Pecan nuts - The Healthy Choice

Pecan nuts are a Healthy choice. Here are a few healthy reasons to include pecan nuts in your daily diet retrieved from the National Pecan Shellers Association.

  • Antioxidant-Rich Pecans Protect Against Unhealthy Oxidation in the Body
  • Pecans Are Most Antioxidant Rich Nut
  • Pecans Double the Cholesterol-Lowering Effectiveness of a Traditional Heart-Healthy Diet
  • Mediterranean Diet Including Nuts More Effective than Low-Fat Diets for Weight Loss
  • Pecans Increase Fiber and Nutrient Intake
  • Frequent Nut Consumption Lowers Heart Disease Risk
  • Pecans Raise Critical Serum Vitamin E Levels: May Support Prostate and Intestinal Health
  • Pecans: A Concentrated Source of Natural Plant Sterols
  • Pecans Improve Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Antioxidants in Pecans May Offer Stroke Protection
  • Frequent Nut Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women; Prospective Cohort Study
  • Pecan nuts are good for your heart and lowers the risk of cancer
  • A Possible Protective Effect of Nut Consumption on Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per 100 grams
Calories 690

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 72 g
110%
Saturated fat 6 g
30%
Polyunsaturated fat 22 g
Monounsaturated fat 41 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
0%
Sodium 0 mg
0%
Potassium 410 mg
11%
Total Carbohydrate 14 g
4%
Dietary fiber 10 g
40%
Sugar 4 g
Protein 9 g
18%
Caffeine
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
7%
Iron
13%
Vitamin D
0%
Vitamin B-6
10%
Vitamin B-12
0%
Magnesium
30%

*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Antioxidant-Rich Pecans Protect Against Unhealthy Oxidation in the Bodyhealth benefits

These findings are from the second phase of a research project designed to evaluate the health benefits of pecans. Researchers analyzed blood samples from study participants (a total of 23 men and women between the ages of 25 and 55) who ate two diets: one that contained pecans and one that did not. Participants were randomly placed on either the American Heart Association’s Step I diet or a pecan-enriched version of the Step I diet. (The pecan-enriched diet was similar to the Step I diet but replaced 20 percent of calories with pecans). After four weeks on one diet, they then switched to the other diet.

Results: In the laboratory analysis of blood samples from the research subjects, the researchers found that the pecan-enriched diets significantly reduced lipid oxidation (by 7.4 percent) versus the Step I diet. Oxidation levels were evaluated using the TBARS test, which measures oxidation products. The researchers also found that blood levels of tocopherols were higher after participants were on the pecan diet. Cholesterol-adjusted plasma gamma-tocopherol in the study participants’ blood samples increased by 10.1 percent (P < .001) after eating the pecan diet. The researchers concluded that these data provide some evidence for potential protective effects of pecan consumption in healthy individuals.

Another key research finding, beyond the reduced level of blood lipid oxidation, was that the various phytochemicals found in pecans seem to be protective of the pecan’s high levels of unsaturated fat. All unsaturated fats in foods can be prone to oxidation themselves (which some may describe in foods as rancidity). The analysis found that pecans, while high in unsaturated fat, are “self-protective” due to their vitamin E content (tocopherols) and relatively high content of complex phytonutrients, some of which have been identified as proanthocyanidins, or condensed tannins, which are recognized for their ability to slow the oxidation process.

Pecans Are Most Antioxidant Rich Nut

This landmark study examined the antioxidant capacities of over 100 different kinds of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, spices, cereals, infant, and other foods. Antioxidants are dietary substances that have been shown to delay aging and decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Results: Using a method that had been shown to be a good indicator of the total antioxidant capacity of foods called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity.

Pecans Double the Cholesterol-Lowering Effectiveness of a Traditional Heart-Healthy Diethealth benefits

This landmark study examined the antioxidant capacities of over 100 different kinds of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, spices, cereals, infant, and other foods. Antioxidants are dietary substances that have been shown to delay aging and decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Results: Using a method that had been shown to be a good indicator of the total antioxidant capacity of foods called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity.

