Pecans are a tasty way to lower cholesterol
Eating pecans is a tasty way to lower your cholesterol levels. While our body needs cholesterol to make certain hormones and aid digestion, too much circulating cholesterol can have negative impacts. High cholesterol levels put individuals at higher risk for hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Thankfully, a balanced diet can help us control cholesterol levels and certain foods, like pecans, reduce cholesterol levels.
The two main ways pecans help regulate cholesterol levels is through healthy fats and fiber.
Healthy Unsaturated Fats
Pecans act to reduce cholesterol through the nut’s high amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats have been termed “healthy” fats because they play a role in driving down the level of cholesterol in your bloodstream. In contrast, saturated fats like those found in meats, butter, and cheese can increase cholesterol levels.
Specifically, intake of unsaturated fats reduces levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which at high levels can adhere to the walls of our arteries causes dangerous narrowing of the blood vessel. A result of this can be heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Compared to most nuts, pecans have higher amounts of unsaturated fats which make them particularly good at lowering cholesterol!
Fiber From Pecans
Pecans are also a very good source of dietary fiber. There are two types of dietary fiber that help lower cholesterol, insoluble and soluble fiber. Pecans contain soluble fiber, which absorbs water in the digestive track to form a gel-like substance. This substance can bind fat from other foods we eat, reducing the amount our body absorbs to form cholesterol.
Soluble fiber also slows digestion, making us feel full for longer. This could reduce how much food we eat overall, promoting healthy weight loss. This may benefit cholesterol levels because being overweight or obese is associated with higher cholesterol levels. Weight loss can drive down levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and promote the beneficial high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Americans, on average, only eat half the recommended daily 25-35 grams of fiber. That means there is a lot of untapped potential to better your health by adding fiber-rich foods to your diet. Pecans have around 3 grams of fiber per 1 ounce of nuts, therefore you can make up for that other half of your daily recommendation by eating just half a cup of pecans!
It is important to remember that food cannot fix everything. Genetics, age, and gender can influence risk for high cholesterol and sometimes diet is not enough to bring levels down alone. That being said, consuming foods with healthy fats and fiber can help people prevent or treat high cholesterol. Try adding pecans to salads or granola to get even more fiber!
Interested in the other ways pecans promote health? Check out our other nutrition blog posts to learn how pecans can help with diabetes and cancer.