Pecans: Health Benefits and How-To

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

In honor of the holidays, here is a nut that we often associate with the decadent dishes of this time of year: pecans. Pecans are native to the United States, and the U.S. is one of the world’s main producers of this delectable nut. Pecans are grown across many states and can be found in many traditional dishes of the south, such as pecan pie.

Nutritional Tidbits for Pecans

1 oz of shelled pecans (approximately 20 halves) contains:

  • Calories: 196 calories
  • Fat: 20.4 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Glycemic Index: Low

Like many other nuts, pecans are rich in unsaturated fats: Over half of the fats in one serving are monounsaturated, and about 1/3 are polyunsaturated. Unsaturated fats are heart-healthy fats. Pecans also contain Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. In particular, Vitamin E appears to guard against lipid (fat) oxidation within the body and can help lower blood cholesterol levels. During our review for A Score Card for Nuts, we found that pecans have the highest ORAC (antioxidant capacity). In addition, pecans contain potassium, which is important in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Add to that some fiber, and you’ve got a tasty morsel packed with nutrients.

Choose plump nuts that have no obvious defects such as cracks, mold, or rot. Pecans that are bought still in the shell can be stored in a cool, dry place for 6 to 12 months. Shelled ones should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 9 months, or kept in the freezer, where they can keep well for a couple of years. Store pecans in an airtight container or a ziploc bag. If you have frozen pecans you plan to puree, let them thaw out first.

How to Get More Pecans in Your Diet

Tell Us: What’s your favorite way of eating pecans?

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