7 Reasons to Go Nuts Over Pecans
Are pecans healthy? The bottom line is YES. Pecans are incredibly nutrient-dense, full of flavor, and loaded with health benefits. They are a good source of plant-based protein, rich in healthy fats, anti-inflammatory, and good for weight loss; reduce the risk of certain diseases; contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals; and so much more! This sweet nut is super satisfying and versatile, making it the perfect addition to your diet.
What Are Pecans?
Pecans are a greatly underappreciated (and oftentimes forgotten) nut. They are the only edible tree nut native to North America and are grown primarily in the southern United States. The top pecan producing states are Georgia, Texas, and New Mexico! Did you know that San Saba, Texas, where our family lives, is known as the Pecan Capital of the World?
What Is a Serving Size of Pecans?
Because they are calorie-dense, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to nuts. One serving size of pecans is one ounce or 19 halves, which provides approximately 200 calories. Be sure to eat pecan nuts in moderation - there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We recommend one serving (about a handful) per day.
Why Are Pecans Healthy? - Nutrition Facts
Let’s take a closer look at the nutrient profile of pecans and find out exactly what makes pecans so good for you.
One ounce of pecans (19 halves) contains approximately:
3 g Protein
20 g Fat
2 g Saturated Fat
6 g Polyunsaturated Fat
12 g Monounsaturated Fat
4 g Carbohydrates (1% DV)
3 g Fiber (12 % DV)
1.3 mg Manganese (60% DV)
0.3 mg Copper (15% DV)
0.2 mg Thiamin (10% DV)
1.3 mg Zinc (8% DV)
78.5 mg Phosphorus (8% DV)
34.2 mg Magnesium (8% DV)
0.7 mg Iron (4% DV)
116 mg Potassium (3% DV)
Pecans also contain vitamin A, K, B6, and E as well as calcium, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and selenium. *DV is the percent daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet
7 Reasons to Include Pecans as a Part of a Healthy Diet
1. Pecans are packed with phytonutrients
Pecan nuts are abundant in flavonoids, a potent phytonutrient. Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. They work by interacting with our genes and fighting free radicals to protect against cancer as well as heart and neurological diseases. Pecans also contain zinc and tocopherols (a form of Vitamin E), which are also antioxidants. So, it’s no surprise that pecans contain more antioxidants than any other nut!
2. Pecans are rich in healthy fats (monounsaturated fats & omega-3’s)
Pecans are loaded with fats, but don’t fret - it’s the good kind! Pecan nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats including oleic acid. Monounsaturated fats help in lowering LDL or “bad cholesterol” and oleic acid is suggested to reduce inflammation and the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Also, pecans contain omega-3 fatty acids that aid in maintaining good heart health.
3. Pecans are a good plant-based protein source
Just one serving of pecans contains 3 grams of protein, no sodium or cholesterol, and is very low in carbohydrates. Pecans make the perfect snack for adults and kids alike and can be added to many dishes for a burst of flavor and a boosted nutrient profile.
4. Pecans may protect against heart disease and type II diabetes
According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, studies have shown that those who include pecans in moderation in their diets have lowered blood cholesterol and improved insulin sensitivity in adults who are overweight or obese. This protective effect is likely due to the heart-healthy fats and fiber present in pecans in addition to the lack of cholesterol and trans-fat.
5. Pecans promote bone health
Did you know pecans are one of the richest sources of manganese at 1.3 mg per serving? Manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc (all abundant in pecans) are crucial minerals for bone health. In addition to playing a role in bone health, manganese makes up superoxide dismutase (an antioxidant enzyme) and plays a role in metabolism.
6. Pecans are high in fiber and promote digestive health
Just one serving of pecans has 3 grams of fiber. That’s about 12% of the daily value! Fiber is essential for weight maintenance, digestive health, and management of cholesterol and blood sugar. Foods high in fiber, such as pecans, will keep you feeling fuller longer and reduce spikes in blood sugar. Fiber also feeds good bacteria in the gut and facilitates regular bowel movements. Note that daily fiber recommendations for adult men and women are 38 grams and 25 grams respectively.
7. Pecans may aid with weight loss and maintenance
How are pecans healthy in regards to weight loss? Nuts are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats - making pecans an ideal food for weight loss and maintenance! In addition, pecans contain B vitamins (pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, biotin, and niacin) which play essential roles in energy metabolism. This healthy fat and calorie-dense nut will keep you satisfied while also helping to regulate your metabolism.
Are you craving pecans yet? Not only are they delicious delicacies, but pecans are by far one of the healthiest nuts out there. If you aren’t already eating them regularly, these 7 reasons will have you going nuts over pecans!