Health Benefits of Pecans

Health Benefits of Pecans

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What are Pecans?

Pecans (Carya illinoinensis) are large-sized deciduous tree, which belongs to the member of hickory family, Juglandaceae. Pecan nuts are botanical fruits and not true nuts. Each fruit is generally oblong, wrinkled and dark brown in color.

Though the pecan tree is native to south central and south eastern regions of the United States, it is now cultivated around the world. The pecan tree is the state tree of Texas. Spanish explorers used to call the pecan, nuez de la arruga that translates close to the meaning "wrinkle nut".

Health Benefits of Pecans

Nutritional Highlights

Among the nuts, pecans contain highest amount of total phenols, proanthocyanidins, flavonoids and flavan-3-ols. Pecans are about 74% fat out of which 8% is saturated fats, 58% is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and 27% is polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Pecans contain (24 mg/100g) of gamma tocopherols (160% Daily Value). Pecans are a rich source of manganese, copper, magnesium, thiamine, phosphorus, zinc, iron, protein and fiber. Pecans contain β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Health Benefits of Pecans

Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Pecans are believed to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in people with normal lipid levels. Studies have shown that total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are lowered after consuming pecan diet. Beta-sitosterol in pecans is known to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce absorption of cholesterol in the body. Pecans have about 95 milligrams of plant sterols per 100 grams and 90 percent of that, is in the form of beta-sitosterol. Pecans can double the cholesterol-lowering properties of any heart-healthy diet and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Consuming at least 1 ounce (28 grams) of nuts about 4 to 5 times a week can lower risk of coronary heart disease by 35 percent in women.

Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Pecans are rich in MUFA and fiber. Powered with antioxidants, pecans lower the risk of developing precancerous fibrocystic breast disease also called fibroadenomas. Along with walnuts and peanuts, pecans also exhibited anti-proliferative effect due to the ellagic acid it contains.

Pecans Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

Boost Energy

Pecans provide around 691 Kcal energy per 100gm. Pecan diet increases MUFA, PUFA, insoluble fiber, magnesium, copper, manganese, B complexes and energy. Those looking to gain weight may resort to liberal intake of pecans. Pecan-based snacks can be an ideal mid meal snack. It can be consumed directly or added to various dishes.

Antioxidant

The high bioavailability of polyphenols in nuts including pecans reduce plasma lipid peroxidation and increase plasma antioxidant capacity. Pecan is low in PUFA, which helps in improvement in oxidation status or increase in antioxidant enzyme activity. Pecan reduces oxidative stress that plays an important role in diseases like hypertension, coronary heart disease, inflammation, type 2 diabetes, cancer and endothelial dysfunction. Pecans are also rich in Vitamin E which adds to its antioxidant properties. Pecans have ellagic acid, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin that help to remove free radicals.

Lower the Risk of Stroke

Vitamin E is a scavenger of free radical. It helps prevent oxidation of LDL, which is a step in the atherosclerotic process. Studies have shown that diet rich in Vitamin E, lowers the risk of stroke deaths.

Pecans Prevents Stroke Risk

Help in Weight Loss

Compared with low-fat diet, moderate fat diet helps to decrease mean body weight, and waist circumference. Pecan is 70% fat food and has about 58% MUFA. Pecans like any other tree nut provides satiety, thereby making one consume fewer calories. Pecans can help balance calorie intake and calorie burn ratio.

Support Digestive Function

Pecans have about 9gm fiber per 100gm. Fiber cleanses the gastrointestinal function, prevents constipation, and facilitates smooth bowel function. Fiber intake reduces risk of colitis, colon cancer, piles and hemorrhoids. Pecans also boosts metabolism.

Bone and Teeth Health

Pecans are rich in phosphorus, which helps to promote bone and teeth health. Phosphorus plays an important role in the production of RNA & DNA. It helps in repair and growth of cells and tissues. Manganese helps to increase the mineral density of spinal bone and prevents osteoporosis. About 100gm pecans provide 4.5mg or 200% daily value of manganese.

Pecans Supports Bone & Teeth Health

Support the Nervous System

Manganese is vital for the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system throughout the body. Manganese protects the nerve cells from the damage by free-radicals. Manganese helps the body to form bones, connective tissue, sex hormones and blood clotting factors. Pecans are an excellent source of dietary manganese.

Skin And Hair Care

Intake of vitamin E promotes healthy skin and hair. Zinc and Vitamin A in pecan helps to make the skin spotless. The fat content of pecan makes the skin soft and supple from within, thereby reducing wrinkles, dullness and dryness. Pecans help to combat iron deficiency.

Pecans Promote Healthy Skin

Caveat

Pecans are rich in gamma-tocopherol Vitamin E which is associated to respiratory disorders and reduction in lung function. Some people might be allergic to pecans.

Recipe:


No Bake Apple & Pecan Energy Bites

Ingredients
  • Apple 1
  • Lemon juice 2-3 Tbsp
  • Oats cup
  • Dried coconut cup
  • Pecans cup
  • Almond butter cup
  • Honey 4 Tbsp
  • Vanilla extract 1 Tsp
  • Cinnamon powder 1Tsp
  • Pinch of Salt
Process:
  • In a bowl mix almond butter, honey and vanilla extract
  • Grate apple and add lemon juice to it.
  • In another bowl add oats, grated coconut, crushed pecans, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add grated apple and almond butter mixture to the oats and pecan bowl.
  • Mix well and roll in small balls or bars.
  • Serve as balls, bar or lollipops.
Pecan Energy Bites

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