Health Benefits of Pecan Nuts
The Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a very large tree of the hickory family, native to the southern and central parts of the United States. Pecan trees are famous for their delicious nuts, which are buttery in consistency and rich-flavored. A favorite food of the native American tribes, pecans quickly became a favorite of European settlers as well, and they remain extremely popular today. They are probably best known as the main ingredient in the beloved Thanksgiving favorite – pecan pie – but are commonly used in candies and confections, salads, soups, stuffing, and much more. They can also be eaten raw, and are available in the markets in many forms, including salted, sweetened, shelled and unshelled, throughout the year
In addition to their delicious flavor, pecans offer many impressive health benefits. They contain 19 different vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin E, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc, and they are high in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and several types of heart healthy fats. Eating four to five servings of pecans per week can reduce your chances of many health problems.
Here is more information on the health benefits of pecans:
- Pecans help reduce weight: Pecans are a good choice for people hoping to lose weight because eating pecans increases metabolism, which encourages weight loss. The high levels of fiber and heart-healthy fats in pecans can also encourage weight loss because they contribute to earlier feelings of fullness and discourage overeating.
- Pecans can help lower blood pressure: Unsalted pecans can help lower blood pressure due to their high levels of heart-healthy fats and magnesium.
- Pecans keep your heart healthy: Pecans contains beta-sitosterol (phytosterol), a natural compound that lowers the bad (LDL) cholesterol in blood, and reduces the risk of heart attacks. In addition, pecans contain relatively high levels of vitamin-E, which is good for the cardiovascular system and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks, as well as heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Pecans keep your prostate healthy: The beta-sitosterol content in pecans helps treat treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of prostate gland in men. It has also been found that pecans contain a type of Vitamin-E, gamma tocopherol, which has the ability to destroy cancerous cells without harming the healthy cells.
- Pecans help prevent breast cancer: Pecan nuts are rich in oleic acid. This fatty acid, which is also found in olive oil, helps to suppress the action of a gene in cells which triggers breast cancer.
- Pecans replace meat: Like meat, pecans are nutrient dense, flavorful, and high in protein, but unlike meat, they contain very little saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart attack. Instead pecans are high in healthy unsaturated fats ad contain compounds that can help lower cholesterol.
- Pecans helps digestion: A single ounce of pecans provides 10% of the daily recommended value of dietary fiber. High fiber diets help maintain a healthy digestive system.
- Pecans are an excellent source of antioxidants: Pecans contain many antioxidants, including lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotenes and ellagic acid. Beta-carotenes, zeaxanthin and lutien are good for eye health, while ellagic acid is beneficial in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin E, another antioxidant found in pecans, may help protect the nervous system and delay the progress of neurological diseases.
- Pecan nuts are naturally sodium-free: This makes them the perfect choice for those people who are on a low salt or sodium-restricted diet.