If you’re like most health conscious consumers, you’re probably heard that pecans are good for you because they are full of healthy nutrients. But what nutrients are those exactly, and what is so unique about the pecan? Let’s take a closer look at what exactly makes pecans so good for us.
Like most nuts, pecans are a rich source of healthy fats (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats) and plant sterols which help lower cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk. Pecan consumption specifically has been shown to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) in our bodies. They are also a very rich source of fiber which has almost too many benefits to list (increases feelings of fullness, helps reduce cholesterol levels, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and is even associated with lower risk of some cancers, such as colon cancer).
Pecans are also packed full of vitamins and minerals. They actually contain 19 different vitamins or minerals and are rich in minerals such as Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, and Manganese to name a few. They also contain large amounts of certain vitamins, including several B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, B5, B6, Niacin, and Folate) and vitamins E and K.
But… I’ve saved possibly the best for last. What people generally don’t know is that pecans are an extremely rich source of antioxidants. In fact, they contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut and are in the top category (top 15) for the highest antioxidant levels of any food out there. They also contain anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants. So, what do these antioxidants actually do that make them so good for us? Well, they “only” help reduce signs of aging and protect again cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing free radical oxidative stress and damage to our DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. So, do your body a favor and eat Pecans!
Guest Author: Jamie A. Cooper, PhD
Dr. Jamie Copper is an associate professor in sports nutrition at the University of Georgia. She holds two degrees from Michigan State University and her Ph.D. From University of Wisconsin-Madison and, came to UGA From Texas Tech University. Dr. Cooper has published numerous journal articles with a list of exceptional colleagues and has published one book, "The Complete Nutrition Guides for Triathletes" (2012). In addition to studying metabolism and hunger/satiety in humans as it relates to obesity and chronic disease, she carries outreach in the area of sport nutrition.