Chances are, you don’t really think about pecans at very often—unless it’s the holiday season and you’re baking them into a pie. (Or they end up as one of the ingredients in packet of trail mix you buy at the store.) They definitely don’t receive the same amount of love as almonds, aka the most popular nut milk. So what’s the deal? Are pecans good for you? The answer is a resounding yes. These nuts boast a bevy of health benefits.
“Pecans are nutrient-packed and contain a variety of vitamins,” says Neda Varbanova, certified culinary nutritionist, holistic health coach, and founder of Healthy with Nedi. The nutritional breakdown reads kind of like a multivitamin: They’re packed with B vitamins, folic acid, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and E.
Below, Verbanova breaks down the benefits of pecans, and why they’re worth a place in your pantry.
1. They’re lower in carbs than other nuts. If you follow the ketogenic diet, then you know that nuts, while high in healthy fats, count toward your meticulously calculated carb count. Varbanova says that pecans are lower in carbs that a lot of other nuts (they clock in at around four grams per one-ounce serving). To put that in perspective, almonds have six grams of carbs per one-ounce serving, and cashews contain nine grams.
2. They help support your immune system and fight inflammation. “Boost your immune system” and “fight inflammation” are buzz phrases you hear a lot in the wellness world, but pecans actually deliver. “The high amount of zinc in pecans helps support your immune system,” Varbanova says. Since your immune system is the thing that keeps your body humming along disease-free, that’s definitely a pro. Zinc is also a powerful antioxidant, which means it fights free radicals (bad-guy molecules that cause oxidative stress) and can help reduce inflammation.
3. They make your heart healthier. “Pecans are packed with monounsaturated fats that are crucial for heart health,” Varbanova says. In addition to these good fats, pecans are a smorgasbord of antioxidants, including gamma-tocopherols. This heart health-boosting form of vitamin E has been shown to help decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body—specifically after people ate pecans.
4. They can help boost your memory. These memory-boosting nuts are chock-full of vitamin E, a crucial nutrient for your brain. “Studies have shown that a diet high in vitamin E can fight inflammation and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s,” Varbanova says. Additionally, another study linked poor memory to brain inflammation brought on by stress—so the inflammation-reducing properties of vitamin E can also help your brain function more optimally.
Reap the nutritional benefits of nutrient-dense nuts with these three pecan-centric recipes.
Pecans and pumpkins go hand-in-hand. This ultimate fall breakfast is made with gluten-free rolled oats, pumpkin puree, almond-coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and—you guessed it—pecans.
Pecan pie is notoriously delicious… and notoriously packed with refined sugar. These bars get their sweetness from medjool dates—which won’t spike your blood sugar—and feature pecans in both the crust and the filling. Get you a nut that can do both.
For a savory pecan experience, let us present this healthy side dish. It’s only seven ingredients, and the most complicated part of the recipe is cutting the Brussels sprouts into even pieces.
Speaking of nuts, here are 7 things your probably didn’t know about them (like that pistachios are actually a fruit!). Also, is there such a thing as too much nut butter? (We hope not.)
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