Why pecans should be your go-to snack when you’re hungry
Pecans are used in a wide variety of food products, most notable of which is pecan pie, a Thanksgiving favorite. But if you are concerned about the sugar, salt, and additives that go in to most pecan dishes, you can always try eating these delicious nuts by themselves. Here are some of the health benefits you’re bound to gain from snacking on pecans:
A bunch of antioxidants
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are known for their massive antioxidant content, but nothing beats pecans. In fact, studies indicate that pecans have the most antioxidants among nuts. That’s more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A (carotenes), B (folate and thiamine), and E, as well as minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, among others, packed inside a small tasty package.
Eating pecans can boost your immune system and protect you from common illnesses. Zinc, for example, is crucial to the development and proper function of your immune cells. It can also lower your risk of developing lifestyle- and age-related conditions. The antioxidants in pecans fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress, a key factor in the onset and progression of serious conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Flavonoids are present in pecans, and they can help you avoid many chronic conditions, including diabetes and cognitive decline. Studies indicate a possible connection between weight maintenance and flavonoids, so snacking on pecans may help you achieve your weight loss targets.
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A healthy heart
Like other nuts, pecans are rich in fats – the good kind. They have high levels of monounsaturated fats, the same type you’ll find in healthy olive and sunflower oils and avocados, to name a few. These fats do not raise your cholesterol levels – they help control the bad fat in your blood. Pecans also contain vitamin E and beta-carotene that mitigate the effects of chronic inflammation, a key factor in heart disease, and are good for cardiovascular health.
Very little sugar
Too much sugar is bad for you, whether you have diabetes or not. Pecans do not have a high sugar content, which makes them ideal for guilt-free snacking. They may even aid you in controlling your blood sugar levels and preventing blood sugar spikes.
A long-lived brain
Your brain can lose its ability to function optimally as you age. The vitamin E in pecans is great not just for your heart, eyes, and skin; it also has benefits for your brain. Your gray matter is especially vulnerable to the effects of oxidative stress – to much oxidative stress is linked to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease – so the protective effects of antioxidants go a long way in protecting the brain from damage and decline.
You can eat a lot of pecans and not be too bothered by your sodium and sugar intake, as long as they are raw (not roasted). Sodium, although necessary in the right doses, can cause a variety of health problems, including kidney damage and cardiovascular disease.
Fast facts about pecans
Here are some interesting facts about pecans:
- Just like peanuts, pecans are not nuts. In science, they are classified as fruits, specifically, drupes – fruits with a prominent pit and seed enclosed within a fleshy part – like peaches, cherries, and plums. Peanuts are legumes.
- Pecans are largely homegrown, with about 80 percent of the world’s supply coming from the U.S.
- Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both loved pecans. Jefferson even had pecan trees in his orchard.
- Its name comes from a Native American word that describes hard nuts you need to crack with a stone.
- The pecan tree is used as wood for many types of furniture.
Learn more about the health benefits of pecans at Fruits.news.