Pecans are fruits that have recently entered the market and are often confused with traditional walnuts. Let’s see their properties, the benefits for our health and how to use them.
Despite the name, pecans are quite different from traditional walnuts . They are the fruit of a plant (Carya illinoensis) native to South America, in particular from Mexico, then also widespread in Brazil and Australia where it finds favorable climatic conditions for its growth.
These are very large trees and the fruit is enclosed in a very hard shell and is eaten dried. Consuming pecans offers several health benefits. Let’s see below the nutritional properties of this dried fruit.
Pecans: calories and nutritional properties
Pecans, like all dried fruit, are highly caloric foods, they contain about 720 kcal per 100 grams and are particularly rich in fats, most of which are monounsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid, therefore fats ” good ”for our health. In fact, lipids represent about 70% of the nutrients contained in pecans, followed by carbohydrates (about 8%) and proteins (about 7%).
The fiber content is also considerable, as well as that of mineral salts (in particular iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and zinc) and vitamins, in particular those of group B and vitamin E.
Nutritional values per 100g of pecans:
- Kcal: 723
- Carbohydrates: 7.9 g
- Fat: 71.8 g
- Proteins: 7.2 g
- Fibers: 9.4 g
- Waterfall: 5 g
- Iron: 2.1 mg
- Soccer: 83 mg
- Sodium: 2 mg
- Potassium: 368 mg
- Phosphorus: 380 mg
- Zinc: 2.7 mg
- Magnesium: 131 mg
- Copper: 1.5 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.45 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.10 mg
- Vitamin B3: 1.9 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.19 mg
- Vitamin E: 3 mg
- Vitamin K: 3.5 mg
Pecans: the health benefits
The unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, proteins, minerals and vitamins that pecans contain make them foods rich in benefits for our health. Let’s see in detail the beneficial properties of pecans and how they contribute to our well-being.
✓ Help to control blood sugar
Pecans can be a valuable aid in controlling blood glucose levels, a study shows that replacing part of the daily calories made by carbohydrates with those made by walnuts helps to reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
✓ Help reduce cholesterol levels
The high content of unsaturated fatty acids in pecans makes them able to reduce cardiovascular risk by helping to lower blood cholesterol levels and generally improve the lipid profile, probably due to the phytosterols present in pecans.
✓ They are energizing
With their approximately 700 calories per 100 grams, pecans have energizing properties and are well suited to the diet of the weak and weak, for example due to a strong period of stress or due to an illness, as they are a ready source energy. They are also great for recovering strength after intense physical exertion.
✓ Rich in antioxidants
Pecans are rich in phenolic compounds and flavonoids, antioxidant molecules that protect us from free radicals, which cause cellular aging, helping us to fight inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
✓ They help the intestine
Pecan nuts, both because they are rich in oils and because they are rich in fiber, help intestinal motility and correct evacuation, promoting intestinal well-being. Moreover, thanks to the phenolic compounds, they also have a mild antimicrobial action.
✓ Ally of bones and hair
By eating pecans we also get full of mineral salts, such as copper and zinc, useful for our bones, and of oils and vitamins, in particular vitamin E, which nourish and protect our hair and our skin.
Pecans: how many to eat
Now let’s see how many pecans to eat per day. Like all dried fruit, a recommended portion of pecans is equivalent to about 20-30 grams and can be consumed several times a week, as a substitute for other dried fruit (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.). However, this quantity will have to be reduced in the case of low-calorie diets, based on subjective needs.
What do pecans taste like?
Pecans have a different taste than traditional walnuts. Specifically, these fruits tend to have a sweetish, aromatic and rather buttery taste, so they lend themselves well to being eaten as a snack or to various types of preparations in the kitchen, both sweet and savory.
Pecans: how to eat them and practical advice for using them
These nuts have a similar appearance to traditional walnuts, but have a more elongated shape, are darker and their shell is smooth. In reality it is easier to find them on the market already shelled and ready to eat, sometimes caramelized.
It is possible to eat them plain as they have a very pleasant taste, however, as mentioned, they are often caramelized with sugar or honey. They are a tasty and energetic snack to eat as a snack or after physical activity, so if you want to pay attention to physical fitness, it will be better not to eat them at the end of a meal, as is often and wrongly done with dried fruit.
They are excellent for breakfast, added to yogurt or with oatmeal or simple whole grains.
Alternatively, we can prepare energy bars at home to eat for breakfast or for a delicious snack: just mix oat flakes, chopped pecans, raisins or pieces of dark chocolate by tying everything with honey. The mixture thus obtained will be distributed in an oven pan in order to cook 10-15 minutes and once cooled, the bars can be cut, to be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.
Given their oily texture and their buttery flavor, these nuts lend themselves very well to making tasty desserts, in fact we can use them to enrich simple homemade desserts such as sponge cake, muffins or plum cakes. A great classic of American pastry is the pecan pie, a pastry covered with glazed walnuts, a real treat but also a calorie bomb!
If, on the other hand, we love savory preparations more, we can indulge ourselves from the simplest of dishes, that is a rich salad of vegetables and cereals in which we will add our walnuts, to more elaborate dishes such as pasta dishes dressed with vegetable and nut sauces, focaccia savory or main courses of meat and fish. We can also experiment with them in addition or in place of pine nuts in the classic pesto.
If we have stocked up on pecans, we can keep them in airtight containers, to be put in the refrigerator, since, given the richness in fats, they can easily deteriorate.
Contraindications of pecans
The contraindications of pecans refer primarily to the fact that they are very caloric, so overweight people should pay attention to the quantities and in any case not eat them every day. Furthermore, as well as other dry and oily fruits, they could trigger adverse reactions in allergic subjects. Beware of consumption in case of gastritis as dried fruit (due to the high fat content) can cause episodes of gastric acidity. Also pay attention if you have a nickel allergy.
Pecans: where to buy them
Pecans can be found in organic or ethnic food stores or online and their price is quite high, but since, as we have seen, they are particularly energetic, it will be sufficient to buy small quantities at a time. On average, a 100 gram pack costs around 10 to 15 USD, depending on the manufacturer.