Mediterranean Diet Including Nuts More Effective than Low-Fat Diets for Weight Loss

This landmark study examined the antioxidant capacities of over 100 different kinds of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, spices, cereals, infant, and other foods. Antioxidants are dietary substances that have been shown to delay aging and decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Results: Using a method that had been shown to be a good indicator of the total antioxidant capacity of foods called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity.

Pecans Increase Fiber and Nutrient Intakehealth benefits

Researchers at Texas A&M University discovered that a heart-healthy diet containing pecans can help control specific biomarkers of heart disease risk as effectively as the AHA Step I diet. Forty hypercholesterolemic men and women between the ages of 22 and 71, all of whom had already been eating a relatively low-fat diet, participated in the study. During the eight-week, randomized, controlled feeding trial, participants were placed on either the AHA Step I diet or an isocaloric but higher-fat, pecan-based diet. Since this was not a crossover study, the research participants ate one diet or the other, but not both.

Results: According to researchers Dr. Rosemary Walzem and Jessica Barloon, there were no significant differences in negative risk factors (e.g., c-reactive protein levels or lipoprotein size/density) between diets. However, the researchers found that the pecan-rich diet significantly increased participants’ levels of dietary fiber, thiamin, magnesium, copper and manganese and actually changed dietary copper and magnesium intakes from inadequate (on the AHA diet) to adequate (on the pecan diet).

Frequent Nut Consumption Lowers Heart Disease Risk

Researchers at Texas A&M University discovered that a heart-healthy diet containing pecans can help control specific biomarkers of heart disease risk as effectively as the AHA Step I diet. Forty hypercholesterolemic men and women between the ages of 22 and 71, all of whom had already been eating a relatively low-fat diet, participated in the study. During the eight-week, randomized, controlled feeding trial, participants were placed on either the AHA Step I diet or an isocaloric but higher-fat, pecan-based diet. Since this was not a crossover study, the research participants ate one diet or the other, but not both.

Results: According to researchers Dr. Rosemary Walzem and Jessica Barloon, there were no significant differences in negative risk factors (e.g., c-reactive protein levels or lipoprotein size/density) between diets. However, the researchers found that the pecan-rich diet significantly increased participants’ levels of dietary fiber, thiamin, magnesium, copper and manganese and actually changed dietary copper and magnesium intakes from inadequate (on the AHA diet) to adequate (on the pecan diet).

Pecans Raise Critical Serum Vitamin E Levels: May Support Prostate and Intestinal Health

An analysis of the Vitamin E content of blood was done using samples from the same research participants studied by Rajaram et al (see previous study). Loma Linda’s Dr. Ella Haddad evaluated effects of a pecan-enriched diet on serum gamma tocopherol levels for this study. Because the pecan-enriched diet actually lowered cholesterol levels, the researchers determined it was critical that the ratio of plasma tocopherol to cholesterol be determined.

Results: The researchers concluded that the pecan-enriched diet significantly raised blood levels of gamma tocopherol compared to the AHA Step I diet. This is due to the high amounts of naturally occurring gamma tocopherol (a unique form of vitamin E) in the pecans, said Dr. Haddad. The gamma tocopherol-to-cholesterol ratio was higher on the pecan-enriched diet compared to the control diet. According to Dr. Haddad, gamma tocopherol is an important antioxidant nutrient. Studies have shown that it may benefit intestinal health and have a protective effect against prostate cancer.

Pecans: A Concentrated Source of Natural Plant Sterols

After conducting laboratory nutrient analyses, researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) have determined that plant sterols – widely researched and touted for their cholesterol-lowering ability – are found naturally in pecans in concentrated amounts. According to Dr. Ron Eitenmiller, pecans contain as much as 95 milligrams of plant sterols per 100 grams – 90 percent of which is in the form of beta-sitosterol. Beta-sitosterol has been cited in multitudes of animal and human research studies as a food component that competes with the absorption of cholesterol in the body, and thus has the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels. According to the researchers, by increasing consumption of pecans (or peanuts), a person could easily raise the plant sterol levels in the diet to the point where health effects have been proven.

