Pecans are as nutritious to eat as they are delicious. These delicate nuts are excellent sources of protein and contain energy producing nutrients – carbohydrates. The fat found in pecans is mostly polyunsaturated and contains no cholesterol. Its add fiber to your diet and contain iron, calcium, vitamins A, B, and C, potassium and phosphorous. Also add flavor and a delighted crunchiness to a variety of foods. Adding ten large pecan halves to your salads, toppings, vegetables, meat dishes and desserts will add 65 nutritious calories to your diet.

Nutrient-Dense Pecans

Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc. Pecans are also a natural, high-quality source of protein that contain very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol. Pecans are also naturally sodium-free, making them an excellent choice for those on a salt- or sodium-restricted diet.

Adding pecans to a low-fat diet can significantly improve the cholesterol-lowering properties of a heart-healthy diet. According to new studies a heart-healthy diet, is more effective in lowering cholesterol when pecans are added – even though the pecans added more total fat to the diet. And study participants did not gain weight on the pecan diet. This confirms that it is the type of fat in the diet (i.e. the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in pecans) that is more important to heart health than total fat intake.

A pecan-rich diet also increased levels of dietary fiber.

Pecan kernels contain 65 to 70 percent oil. Approximately 73 percent of fresh pecan oil consists of monounsaturated (oleic) and 17 percent polyunsaturated (linoleic) fatty acids. Oleic is the same fatty acid found in olives. Olive oil has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

They are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acid-similar to olive oil.

Benefits

Low Cholesterol Low

Medical researchers give pecans the thumbs-up for their ability to lower cholesterol when small amounts are included in the diet on a regular basis. Scientists exploring the beneficial properties of pecans discovered they are a concentrated source of plant sterols known to lower cholesterol.

In addition, pecans contain phytochemicals that offer antioxidant protection from many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Pecans are sodium-free and contain more than19 different vitamins and minerals, making them an ideal nutritious alternative to animal-based foods.

Oleic acid is the main monounsaturated acid in most nuts, including pecans, and is credited with lowering LDL cholesterol while not affecting the HDL. Many studies reveal that a high ratio of monounsaturates to polyunsaturates is helpful in reducing risk of heart disease.

Pecans are high in zinc, a mineral that helps the body to generate testosterone. Both men and women benefit from good levels of testosterone, a hormone responsible for sparking sexual desire.

Antioxidant-Rich Pecans

New researchshows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may be help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping prevent heart disease. The researchers suggest that this positive effect was in part due to the pecan’s significant content of vitamin E – an antioxidant. Pecans contain different forms of vitamin E, which protects blood lipids from oxidation. Oxidation of lipids in the body – a process akin to rusting – is detrimental to health. When the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol becomes oxidized, it is more likely to build up and result in clogged arteries.

Using a method that has proven to be a good indicator of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of foods called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers measured the antioxidant capacity of nuts among 100 commonly consumed foods, including different types of nuts, and determined pecans have more antioxidant capacity than walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts and cashews.

Numerous other studies have also shown that phytochemicals, like those found in pecans, act like antioxidants and may have a protective effect against certain diseases, such as various cancers and heart disease.

Preparation

The nuts can be eaten fresh without any preparation at all just by cracking them with a simple, old-fashioned nutcracker. They are one of the most versatile foods vegetarians can enjoy.

It can be ground, grated, shredded, pureed, and diced. Added to any dish, pecans are a nutritional and gastronomic enhancement. They can be added to soups, salads, appetizers, main dishes, grain and legume dishes, and even desserts.

Raw

When preparing foods containing a considerable quantity of nuts, take advantage of the convenience of already shelled nuts

For some old-fashioned pleasure, purchase a pound of pecans in the shell along with a few nutcrackers. Gather around the table, and serve the nuts as a dessert along with fresh fruit. People become friendly quickly, exchanging jokes and enjoying stimulating conversation. Be sure to provide a bowl for the shells.

Pecans make a great garnish.

Include them in a salad for pleasant texture and great taste.

Using the blender, blend a handful of pecans into a salad dressing as a thickener.

For a great energy boost, include pecans in a smoothie along with fruit and juices.

Prepare a pecan milk by blending raw pecans and water into a creamy nutmilk. Pour through a fine strainer to remove any pieces.

Toasted

To toast pecans, put 1 cup (240 ml) into a non-stick skillet. Toss them over high heat constantly for about 1 to 2 minutes. Stirring is important to prevent burning. Immediately transfer them to a dish to cool. Store them in a cool, dry place.

To roast: Put larger quantities of pecans on a baking pan and roast in the oven at 350 F (Gas Mark 4) for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to another pan to cool.

Make pecan milk from toasted nuts. Combine with water in a saucepan, and boil 1 or 2 minutes. Allow it to rest a few hours to develop flavor. Then blend and strain.

Pecans are available in many forms; you’ll find them vacuum-packed in jars, sealed in plastic bags, or packed in cans. For the freshest and most flavorful pecans, choose whole ones in the shell; look for nuts that are heavy for their size and don’t rattle when shaken. There shouldn’t be any cracks or holes in the shells. When you buy shelled pecans in bags or cans, look for an expiration date. Shelled pecans absorb odors and turn rancid quickly, and should be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Pecans also freeze very well, so if you buy more than you can use right away, store them in a moisture-proof plastic bag in the freezer. Unshelled pecans can be stored for about 3 months at room temperature.

Pecans are most popular in desserts such as pies, cookies, and candies, but also make an interesting addition to salads, stuffings, chicken or fish coating, and other savory main or side dishes. They are also delicious whole, toasted and spiced, or covered with chocolate.

Even though pecans have a high fat content, they’re a good source of potassium, thiamine, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, niacin, folic acid, iron, and vitamin B6, and also a good source of fiber. The fats are composed of 87% unsaturated fatty acids (62% monosaturated and 25% polyunsaturated).

Sources: Royalty pecans, Love Pecans

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