Pecans: A Nutritional Guide

Pecans: A Nutritional Guide

Pecan Nutrition

When it comes to overall health, one major category should always be at the forefront, nutrition. Having a well-balanced diet is an integral stepping stone in leading a long, healthy life. This means consuming enough water along with natural carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. 

 

However, with a demanding lifestyle, getting sufficient nutrition can be challenging. One of the best ways to maintain your energy levels, satisfy your appetite, and contribute to your overall health is by incorporating more nutritious snacks such as nuts

 

Studies have shown that nuts like pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts, have long-lasting benefits for one’s cardiovascular system, digestive tract, and immune system. That’s not all. For example, let’s take a deeper dive into pecan nutrition. The pecan nut contains over nineteen vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of natural fats, proteins, and fiber. The list of positive gains from eating pecans is enough to get anyone interested in a daily handful of these tasty morsels. 

 

For a comprehensive guide to understanding the health benefits of pecans, let’s examine the finer details of these savory tree nuts. 

 

Cardiovascular Health

 

According to the World Health Organization, one of the leading causes of premature death in the world is ischaemic heart disease. The blood flow and oxygen to the heart are constricted. Over time, if the blood and oxygen levels remain low and restricted, this could lead to developing coronary artery or coronary heart disease. 

 

Fortunately, there are steps one can take to lower the chances and possibly prevent or reverse damage to the heart. Regularly eating nuts, like pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and almonds will go a long way to improving cardiovascular performance. This is because these nuts are rich in certain nutrients and minerals like Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Once the heart can pump blood and oxygen at healthy levels you will notice better physical recovery times and an energy level boost.  

 

Fatty Acids 

 

The body needs fatty acids, but it is necessary to remember two health facts; moderation is key and not all fatty acids are created equal. There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). The body uses these nutrients for energy and ALA happens to be the most common one. Omega-3’s are needed to maintain healthy cell membranes throughout the body. Omega-3’s, such as ALA cannot be produced by the body, therefore one’s diet should include decent amounts of it. 



 

 

Preventative Measures

 

Pecans also contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are often referred to as heart-healthy fatty acids. These fatty acids are linked to lowering cholesterol levels. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) known as the bad cholesterol, and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) known as the good cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can build-up along the arterial walls in and around the heart. This can cause serious health problems with high-risk cases leading to fatal heart attacks or strokes.  

 

HDL works to remove excess cholesterol by lowering the LDL levels in the arteries. Consuming sufficient amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular and coronary diseases. Pecans are an excellent source of these heart-healthy fatty acids that work to lower cholesterol levels. 

 

Lowers Risk of Cancer

 

There is a link between incorporating healthy foods regularly and lowering your risk of diseases including cancer. Due to the high amounts of antioxidants, fiber, and folates available in pecans, toxins from the body are removed much easier. For example, pecans contain ellagic acid which is a powerful antioxidant. Ellagic acid works to prevent free radicals from causing damage to the body’s cells and also stops them from multiplying in the body. Cancerous cells tend to proliferate if left unchecked. A high value of antioxidants in one’s diet can prevent the further proliferation of these cell-damaging molecules. 



Gut Regulation

 

Nuts, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and select fruits are great sources of fiber. As a plant-based nutrient, fiber is often referred to as roughage and many adults tend to need more of it. If you want to regulate your gut, keep your intestinal tract clear, and promote healthy living consider the positive effects of eating pecan nuts, beans, salads, and fruit. 

 

Fiber

 

Fiber is the number one nutrient to maintain healthy, regular digestion which is vital in preventing diseases. It is a plant-based food that comes in two main categories, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber changes into a gel-like substance as it moves through the digestive tract. This is because it collects water as it passes, a process that helps slow digestion. Soluble fiber also helps decrease cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber tends to help other foods digest more quickly, a process that helps thoroughly clear-out the digestive tract. 

 

Metabolism and Weight Loss 

 

Not only is fiber essential to gut regulation, but it is also recommended to help boost one’s metabolism and increase your chances of weight loss. One of the stepping stones in any weight loss plan is finding out which foods will keep you feeling fuller longer. Instead of reaching for that bag of chips, have a handful of pecans. Instead of donuts for breakfast, perhaps try some yogurt with crushed pecan toppings or some oatmeal. 

