Whether you’re a full-fledged pecan addict or a part-time pecan aficionado, you might be surprised to find out that fabulous flavor isn’t all that these nuts have to offer. That must be why pecans and pecan pieces are used in all of those sinfully sweet recipes. They help to pack a little healthiness inside. After all, something that good has to be good for you in some way, right? But HOW good is it? Well, keep reading and you’ll find out exactly why pecans have continued to grow in popularity worldwide.
Pecans Pack Quite a Nutrient-rich Punch!
The pecan, at a glance, does not really appear to fit what most people believe to be the description of a “healthy” food option. It has ridges, is fairly uniform in its light to dark brown color and is on the dry side when compared to other nutrient-rich, natural foods. In other words, it is not the leafy green, juicy fruit or vegetable that we all expect to see when we think of a superfood.
Still, the pecan provides quite an amazing array of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins include: B6 and B12, vitamins A, C, E, K, Betaine, Choline, Folate Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin and Thiamin. These vitamins help to regulate blood sugar, fight disease, oxygenate the body, act as antioxidants to fight the free radicals that damage our skin, boost our immune system, aid in blood flow, are involved in blood clotting, bone health, growth, development, energy and so much more!
The minerals include Calcium, Copper, Fluoride, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc. These minerals help the strength and structure of bones and teeth, aid in muscle movement, maintain health and assist the metabolism. They also help regulate hormones, blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rhythm.
A single cup of pecan pieces can provide an adult with 20% of the daily recommendation of protein and more than 10% of the daily recommendation of fiber! On top of that, pecans also contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which assist in regulating our blood pressure and inflammatory response, and protecting against heart disease.
Are Pecans Really that Popular Worldwide?
Absolutely! It took a little bit of time for worldwide notoriety to come, but pecans have actually become VERY popular worldwide. In fact, the largest export markets are the European Union, Mexico and Hong Kong. This is also why the price has risen considerably over the past two decades. In 2005, China imported roughly 2.9 million pounds of pecans. In 2009, that number had grown to 80 million pounds and that’s pretty much where it has hovered ever since, with a few years being higher and lower.
The world’s penchant for pecans will likely only continue to grow. That is especially true with some of the great recipes that have been created – and more are yet to come!
What Types of Non-dessert Dishes Can You Make with Pecans?
The versatile pecan wasn’t really all that versatile at first. At least it doesn’t seem that way in decades-old cookbooks. Nope. The pecan was most commonly used in desserts – and that is still where it is king. However, aside from the mouthwatering visual that you may have of vanilla ice cream-topped pecan pie, gooey chocolate and caramel covered pecans, pecan pralines, or caramel apples rolled in pecan pieces, there are actually many wonderful non-dessert recipes that pecans are used in.
There are countless recipes that include pecans, and these recipes are not limited to food. In fact, several drink recipes now exist that include pecan pie flavored vodka. The glasses are often garnished with crushed pecans, similar to salt on a margarita. Of course, some prefer to infuse their own alcohol at home with roasted pecans, and that may be even better since you know exactly what you’re getting.
Other types of non-dessert pecan recipes include everything from simple recipes such as trail mix and salads, to more complex dishes like Pecan & Mushroom Burgers or Pecan-Crusted Turkey Tenderloin. There are so many different, delicious looking options to choose from that it’s hard to know exactly where to start the journey.
Which pecan recipe would you pick first?