Every season is pecan season. Pecans are one of the most popular and loved nuts. They grow on trees native to North America and Mexico, and are available in many varieties. You can have them fresh or roasted as snacks or added in several recipes . It’s rich buttery flavor is a delight in both sweet and savory dishes.
When buying pecans, look for nuts that feel heavier and similar in size. You can get de-shelled pecans easily, but if you are among people who desire the freshest-tasting nuts, you might want to buy them with shells and de-shell them yourself.
Nuts are known to be a healthy food as they are rich in healthy fats. In addition to that, they also contain fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Weight conscious people often overlook pecans in their diet. Pecans have been shown to help with weight loss, prevent health problems like atherosclerosis, diabetes and brain health issues. Even if you are on a low-fat diet, the healthy fats of pecans cannot be ignored. They come with several antioxidants, decreased inflammation along with many other health benefits.
Here are 5 reasons you should snack on pecans frequently:
All nuts have the ability to suppress your appetite. They are rich in healthy fats that fill you up in just a small amount and you no longer feel the need to snack on junk foods.
If you are on a low-fat diet, make sure you are aware of the cons of such a diet. Healthy fats have a huge impact on the hunger hormone “ghrelin” and therefore, weight maintenance. Increased levels of ghrelin is linked to a rise in stress levels and raised appetite. When you consume pecans, healthy fats readily cause a reduction of ghrelin in the body, satisfying your hunger.
Pecans also contain enough manganese to complete half the daily required amount of manganese. Manganese also plays a role in weight loss. Although it’s not clear how, but when combined with other nutrients (like copper), it reduces weight in obese or overweight men and women.
Good for your Heart
Pecans being rich in omega 3s, contains oleic acid (among other monounsaturated fats) as well as phenolic antioxidants that decrease the risk of heart disease. According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, just by adding a handful of pecans in your diet, you can reduce LDL cholesterol and raise HDL (good cholesterol) in your body. This means that you will have a reduced risk of atherosclerosis leading to stroke and heart attacks. A research published in the August 2006 issue of Nutrition Research showed that pecans help in prevention of heart disease by blocking unwanted oxidation of blood fats.
Fiber is also good for your heart and luckily, pecans are loaded with fiber thereby protecting your heart as well as preventing some forms of cancer.
Pecan nuts stand among one of the highest antioxidant rich foods, according to USDA. According to a research conducted by the Georgia Pecan Corporation, pecan nuts contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut.
Pecans are loaded with polyphenol antioxidants like flavonoids. In fact, the flavonoid content in pecans is two times more than that in almonds, cashews,and pistachios. Pecans also contain the highest amount of gamma-tocopherols (a type of Vitamin E) among all other nuts.
Another study conducted at Loma Linda University in California showed that eating pecans raised the level of antioxidants in the bloodstream within 24 hours after it’s consumption.
Pecans are also a rich source of another antioxidant, manganese. Manganese is required by your body for nerve conduction and brain function. It protects your nerve cells from free-radical damage, thereby increasing immunity and preventing diseases.
Pecan nuts also contain more vital antioxidants like ellagic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin E which remove free radicals responsible for premature skin aging. So grab a handful of pecan nuts to treat fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.
Pecans can also protect you from cancer because of it’s anti-proliferative properties of ellagic acid that blocks binding of DNA to certain carcinogens such as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Oleic acid in pecans also contributes in reducing the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Along with several vitamins and minerals, pecans also contain a considerable amount of magnesium which is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have found that consumption of magnesium has an inverse relation to systemic inflammation. This means there will be a decreased risk of arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases.
A study conducted in february 2010 showed that the level of inflammatory indicators in body such as CRP, TNF and IL-6 decreased when magnesium intake was increased.
Pecans are also a good source of copper that contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties, especially pain and stiffness that is very common in arthritis. Make sure you include a good amount of pecans in your diet if you have arthritis.
Good for Bones and Teeth
Pecans are also an abundant source of phosphorus. Phosphorus and calcium needs of your body are somewhat similar, with 85% of it being found in bones and teeth. Phosphorus also helps the body to eliminate waste and together with calcium, promotes the health of your bones and teeth and can counteract muscle pain and cramping from exercise.
Phosphorus is also a vital part of the process of growth and repair of cells and tissues along with the production of DNA and RNA. Phosphorus along with manganese, copper and zinc (all found in pecan nuts) can also be used to treat the symptoms of osteoporosis. Studies show that these nutrients help in treating women suffering bone loss by helping increasing bone mass and reducing bone loss.
About the Author
Amanda Bentley has 5 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry and currently works as a Content writer at Qavashop (www.qavashop.com). Qavashop.com is an online store for all the “coffee aficionados” located in the GCC. Apart from providing its customers with quality coffee machines and consumables, it also provides them with skilled, knowledgeable advice on how to make their own restaurant quality espresso at home.
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