Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., yet the disease is mainly preventable through a healthy lifestyle. Many studies have shown that diets containing nuts may improve heart health and help protect us from cardiovascular disease. Pecans have even been designated as a heart-healthy food by the American Heart Association and are included in the DASH diet which aims to lower blood pressure.
How do pecans support heart health?
1. Pecans contain a high amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats,
Pecans which have “healthy” fats because of their role in driving down cholesterol in your bloodstream. Specifically, intake of these fats lowers the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). This is the type of cholesterol most associated with building up plaque in our arteries that contributes to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Pecans have higher amounts of these health fats than many other nuts. The polyunsaturated omega-3 fats in pecans may also reduce irregular heartbeats and lower chances of blood clots.
2. Out of all nuts, pecans are a particularly good source of dietary fiber.
Pecans contain soluble fiber, which cannot be digested and turns into a gel-like substance in our digestive tract. This gel can reduce absorption of dietary fats, therefore lowering cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also helps us control our blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure, and slows the rate that our stomach empties to make us feel full for longer. All these benefits promote healthy hearts. Pecans have around 3 grams of fiber per 1 ounce of nuts. It is recommended that people consume between 25-35 grams of fiber a day, therefore you can meet half your daily fiber recommendation with just half a cup of pecans!
3. Pecans increase Vitamin E in the Body
Research has found that eating pecans drastically increases levels of vitamin E in the body. Specifically, pecans are high in a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol. One study found that levels of gamma-tocopherols doubled after eating pecans and levels of LDL cholesterol lowered by 33 percent! Vitamin E is an antioxidant which help fight systematic inflammation in our body, helping protect us from many disease states like heart disease and cancer.
Heart disease is diagnosed most frequently among middle-age and elderly populations, but dietary patterns throughout your life impact heart health and disease risk. Therefore, it is never to early (or too late) to incorporate more heart healthy foods into your diet. For those who are at risk or already have heart disease, try adding unsalted pecans to your diet as a low sodium option to boost salads, granola, or snack mixes.
February is American Heart Month, so show your heart some love by snacking on some pecans!
Buy pecans for sale
1. Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6879
2. Nuts for the Heart by Harvard School of Public Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nuts-for-the-heart/
3. Antioxidants in pecans may contribute to heart health and disease prevention by Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110224145607.htm