 

The “this or that” approach for your meal plans can be difficult to navigate when you are not sure what to choose. Just remember, highly processed or artificially flavored foods do not tend to offer sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, or nutrients. They are also known for slowing down one’s metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Including more roughage like pecans, the lowest carb nut, in your daily meals is a natural and healthy way to improve your metabolism and keep the weight off. 

 

Diabetes

 

A nutrition plan that offers a balance of “good fats,” proteins, and fiber is recommended for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is important to keep the glucose (sugar) levels balanced. This means eating foods that are high in fat and protein, two nutrients that help level out the carbohydrates. This helps prevent the dreadful sugar rush and that eventual crash about twenty minutes later. An increase in fiber, proteins, and fats will keep you feeling full between meals. This combination will also help regulate the body’s ability to process sugar levels safely. 

 

Fiber helps to slow the body’s ability to absorb sugars which leads to improved blood sugar levels. Just one cup of pecan nuts provides roughly ten grams of dietary fiber. The recommended daily intake of fiber is around 25 to 30 grams a day. 

 

Removal of Toxins

 

Superb gut health has a lot to do with the regular removal of toxins from the body. The liver is the second largest organ in the body after the skin. Anything we consume will make its way to our liver, where it is broken down and converted. The liver works to store, process, remove or recirculate certain substances in the body. Pecans offer vitamins A, E, iron, and copper which are all stored in the liver. These nutrients are vital for the body to function properly. An excess of glucose will have negative effects on the liver. Too many sugary foods, including alcoholic beverages, could lead to liver diseases and possibly open the door for Type 2 diabetes. Pecan nutrients help promote healthy liver function due to the abundance of vitamins and minerals they contain.   



Strengthened Immunity

 

The immune system is integral to every other system in the body. It protects the organs, bloodstream, and bones. Lacking a strengthened immune system could lead to frequent illnesses. Contrary to popular belief, building a strong immune system has less to do with eating daily vitamin supplements and more to do with including nourishing, natural foods in your diet. 

 

Antioxidants to the rescue! 

 

One factor in preventing a weakened immune system is tossing a healthy dose of antioxidants into every meal you can. Nuts, fruits, and vegetables are primary sources of antioxidants. Pecans, blueberries, red cabbage, and dark chocolate offer a treasure trove of antioxidants. Dark chocolate-covered pecans are the perfect choice for your trail mix! It offers a distinct blend of that sweet, soft crunch with an antioxidant punch. 

 

Antioxidants are integral to preventing free radicals from causing oxidative stress on the body. Unfortunately, the body produces these unstable molecules (free radicals) when food is broken down and digested. They are also produced when the body is exposed to environmental health risks. To combat these free radicals, powerful antioxidants eaten regularly are highly recommended. 

 

The pecan nut is one of the top nuts that are a rich source of antioxidants. It contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that reduces or prevents cellular damage (oxidative stress). Vitamin E in pecans comes in two forms; alpha-tocopherol (more common) and gamma-tocopherol (less common). In addition to fighting off free radicals, it is also needed for the body’s organs to function properly. 

 

Anti-inflammatory

 

Inflammation, whether from a chronic disease or external stressors, is difficult to treat without well-rounded nutrition. Just one cup of pecan nuts offers ten percent of your daily value of magnesium. Magnesium is known to reduce inflammation. A lack of sufficient magnesium could lead to chronic muscle weakness, cramps, numbness, and fatigue. 

 

Pecans offer an abundance of anti-inflammatories such as potassium, manganese, B-vitamins, and vitamins E, A, and C. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps flush out the kidneys, metabolize carbohydrates, regulate the heartbeat, and maintain proper functioning of the muscles and nerves. Just one cup of pecans has roughly eleven percent of the daily value of potassium. 

