The Health Nut: Pecans
The Health Benefits of Pecans
So you love pecans because they taste great, but did you know that pecans are so much more than a tasty snack? Praised for their health benefits, pecans are packed with nutrients and fiber that can help with all manner of things from cardiovascular to skin health.
A one-ounce serving of pecans (approximately 20 halves) contains 196 calories, 20.4 grams total fat (1.8 saturated fat), 0 milligrams cholesterol, 0 grams sodium, 2.7 grams dietary fiber and over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and zinc. Pecans are also shown to have anti-cancer properties with phytochemicals that protect the body from diseases, cancer and infections. Check out some of the other health benefits a handful of pecans a day can do!
Cardiovascular & Digestive health
Pecans are magnesium and manganese rich, making them a good source of anti inflammatory elements. Magnesium is known for its anti inflammatory benefits reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other inflammatory ailments. Studies proved that 100 milligrams of magnesium per day can reduce the risk of stroke by nine percent. Manganese also boosts the immune system, protects cells from free-radical damage and supports brain function. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, decreasing stroke risk, and hypertension.
The monounsaturated fats and oleic acid in pecans help to reduce the risk of heart disease. According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, adding a handful of pecan nuts in your diet helps decrease LDL i.e. ‘bad cholesterol’ and increase HDL i.e. ‘good cholesterol’, which in turn prevent stroke and coronary artery disease. They are sodium free, making them a perfect snack for anyone watching sodium intake for cardiovascular reasons.
Anti-aging and Skin Benefits
There are more than 19 vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in pecans including ellagic acid, vitamins A, B, E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut and rank among the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants fight and eliminate free radicals aiding in anti-aging and benefitting hair and skin health.
Nearly 60 percent of the fats in pecans are monounsaturated and another 30 percent are polyunsaturated, meaning very little is saturated fat and no transfat. The unsaturated fat in pecans is heart-healthy fat meeting the new Dietary Guidelines recommending Americans keep intake between 20 and 35 percent of calories with fats coming from heart-healthy sources like fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
10 percent of your daily reccommended fiber intake can be found in a one-ounce (about a shot glass sized) handful of pecans. Fiber helps you feel full longer while increasing metabolism, which helps in losing weight. Pecans are also rich sources of several important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates which together help increase the rate of metabolism.
So get cracking on those nuts and get healthy!