I’m always telling people to “Go Nuts for their Health”, but how nuts should you go? I recommend aiming for an ounce (28 grams) a day. And to avoid nuts packaged or roasted in oil; instead, eat them raw or dry roasted. I’ve always focused on almonds and walnuts as my suggested go-to nuts, but let’s explore the top three health reasons why you should eat pecans.
Pecans and Immune Health
Pecans have protein and healthy fats which can contribute to a balanced diet. They also contain zinc. Zinc helps with cell growth and maintenance plus wound healing. Zinc is a necessary factor for both immune and skin health. Also, pecans are a good source of gamma-tocopherols, which is a form of the antioxidant vitamin E. Research demonstrates that antioxidants combat oxidative stress and protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals (1).
Pecans and Heart Health
Pecans are loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Since these are considered healthy fats, they contribute to lowered blood lipid levels and lowered cholesterol levels, which improves heart health and decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease (2). Also, pecan’s fibre content may contribute to lowered fat absorption, controlled blood sugar levels, and increased satiety.
Pecans and Men’s Health
Pecans have a compound called beta-sitosterol. It is a plant steroid found in certain fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, especially pecans. Emerging research suggests beta-sitosterol may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate (3). This is achieved by inhibiting a certain enzyme, preventing testosterone from being converted into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Excess DHT in the body is factor in the enlargement of the prostate.
Adding Pecans to Your Menu
Remember to practice portion control and do not eat handfuls at a time! Enjoy one ounce (28 grams) which is approximately 18 to 20 pecan halves a day. Traditionally pecans are used in desserts and baked goods; however they are a versatile nut for both meals and snacks. Add them to your morning hot cereal, sprinkle them on your salad at lunch, mix them in your yogurt for a mid afternoon snack and for supper try this pecan crusted trout recipe from ilovepecans.org.
Let me know your favourite way to enjoy pecans!
- Haddada E, Jambazianb P, Karuniac M, Tanzmana J, and Sabate J. A pecan-enriched diet increases c-tocopherol/cholesterol and decreases thiobarbituric acid reactive substances in plasma of adults. Nutrition Research. 2006;26:397-402.
- Sabaté J, Oda K, and Ros E. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: A pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(9):821-827.
- Pagano E, Laudato M, Griffo M, Capasso R. Phytotherapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia. A minireview. Phytother Res. 2014;Jul:28(7):949-55.