These soft, buttery and nutty little packages of healthy nutrients have become my top favorite nut. It’s hard to believe that three years ago, I would have made a face at any nut on the planet. That’s what finding out what’s healthy does for you – you try new things and find out they’re not so bad!
These lovely nuts are native to North America, specifically around the Mississippi Valley. Archaeologists have found fossil evidence that pecans made up a good part of the diets of the native peoples here, though, in the northern areas of Mexico and Texas, which is believed to be the true “birthplace” of this popular nut.
Like any nut, the bulk of its taste stems from its fat content (110 percent of your daily fat value in a cup of pecans). But don’t run away screaming just yet. Nuts and seeds are predominantly monounsaturated (heart-healthy!) fats. While it’s still good to keep an eye on your fat intake, you can rest easy that a pecan will only improve your LDL(bad, or “lousy”) blood lipid levels.
Although its high fat/calorie count can make one a little hesitant, a pecan nut encases a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals, too!
A quarter cup of pecans contains 2.6 grams of protein, 3.93 grams of carbs, and 2.72 grams of fiber. It is also jam-packed with sterols, known for lowering cholesterol.
Pecans also provide a fantastic supply of B vitamins. In one ounce (19 halves), you get:
- 17 percent of your RDI for vitamin B1
- 6 percent of your RDI for vitamin B3
- 5 percent of your RDI for vitamin B6
- 5 percent of your RDI for vitamin B5
And pecans are little mineral powerhouses. One ounce contains:
- 71 percent RDI of manganese
- 38 percent RDI of copper
- 19 percent RDI of molybdenum
- 16 percent RDI for zinc
- 11 percent RDI of magnesium
- 4 percent RDI for iron
- 3 percent RDI for potassium and selenium
- 2 percent RDI for calcium
And of course, no healthy food would be worth its salt without sufficient antioxidants (vitamin E, betacarotenes (vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin, ellagic acid) to help stave off cancer cell growth and the reign of free radicals, as well as fights infection and other diseases.
Bet you’re really looking forward to your next handful of pecans! Need some ideas on how to include more pecans into your diet? Here are a boatload of pecan recipes for you to enjoy.
Happy Pecan Day!