 

The body needs manganese to create connective tissues, metabolize fats and carbs, and absorb calcium. One serving of pecans, about 19 pecan halves, contains around sixty percent of the daily value of manganese. Inflammation can cause a variety of issues from chronic migraines and arthritis to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and cardiovascular conditions. Other foods that are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories include walnuts, almonds, strawberries, oranges, spinach, and kale. 



A Youthful Glow

 

Remember all the stories you heard about the fountain of youth? As if, by some mystical origin, a water fountain actually existed somewhere that could prolong your youth. Well, more studies have shown that youthful glow has everything to do with diet, lifestyle, and family history. Fortunately, out of those three categories, two of them can be controlled, what you eat and how you live. 

 

To make a significant impact on your youthful appearance, pay closer attention to the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Maintaining a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle are great ways to age gracefully. 

 

Hair, Skin, and Nails

 

What you eat can dictate how thick, smooth, or shiny your hair is. Did you know a lack of protein can lead to hair loss? Thinning hair or going bald is related to genetics, however, that is not the sole factor. Having an insufficient diet can lead to brittle hair and impact the ph balance of the scalp. If the scalp is not as healthy as it should be, new growth will be more labored. This could impact your hairline, the volume, and the durability of each strand. Who would want easily breakable hair? 

 

As with the hair, your skin and nails sometimes provide hints at how your diet is doing. Having clear, soft skin and strong nails is not all about finding the right lotion or getting a manicure. In fact, the elasticity of the skin is highly dependent on proper hydration, nutrition, and protection. Skin is the first natural barrier we have against external dangers. It shields us from the harmful UV rays of the sun, dangerous microbes, and wind or cold exposure. Zinc along with vitamins A and E is a potent healing mix of nutrients. They can be found in pecans and these nutrients are linked to having a healthy skin complexion.

 

Our nails function as support for our fingers and toes. They help protect the toes and fingers from injury while making it easier to pick-up material objects. Having tough nails is especially convenient for people who work with their hands, such as chefs, farmers, and artists. Strong, durable nails that do not easily break or bend means you are on the right track with your nutrition. 

 

A basic component of hair, skin, and nails is keratin, a protein. Pecans are a great source of proteins that promote and support healthy cell growth. There are a variety of nutrients found in pecans that are known to provide hair and dermal benefits. This includes polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E, selenium, iron, and biotin. 

 

Polyunsaturated fats, other Omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants all help nourish the hair from within. They help add density, durability, and shine to the hair while promoting a healthy scalp. Vitamin E is vital to the skin as it protects and reduces damage caused by UV radiation. Selenium promotes skin healing and provides nourishment to the hair. A lack of iron could lead to thinning hair. Fortunately, just one cup of pecans contains approximately thirteen percent of your daily value of iron. 

 

Strong Bones

 

Pecans are a healthy snack alternative when you run out of your favorite protein bars. As a great source of good fats, they are also naturally cholesterol- and sodium-free. Pecans will also keep you feeling fuller longer due to the high value of healthy fats and proteins. Did you know, consuming enough protein is also vital to bone health? 

 

Protein and calcium are essential to maintain durable, strong bones. As we age our bones tend to need a boost in both categories. Bones are made up of minerals, water, and protein. Roughly a quarter of bone density is proteins. Pecans happen to be a decent source of protein and calcium. About 100 g or one cup of pecans provides around 9 g of protein which is eighteen percent of your daily value. The same cup also has around 70 mg or six percent of your daily value of calcium. Anytime the bones suffer a fracture or other damage, it requires sufficient doses of both these nutrients to rebuild and heal. 



Energy Input and Output

 

High energy levels are often attributed to the youth. However, there is a direct correlation between what you eat and how lackadaisical you might feel. Fatigue and that inevitable 2 p.m. low-energy adults tend to suffer from is not uncommon. Reaching for that next cup of coffee or afternoon caffeine pick-me-up is not exactly the healthiest option. On the other hand, simply trying to keep up with the regular day-to-day tasks can become exhaustive. Your body and your brain need a reliable source of fuel to meet the high-energy demands of daily life. 

