Pecan-rich Diet Can Significantly Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

by Sushma Rao on Mar 24 2018 11:51 AM

Pecan-rich Diet Can Significantly Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
Eating a handful of pecans everyday can protect overweight and obese adults at risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Study researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, found that incorporating pecans in the diet had significantly improved insulin sensitivity and had an effect on markers of cardiometabolic disease. This study was published in Nutrients.
While a growing body of evidence has linked tree nuts such as pecans to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), this is the first study to look at the effects of pecan consumption on factors other than blood lipid levels and specifically those related to type 2 diabetes (T2D). Obesity is a risk factor for T2D, and both obesity and T2D increase CVD risk.

"Pecans are naturally high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, so replacing a portion of the saturated fat in the diet with these healthier fats can explain some of the cardio-protective effects we observed," said lead researcher, Diane McKay, Ph.D. "But pecans also contain a number of bioactive plant compounds as well as vitamins and essential minerals that all likely contributed to this benefit. What's really interesting is that just one small change - eating a handful of pecans daily - may have a large impact on the health of these at-risk adults."

In this placebo-controlled crossover study of 26 men and women (average age 59 years), all meals were provided to carefully control their food intake. For four weeks at a time, subjects ate either a control diet with no nuts or the same diet with pecans substituted for 15 percent of the total calories. Both the control diet and the pecan-rich diet were low in fruits, vegetables and fiber. Calorie levels, as well as protein, carbohydrate, and total fat, were kept the same.