Health benefits of pecans include reduced risk of high cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, gallstone disease and cancer. It has antioxidant properties and helps in weight management. It also protects vital organs from toxic effects of Cyclophosphamide.
Pecan, Carya illinoinensis a member of plant family Juglandaceae is native to North America. It is the state tree of Texas and Native Americans are found to have used it for its medicinal value. Pecan tree may grow up to a height of 44 m with flowering happening in the spring season. . Though it used to grow wildly; in the recent years it has been included in the list of the major fruits that are domesticated. Pecan trees can last up to 300 years of which it continues to bear fruits annually.
Apart from Northen America it is now cultivated in some countries of Africa, southern America, Asia and also in Australia. This is an important forest tree of the United States and has economical advantage. The nut is edible and the charcoal and fuelwoods are used as fuels. The wood of the tree is also useful.
Culinary use of pecan: It is edible both in raw state and can also be used in making other meals such as desserts. It is also commonly used by some people in preparation of savory meals. The famous pecan pie which is a common delicacy in the Southern United States derives its name from pecans which forms part of its key ingredients. New Orleans is another state that has a common candy that contains pecans; Praline candy.
Nutritional value of Pecans
Being in the class of fruits pecans are known to have nutrients which are required by the body for good health. Pecans contain protein, energy, fiber, amino acids, fats, starch and sugars. Other nutrients contained in this fruit include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, Beta carotene, folate, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K. Amongst minerals it is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Consuming a handful of pecans translates to ingestion of different types of nutrients into the body that would have been impossible even on taking the laboratory prepared supplements. Due to composition of pecan several research and studies have been carried out to ascertain the benefits of this fruit. Here are some of the health benefits that are associated with the consumption of this type of fruit
Health Benefits of Pecans
Pecan full of various nutrients provides many health benefits. Some of which include:
Low cholesterol levels: High level of cholesterol in the body is one of the causes of several cardiovascular ailments that are common in the current society. Once detected a person is put under medication that are used to control the levels of the harmful cholesterol. Eating pecans on a regular basis carries out this function of balancing the cholesterol levels. A study conducted by Rajaram S et al. suggests that pecans with its high monosaturated fat may be prescribed as a part of diet which is low in cholesterol levels to patients or healthy individuals.
Diabetes: Nuts such as pecans are beneficial in maintaining blood sugar levels especially for those suffering from diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders and hence it is necessary to have a healthy diet that has necessary nutrients and minerals. Their consumption is not only recommended for those with diabetic condition but for those aspiring to keep this medical condition at bay. Research study suggests that intake of nuts such as pecans may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.
Healthy heart: Health benefits of pecans include reduced risk of heart related ailments. . Nuts such as pecan have protein, vitamin E and oxidant properties which help in protecting the heart and reducing risk of hypertension.
Abundant antioxidants: Pecan contains constituents like tocopherol and flavan-3-ol monomers that help in in inhibiting oxidation of the lipids that exist in the blood which in turn offers protection against heart diseases. Research was conducted to study the effect of pecan on postprandial antioxidant capacity and catechins and decrease LDL oxidation in humans and the findings suggest that bioactive composition may contribute to postprandial antioxidant defenses.
Weight control: Pecans is also beneficial in managing weight. It is rich in fats but also contain protein and fiber which may make one feel full for longer duration and thus help in lowering intake of other high calorie foods.
Gallstones: Consumption of nuts such as peanut, almonds and pecans etc. is also associated with reduced risk of gallstones. Findings of a research carried out to study the effect of consumption of nuts on risk of gallstones suggest that frequent consumption may reduce risk of gallstone diseases in men.
Cancer: Pecans may also help in reducing risk of cancer. It is rich in phenolic compounds, tannins which are associated with prevention of various diseases including cardiovascular disorders and cancer.
Anti-toxicity properties: Cyclophosphamide compound is associated with life threatening effects such as cancer. Research study suggests that pecan shell with its antioxidant effects may protect the vital organs such as heart kidney, bladder of the body from Cyclophosphamide induced toxicity.
Select and store- Pecans
Pecans are easily available throughout the year in major stores all over the world. Pick the ones which have more nutmeat and look fairly uniform in color and size. Make sure the pecans are stored in clean and dry containers away from any insects etc. It’s better to store them in refrigerator as that protects it from insects and also maintains the freshness of the nut.
Pecans have a long shelf life especially when kept under the right conditions. This is advantageous since one can buy in bulk and store for future use. Bulk buying on the other hand has a cost benefit that can be termed as ‘being friendly to the’ pocket.
Quick ideas to serve
Salads: Mix vegetables or cooked meat such as chicken, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, onion etc. with pecans. Add salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil and mix well. One may also add other herbs and spices such as basil leaves, chili flakes etc.
Roasted pecans: Roast pecans in oven for 10-15 minutes. Add butter/oil, cinnamon powder, vanilla extract and salt as per taste to the roasted pecans.
Desserts: It can also be added to various desserts such as cakes puddings etc.
It is easy to eat pecans rather than being on medication. The research and studies carried out to determine the viability and importance of taking this fruit is a proof enough to indicate that it is medically proven to be effective in reducing the risks and occurrence of the diseases mentioned above.
We are what we eat and that is why to maintain a healthy body that is free from diseases one should stick to a meal that contains all the nutrients and in the right quantity. This is why the intake of pecans is advocated for since it contains plenty of these minerals and in the right quantities that are useful keeping the body healthy and resistant to diseases. Staying healthy is a choice that one makes and it is possible by taking pecans or any other form of nuts or food that have nutritional value.