Pecan oil is the liquidized fat that is pressed out of the pecan nut after it is lightly heated to retain a mildly nutty flavor. A handful of pecans will contain 18 grams of fat, this handful is taken and pressed so the fat is all that is extracted. The pulp leftover from the pecan contains the carbs and proteins that makeup the physical structure of the pecan nut.
What is Pecan Oil?
Cooking oils you might be more familiar with are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, and butter. Yes, butter is a cooking oil. Plant-based non-saturated oils are going to be liquid at room temperature while butter and coconut oil are solids due to the saturated fat content. Pecan oil is a light yellow, yet translucent color that preserves all of the healthful nutrients present in the nut. Don’t let the faint color fool you, as it only implicates that the flavor will be less forceful than an olive or coconut oil. While they are the most popularly used cooking oils along with butter, their nutritional profiles, flavors, and smoke points don’t make them the best.
Nutrition Content of Pecan Oil
1 tbsp of pecan oil contains 130 calories and 14 grams of fat.
1 tbsp of olive oil contains 120 calories and 12 grams of fat.
1tbsp of butter contains 102 calories and 12 grams of fat.
Let’s break those fats down even further.
- Of the 14 grams of fat in a tablespoon of pecan oil,1.5 grams are saturated, 8 grams are monounsaturated, and 4.5 grams are polyunsaturated.
- Of the 12 grams of fat in a tablespoon of olive oil, 2 grams are saturated, 9 grams are monounsaturated, and only 1 gram is polyunsaturated.
- Of the 12 grams of fat in a tablespoon of butter, 7 grams are saturated, 4 grams are monounsaturated, and 1 gram is polyunsaturated.
In addition to having lower percentages of saturated fat and the highest concentration of UNsaturated fats, pecan oil contributes phytosterols, tocopherol antioxidants, and oxidative stability. Compared to other tree nuts, the amount of phytosterols in pecan oil are much higher than the average and unrivaled by almond, peanut, and walnut oil.
Phytosterols, in unsaturated fats, act similarly to cholesterol in the body, meaning they are fat-transporting vehicles to reduce the amount of fats in the bloodstream that would lead to cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and myocardial infarctions, not to mention heart failure. Chole- specifies the bile or gall ducts, while phyto- means of or relating to plants. Regular consumption of phytosterols is shown to lower the bad, low-density (LDL) cholesterol in your body while making room for the good, high-density (HDL) cholesterol.
Tocopherol is a form of Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin commonly found in plant-based oils that attack cancer-causing free radicals. These defense mechanisms only remain active when undamaged, or stable from oxidation.
What Does Pecan Oil Taste Like?
Pure Texas pecan oil has a subdued, luxuriously nutty taste; if butter screams and olive oil talks, pecan oil has more of a whisper. This makes pecan oil a great replacement for other cooking oils when you do not want to impart an exaggerated, specific flavor. It is a heart healthy oil that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It could be drizzled over a plank of salmon, mixed into a homemade dressing, or used to roast vegetables!
Cooking Oil Smoke Points
As healthy as pecan oil is, its benefits may be damaged if it reaches the smoke point. The term “smoke point” is the temperature at which the oil will burn and oxidation occurs. If you think of antioxidants, burnt oil would contain oxidants. Pecan oil has the highest smoke point of its competitors, olive oil and butter, at 470 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes pecan oil suitable for consuming raw, baked, sautéed, and roasted.
Pecan oil has proven itself to be a well-rounded, diverse oil with its impact on heart health, ability to blend into different flavor profiles, and even maintaining its benefits at a fairly high temperature. Like other oils, be sure to store it in a cool, dry place, and you might even refrigerate it after opening to keep it fresh as long as you need!