 

Helpful Carbohydrates

 

Pecans are high in natural protein, fiber, and fats. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to healthy cell membranes and are integral to proper brain and eye function. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, a nutrient the body needs to turn into energy. Carbohydrates come in several forms, sugars or glucose, starches, and fiber. Pecans are low in net carbohydrates like sugars but are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber and healthy fats are also vital in regulating the body’s glucose levels.

 

Protein

 

Protein plays a role in fueling your body, the brain, and is critical in carrying oxygen through the bloodstream and throughout the body. Protein is also essential for the body’s muscles and can be used for energy when the body needs it. Keeping your energy levels up in a healthy way will have far-reaching positive effects on your daily routine. Not only will you feel more energized, but you will also be keeping your appetite properly satisfied between meals. At this point, who would not want a handful of deliciously seasoned, toasted pecans to combat that awful afternoon fatigue? 



Brain Function

 

Nuts and brain function are two terms not often seen together, but that is slowly changing. The brain is one of the most vital organs in the body, and although it does not contract or relax as a muscle does, it still needs just as much attention. 

 

Complex B-Vitamins

 

When it comes to supporting brain development, improving memory, and one’s overall health, there are three recommended vitamins to include in your diet. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 all play a role in keeping us energized while promoting new brain cell development. Pecans happen to be a good source of vitamin B6 and folates. Other complex B-vitamins found in the pecan nut are thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5). All complex B-vitamins help the body produce energy by converting carbohydrates into glucose. 

 

There is around ten percent of your daily value of vitamin B6 in just one cup of pecans. The body needs vitamin B6 to regulate energy within the brain and it is vital to creating neurotransmitters. These transmitters are known as chemical messengers which are integral to cognitive development and memory. Folates, which are also referred to as different types of vitamin B9, are a nutrient necessary for detoxifying cells and also helps in the creation of neurotransmitters. One cup of pecans provides about six percent of your daily value of folates. 

 

In just one serving of pecans, about 19 pecans halves, there is roughly fifteen percent of your daily value of thiamine. One cup (99 g) of pecans offers ten percent of your daily value of riboflavin, seven percent of your daily value of niacin, and seventeen percent of your daily value of pantothenic acid. Niacin has been linked to boosting brain function while copper and thiamine help reduce radical damage to the brain. Copper is an essential mineral that is also vital for metabolism and bone health. 

 

Balanced Glucose Levels

 

Glucose provides energy for the body, including the brain’s ability to function. However, excessive amounts of glucose (sugar) build-up in your body has certain health-risks. Not only can it cause inflammatory damage, but high-levels of glucose can also cause diabetes, high blood pressure as well as cardiovascular or liver disease. It has also been linked to cognitive decline. Too much glucose in your system can impact memory and attention span. Incorporating complex-B vitamins in your diet can lead to improved brain function and increased performance. 

 

Pecans provide various amounts of complex-B vitamins as well as excellent amounts of fiber. Fiber helps slow the body’s absorption of sugar, thus ensuring lower levels of glucose entering the bloodstream. Pecans are also low in carbohydrates, with one serving containing around 1 g of total sugars and 3 g of dietary fiber.

 

It is not recommended that you completely omit glucose from your diet, as that can also be detrimental to cognitive function. Finding a happy balance is the key to supporting one’s total brain health. Nutrition plans that include carbohydrates without added sugars are preferred over any other choices. Since carbohydrates are made up of natural starches, sugars, and fiber, it is important to keep an eye on how much of them you consume. 



Pecans Are Delicious And Nutritious

 

The wholesome pecan offers a smooth crunch and a slightly buttery taste that adults and kids alike can enjoy. They are the perfect choice for a between-meal snack and are an excellent addition to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu. Who would have thought something this satisfying could contain all these health benefits? As more studies are conducted on pecan nutrition, it is no wonder pecans have become part of the top ten favorite nuts in the world. 

 

Trying to find pecan sales that will meet your daily needs does get challenging when you are not sure where to look. Fortunately, access to bulk pecans, cracked pecans, butter pecans, pecan treats, and pecan baked goods is easier than you might think. Click here for everything you need to know about pecans and where to find pecans on sale.