of apples. Located in the heart of Georgia, we are dedicated to providing you with the most delicious farm produce as well as baked goods, homemade ice cream, and freshly smoked BBQ, all of which can be found in our PeachTree Cafe.
For some of the best pecans, peaches, and strawberries around, trust in the farmers at Lane Southern Orchards. Come explore our farm and shop our store. We are open every day, year-round. We look forward to seeing you and showing you the Lane Southern Orchards difference!