Forget superfoods, the world’s most underrated super-nut boasts the ability to improve cognitive function, memory, energy synthesis, and protect against chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Think about the last time you ate a superfood, or something this inherently good for yourself; it was Thanksgiving! San Saba pecans not only taste good roasted, toasted, in pecan log rolls, or in pecan pie, but they actually pack the most nutrient-dense punch on their own.
The Healthiest Nut You Can Eat
Pecan nuts have a nutrition profile unparalleled by any other nut; the main tenets of pecans’ nutrition are fatty acids, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids are known as “the good fat”- that don’t make you fat. These healthy fats contain phytosterols, the plant version of cholesterol, that compete to mitigate the negative effects of dietary cholesterol and excess lipids in the body. The consumption of healthy fats from plant sources does not contribute to thickening of blood vessels, arterial lining, or the clotting of blood like their less healthy counterparts. Pecans are regarded as a “heart healthy” nut by the American Heart Association generally when raw, fresh, dry roasted, or toasted.
Fiber Fuel of Pecans
Fiber is not only good for digestion, but it is a key nutrient in weight management and the satisfying feeling of being full. Fiber is a vehicle in our bodies that picks up foreign toxins and the harmful LDL cholesterol wandering around. Pecans contain soluble fiber, meaning the fiber doesn’t just run its course without being digested. Soluble fibers dissolve with water and expand in the gut to make you feel fuller for longer with less calories. Your gut is also able to feed off this fiber, which makes it a prebiotic!
Thiamin, Manganese, and Copper are found in abundance in Texas pecans along with countless other vitamins and minerals. You want these nutrients if you prioritize having higher energy levels, increasing bone density, reducing inflammation, enhancing immune function, and balancing your blood sugar. There is a specific polyphenol found in pecans called epigallocatechin-3-gallate that contains the same restorative antioxidants as those found in green tea. Wouldn’t you rather chew your vitamins rather than choke them down?
You Pe-CAN Do It
Implementing nutritious pecans into your diet on a daily basis is tasty and feasible for nearly all lifestyles in coordination with a balanced diet. Starting with the basics, the nutrition content for 1 serving of pecans is:
- 20 halves, ¼ cup, or 28 grams
- Only 196 calories
- 20 grams of fat; 12g monounsaturated & 6g polyunsaturated
- 11% daily value of fiber
A calorie isn’t just a calorie, and pecans are the perfect example of this. Nutrients, a renowned peer-reviewed scientific journal conducted a study comparing two groups consuming similar diets with equal macronutrient distribution. The treatment group received 1 ½ ounces of fresh pecans as part of their daily allotment over the course of three months. This daily serving of pecans was shown to:
- Decrease insulin resistance Insulin resistance is a marker for Type 2 Diabetes in adults. Pecans are able to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream after consumption because of the slow-digesting fats and fiber.
- Reduce central adiposity Central adiposity is the amount of fat surrounding an individual’s abdominal region. This fat is visceral, meaning it surrounds the organs and does not just exist freely under the skin.
- Lessen the risk of metabolic syndrome Metabolic syndrome is a compilation of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Emerging research is currently examining long-term effects of pecan consumption especially on neurological function and chronic disease prevention.
Health and nutrition will never be all-or-nothing, which is why it’s so important to find a sustainable way to incorporate pecans into your health journey. Aim to choose fresh pecans, dry roasted unsalted pecans, toasted unsalted pecans, in shell pecans, and wholesale pecans. As long as they are unsweetened and unsalted, this super-nut becomes incredibly diverse! Try to enjoy them as a crunchy salad topping, an on-the-go snack, a topping to a Greek yogurt parfait, an ingredient to a healthy pie crust, or as a coating for fish or chicken. No matter how you chop it, these nuts can help you become a more super-you.