Pecans Improve Heart Disease Risk Factors

Dr. Wanda Morgan at New Mexico State University conducted a study in which 19 men and women with normal blood lipid levels were divided into two groups, both of which consumed self-selected diets. One of the groups served as a control group and ate their regular diets for eight weeks (without eating any nuts). Subjects in the pecan test group, however, supplemented their regular diets with ¾ cup of pecans (about a handful) for eight weeks.

Results: The researchers found that adding pecans to a self-selected diet lowered LDL cholesterol levels by six percent and total cholesterol by four percent among those who ate pecans. Dietary fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, insoluble sugar, magnesium, and energy also were significantly higher in the pecan group. However, despite the fact that the pecan diet contained more overall fat and calories, body mass indexes and body weights were unchanged in both groups.

Antioxidants in Pecans May Offer Stroke Protection

An analysis of the Vitamin E content of blood was done using samples from the same research participants studied by Rajaram et al (see previous study). Loma Linda’s Dr. Ella Haddad evaluated effects of a pecan-enriched diet on serum gamma tocopherol levels for this study. Because the pecan-enriched diet actually lowered cholesterol levels, the researchers determined it was critical that the ratio of plasma tocopherol to cholesterol be determined.

Results: The researchers concluded that the pecan-enriched diet significantly raised blood levels of gamma tocopherol compared to the AHA Step I diet. This is due to the high amounts of naturally occurring gamma tocopherol (a unique form of vitamin E) in the pecans, said Dr. Haddad. The gamma tocopherol-to-cholesterol ratio was higher on the pecan-enriched diet compared to the control diet. According to Dr. Haddad, gamma tocopherol is an important antioxidant nutrient. Studies have shown that it may benefit intestinal health and have a protective effect against prostate cancer.

Frequent Nut Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women; Prospective Cohort Study

This epidemiological study found that frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of fatal coronary heart disease and non-fatal coronary heart disease. Participants in the well-known Nurses’ Health Study (between the ages of 34 and 59) answered a survey regarding their dietary intake (including nut consumption) in 1980, 1984, 1986 and 1990. The questionnaire grouped nut consumption into four categories including: almost never, 1-3 times per month to once per week, 2-4 times per week and greater than 5 times per week. The responses were evaluated and analyzed to determine if an association between nut consumption and risk of fatal heart disease and non-fatal coronary heart disease existed.

Results: The researchers found that women who consumed one ounce portions of nuts frequently (more than 5 times a week) had a 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, than those women who rarely ate nuts. The authors concluded, “These data and those other epidemiological and clinical studies support a role for nuts in reducing coronary heart disease risk.

A Possible Protective Effect of Nut Consumption on Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Loma Linda University researchers evaluated diets of over 31,000 non-Hispanic white California Seventh-Day Adventists participating in the Adventist Health Study, a prospective cohort study. Participants completed questionnaires on their lifestyle, including food intake. On the food frequency questionnaire, participants categorized food intake on a scale of 1-8, ranging from “never consume” to “more than once per day.” The association between diet and coronary heart disease (CHD) events was determined via various methods.

Results: The researchers found that those who consumed nuts more than four times per week had fewer fatal CHD events and non-fatal heart disease events compared to those who consumed nuts less than once a week. Researchers concluded, “Our data strongly suggest that the frequent consumption of nuts may protect against risk of CHD events. The favorable fatty acid profile of many nuts in one possible explanation for such an effect.”

Pecan nuts are good for your heart and lowers the risk of cancer

Loma Linda University researchers evaluated diets of over 31,000 non-Hispanic white California Seventh-Day Adventists participating in the Adventist Health Study, a prospective cohort study. Participants completed questionnaires on their lifestyle, including food intake. On the food frequency questionnaire, participants categorized food intake on a scale of 1-8, ranging from “never consume” to “more than once per day.” The association between diet and coronary heart disease (CHD) events was determined via various methods.

Results: The researchers found that those who consumed nuts more than four times per week had fewer fatal CHD events and non-fatal heart disease events compared to those who consumed nuts less than once a week. Researchers concluded, “Our data strongly suggest that the frequent consumption of nuts may protect against risk of CHD events. The favorable fatty acid profile of many nuts in one possible explanation for such an effect.”

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