All about Pecans: Nutrition, Health Benefits & Healthy Recipes

Pecans

Crunchy in texture and buttery in flavor, pecans may be your favorite snack food. Have your ever considered the health benefits of pecans while consuming these little nuts? Are pecans even nuts? Well, not really. A pecan is considered a drupe. Learn about pecan nutrition and pecan calories. Also, try out some of the delicious pecan recipes listed below.

Pecan Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, 100 grams of pecans have 691 calories, 9.6 grams of dietary fiber, 9.17 grams of protein, and 71.9 grams of total fat. Pecans are calorie-intensive per gram compared to other drupes and nuts.

Pecan Nutrition

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Pecans are low in carbs. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, B and E, and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. They also contain selenium, an essential mineral required in small quantities.

The nutritional information of pecans implies that it minimizes the risk of cardiovascular diseases and has many health benefits.

10 Health Benefits of Pecans

Here are 10 health benefits of pecans.

Lowers the Risk of Breast and Colon Cancer

Pecans contain oleic acid (a fatty acid), which inhibits the growth of cancerous cells. These fatty acids also help to keep the cell membrane healthy and functional.

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Lowers the Risk of Strokes

Pecans are rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, which hunt the free radicals in the body and prevent LDL oxidation in postmenopausal women.  When given a diet rich in vitamin E, these women showed a 60% decrease in strokes, according to a study.

Lowers High Cholesterol

Consuming about two hand fulls of pecans every day can lower LDL cholesterol. According to a study conducted by researchers at the New Mexico State University, people who ate about 88 grams of shelled pecan halves per day for eight weeks, showed a decrease in their LDL cholesterol. It was reduced by 10% when their blood samples were tested after four weeks, and by six percent at the end of the eighth week.

Prevents Obesity

Pecans contain 11% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. They are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and are recommended for obese people by dietitians. Since they are fiber-rich and filled with essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, they help boost metabolism.

Promotes Bone and Teeth Health

Pecans contain phosphorus and calcium which promote healthy bones and teeth. They help in the growth and repair of cells and tissues, and in the production of DNA and RNA as well.

Strengthens the Immune System

The manganese present in pecans is a powerful antioxidant, which helps boost immunity and protects the nerve cells from free radical damage.

Prevents Skin Problems

Skin-Disorders

Pecans also benefit the skin. They are a good source of vitamins A and E, folate, phosphorus, and iron, which are important nutrients for the skin. Also, massaging with pecan oil improves blood circulation and makes the skin soft and supple.

Improves Blood Circulation

Pecans improve blood circulation owing to the presence of vitamins E and K, which strengthen the red blood cells. Pecan oil is extremely healthy and can be compared to olive oil. It can be massaged into the skin and hair, improving blood circulation. The proper flow of blood to the hair roots ensures healthy hair growth.

Pecans are a rich source of L-arginine (an amino acid), which helps improve the health of artery walls, and allows blood to flow easily throughout the body.

Rectifies Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency leads to a low hemoglobin count or anemia. This causes fatigue, cramps, hair loss, and other health issues. Pecans are a good source of iron, which helps improve the blood iron levels, preventing hair loss.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Pecans boost heart health and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. They contain monounsaturated fatty acids which increase the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the body (the good cholesterol). According to research studies, pecans may help prevent coronary heart disease by inhibiting the unwanted oxidation of blood lipids.

4 Healthy Pecan Recipes 

Knowing the health benefits of pecans and their nutrition facts, it would be wise to include them into your diet. There are numerous pecan recipes like candies, pies, and cakes. Give these healthy pecan recipes a try.

Pecan Pie Recipe

If you don’t know how to make pecan pie, here is a healthy pecan pie recipe.

Sticky sweet pecan pie on a plate with a fork

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Beat the eggs until foamy in a large bowl. Add in melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and flour and mix together. Add the milk, vanilla, and nuts.

Pour into an unbaked nine-inch pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce temperature to 350°F. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes.

Spicy Rosemary Pecans Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of coconut oil and add one tablespoon of honey, half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and half teaspoon of salt and mix well.

After the mixture melts, add two cups of raw pecans and stir them for two to three minutes.

Lay out the pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and toss with two tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary and serve.

Blueberry Pecan Bran Muffins Recipe

Easy Healthy Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat white flour (divided)
  • ½ cup wheat bran (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (packed)
  • ¹⁄³ cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries (thawed slightly if frozen)
  • ¹⁄³ cup pecans (pieces)

Directions

Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Whisk together 1 ¼ cup flour, baking powder, wheat bran, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs, and oil until frothy, then whisk in the milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to mix. Toss the blueberries in a tablespoon of flour to coat them. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter in the muffin cups and sprinkle with the pecan pieces. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve.

Lotus Deviled Eggs Recipe

deviled eggs with paprika and green onion garnish

Ingredients:

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, halved and separated
  • ½ cup black olives (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup bread and butter pickles
  • ¼ cup white onion (finely chopped)
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons pimentos (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Table salt
  • Paprika

Directions

In a medium bowl, mash the yolks and add the remaining ingredients except paprika. Place the egg whites on a platter and stuff them with the filling. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Common Side Effects of Pecans

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, four to eight percent of children and two percent of adults are diagnosed with food allergies. Even though the benefits of pecans are innumerable, they may also cause allergic reactions in some people. Those with a pecan allergy will have allergy symptoms within one hour of ingesting a pecan or a pecan-containing substance. The side effects of pecans can be mild to life-threatening.

A pecan allergy can result in hives, swelling of the throat, vomiting, shortness of breath and dizziness, as the immune system reacts with proteins in pecans. Some people may also have symptoms like wheezing, coughing, itching, and loss of consciousness. The symptoms don’t usually occur at the same time, and some people may have only skin symptoms such as hives or swelling. It is also recommended that people with a pecan allergy avoid peanuts and all tree nuts due to potential cross-contamination in the processing plant.


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Sources:

Group, E., “Healthy Nuts: Pecans vs Walnuts,” Global Healing Center web site,  January 8, 2016;
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/pecans-vs-walnuts/.

Durand, F., “100 Calories of Nuts: A Visual Guide,” Kitchn web site, May 27, 2014;
http://www.thekitchn.com/a-visual-guide-to-100-calories-of-nuts-snack-tips-from-the-kitchn-201778.

Borreli, L., “National Pecan Day: 6 Health Benefits Of Pecan Nuts, From Fighting Cancer To Alzheimer’s Disease,” Medical Daily web site, April 14, 2016; http://www.medicaldaily.com/national-pecan-day-health-benefits-fight-cancer-381598.