Pecans are a nutritional powerhouse, providing healthy fats and protein, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals including iron, copper, and a significant amount of manganese.
Iron and copper are essential to many processes in the body, but most famously work in tandem to provide a robust blood supply to transport nutrients throughout the body.
Copper aids in the absorption of iron and iron is vital in the production of red blood cells.
Manganese supports many important functions in the body including antioxidant function, bone development, connective tissue formation, wound healing, and the metabolism of cholesterol, amino acids, and carbohydrates.
If that’s not enough to peak your pecan craving, they are also a good source of a phytonutrient called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid has received recent attention for its potential antitumor effects in animal and cell studies. These effects are most directly linked to its inhibitory effect on cancer cell’s ability to grow as well as to increase death of cancer cells, a process known as apoptosis. As with many other nuts adding pecans to a whole foods-based diet can help to reduce your risk of cancer.
Pecans can be a great way to add calories if you need more energy-dense foods in your diet. However, if you aren’t looking to add calories, you can use pecans to replace snacks that may provide similar calorie counts without nearly as much nutritional value.
If you have the time and energy, buying unshelled nuts can save money, and pecans happen to be one of the easiest nuts to crack open. When buying unshelled nuts, make sure the shell is not cracked and that the pecans do not rattle inside, a sign they could be old. If you prefer to buy shelled pecans, to ensure freshness, always buy them from a store with high foot traffic. When you get them home, store them in the fridge or freezer, as they will quickly turn rancid if stored at room temperature.
Pecans are a great snack, but they are also an important component of many of our favorite recipes. They are a great alternative for those who are allergic to walnuts.
Pecans can be used as a topping for any salad, but they’re perfect toasted atop our Warm Beet & Greens Salad. On the sweeter side, we use them to make a nutritionally packed pie crust, and in our delightful Cherry Pecan Dark Chocolate Brownies.
Not to mention, you can sprinkle them on your morning oatmeal or quinoa for a protein-rich breakfast.