August 17, 2016 · Written by Foodtolive Team
A Guide to Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Pecan Nuts
Pecan nuts are native to the central and southern regions of the US, but today they are cultivated all over the world. The secret of their popularity is an extremely high nutritious value and delicious buttery taste that one can’t fail to fall in love with. Health benefits of pecan nuts also deserve recognition as this is one of the best foods you can include in your diet.
Like the rest of the nuts, pecans contain large amounts of unsaturated fats and a great variety of nutrients. They are one of the most popular kinds of nuts in the US and you can enjoy them all year-round. Pecans can be eaten fresh or roasted, as well as added to a variety of dishes. Today we’ll tell you about the reasons why these nuts are considered one of the healthiest foods and offer some of our favorite recipes.
Top 4 Health Benefits of Pecan Nuts
Pecans health benefits come from the nutrients they feed to your body. The most important of them are:
- They lower the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Cholesterol is an important substance in the body, and we actually need it to stay healthy. However, there are two kinds of it. The ‘good’ HDL cholesterol protects blood vessels without compromising their flexibility. The ‘bad’ LDL variety creates a kind of plaque on the inside of your arteries, increasing the risk of the coronary heart disease, stroke, and other dangerous conditions. Pecan nuts are rich in various monosaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid. They provide you with HDL cholesterol and help reduce the content of LDL in your blood.
- They are rich in antioxidants.
One of the most important health benefits of pecan nuts is their ability to help your body deal with the detrimental effects of oxidation. Free radicals harm you on many levels, increasing the risk of diseases, and speeding up the process of natural aging. Pecans contain large amounts of several potent antioxidants, including beta-carotene, ellagic acid, vitamin E, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Therefore, consuming them regularly promotes your general health, as well as helps reduce the risk of dangerous disease, including infections and some types of cancer.
Ellagic acid, in particular, is currently studied due to its ability to inhibit the DNA binding of some carcinogens.
- They give you a boost of B vitamins.
There are many different types of B vitamins, and each has its own unique benefits. All of them take part in the production of various enzymes that control a variety of processes in the body. Therefore, deficiencies in these elements weaken your health as a whole and can have some very dangerous consequences. For example, vitamin B6 is necessary for maintaining the health and integrity of the nervous system. Pecan nuts are extremely rich in various B vitamins, and a handful of them will help you meet your daily required dose of these elements.
- They give you a huge boost of manganese.
Health benefits of pecan nuts are most prominent for the nervous system because they contain a huge amount of manganese. This element is vital for maintaining a healthy brain function. In fact, its deficiency can lead to some serious disorders and even trigger epileptic seizures. Manganese also plays an important role in the formation and growth of bones, so it’s imperative for children to consume enough of it. One ounce of pecans provides you with 64% of the daily required dose of this mineral.
Pecans offer a great number of other benefits and contribute to maintaining your overall health as they provide you with lots of other important nutrients. These elements include but aren’t limited to copper, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and potassium.
They are also rich in dietary fiber, which means that they can be integrated into a weight loss diet.
Pecans are one of the nuts you can eat during pregnancy. As they contain B vitamins, including folate, they help reduce the risk of birth defects. The copper from the nuts promotes healthy brain development of the fetus.
How to Select and Store Pecans
Pecan nuts are extremely undemanding in terms of storage, which is another reason that makes them so popular. You can buy them shelled, unshelled, halved, in pieces, salted, caramelized, etc. They are sold all year round.
To get all the health benefits pecan nuts have to offer, you need to look for high-quality products. They are:
- Uniform in size
- Feature even golden-brown color
- Free of rancid smell and mold
All in all, look for pecans that look healthy and appetizing.
You can buy pecan nuts in bulk, which is a great way to save money on your vegetarian shopping list. They can keep for months if you place them in an airtight container and put it somewhere cool. Remember that moisture is the #1 enemy of nuts. Keeping them in the fridge would be best.
Pecans: Culinary Uses
It’s not only health benefits of pecan nuts that made them so incredibly popular in the US. Their delicious flavor is definitely one of the main attractions of this food. There are a great many culinary uses for them and you should definitely try them all in order to discover all the tasty wonders pecans have to offer.
- Raw as a snack to taste the natural flavor.
- Roasted to enhance that flavor as well as enjoy a fantastic aroma.
- Added to baked goods as they make your dishes both more delicious and more nutritious.
- Sprinkled over salads to add a pleasant crunch and a new dimension of flavor.
- As a butter to create incredible sandwiches.
- In confectionaries to add new flavors to the sweet delicacies.
- Sprinkled over sundaes to make the most amazing dessert even better.
3 Simple and Delicious Vegetarian Pecan Recipes
Everyone can enjoy the health benefits of pecan nuts because you can add them to a great number of recipes. From the simplest route of sprinkling the nuts onto your morning porridge to making incredible pecan cakes. We offer three of our most favorite pecan recipes:
American Pecan Pie
- 4 oz. unsalted butter
- 4 oz. honey or golden syrup or corn syrup
- 8 oz. brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 8 ½ oz. shortcrust pastry case
- 10 oz. halved pecans
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Put the butter, syrup (honey), and vanilla extract into a pan and over a low heat.
- Melt and mix the ingredients. Let cool for 5-10 minutes/
- Add beaten eggs to the butter mix and stir everything until smooth.
- Place pecan halves into the pastry case evenly and pour the mixture over them.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes.
Stuffed Peppers with Pecans
- 4 large jarred roasted peppers
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- 4 oz. soft goat cheese (can be replaced with any other soft cheese of your choosing)
- ¼ cup toasted pecans
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Open each pepper by slitting it on the side and sprinkle the salt and pepper inside.
- Put a spoonful of cheese in the middle (spread).
- Place basil, raisins, and pecans on top of the cheese. Distribute evenly.
- Close the peppers gently and place them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle with olive oil.
- Bake for about 10 minutes.
Cinnamon Pecans (Vegan)
- 2 pounds halved pecan nuts
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon sweet leaf stevia (or to taste)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan and blend in stevia, salt, and cinnamon.
- Roast the pecans.
- Toss still hot pecans into the oil-cinnamon mix and stir well to ensure every nut is coated.
- Let cool a bit and serve. Can be eaten either warm or cooled. Keep the leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.