The U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world’s pecan crop. There are more than 1,000 varieties of pecans with many of the varieties named for Native American tribes — Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee. They come in many shapes and sizes and can be incorporated into meals, snacks and more!
Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals. They are rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and multiple essential B-vitamins. Pecans also contain more antioxidants than any other nut. Amazingly, pecans offer an excellent source of high-quality protein with few carbs and no cholesterol. When you throw in the mix that pecans are a good fiber source, the health appeal grows stronger! A single ounce of pecans offers 10 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Being naturally low in sodium makes them an excellent healthy choice for those on restricted sodium diets.
Years of research have been dedicated to pecan’s health enhancing properties. Recently, a study looked at just adding pecans to the daily diet. The results published in Nutrients showed eating 1.5 ounces of pecans (small handful) may protect against developing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. The study found incorporating pecans into a typical American diet significantly improved insulin sensitivity. Additionally, pecans had a significant effect on markers of cardiometabolic disease. The study group was healthy, overweight and obese adults with excess belly fat.
Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found adding pecans to you diet may aid in weight loss and management. The nut consumption increased metabolic rates and enhanced satiety (feeling full and satisfied). The key is to remember a handful does it. More is not beneficial.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of pecans are acknowledged by the Food and Drug Administration as possible. Eating 1.5 ounces of pecans daily, as suggested in various studies, can affect cholesterol. This, along with being low in saturated fat and packed with beneficial nutrients, has earned pecans recognition from the American Heart Association.
If you are looking for a simple first step to improving health, adding pecans to your daily diet may be the right choice. Pecans have proven benefits to the cardiovascular system (heart and arteries) couple with reduced risk of developing metabolic disease such as Type 2 diabetes. Add to that the amount of essential nutrients to promote general health and you have a win-win situation!
Dr. Dianna Richardson has been serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities for more than 22 years. She has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for over 30 years. Core to her practice remains use of nutrition to improve health, vitality and quality of life. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master’s degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
PECAN CRUSTED SALMON WITH APPLE SLAW
½ cup maple syrup
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups matchstick cut granny smith apples
1 cup finely sliced fennel bulb
2 tablespoons olive oil divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
4 (4oz.) salmon filets
½ cup pecan meal
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In small saucepan, heat maple syrup, ½ cup chopped pecans bring to boil. Remove from heat; add ½ teaspoon salt & cayenne.
In medium bowl, combine apples, fennel, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. Season with remaining salt and 2 tablespoons of maple/pecan mixture.
Place salmon on foil lined tray. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of maple/pecan mixture over each filet. Top with 2 tablespoons each of pecan meal and remaining pecans. Drizzle with remaining oil and press into fish.
Place tray in oven and bake until flaky, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with apple slaw.