The pecan is a nut from a species of hickory trees native to northern Mexico and the Southern United States. The nut is a nutrition powerhouse loaded with vitamins and minerals.
What’s more, raw pecans are even cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and low in carbohydrates. With their rich, buttery flavor and natural sweetness, they make a tasty and satisfying snack.
Raw pecans pack a 1-2-3 punch of protein, healthy fats, and fiber that can help keep you energized and satisfied.
Pecans are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which help lower blood pressure.
Most of the fat found in pecans is a healthy type called monounsaturated fat. Eating foods with monounsaturated fat instead of foods high in saturated fats (like potato chips) can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Keeping your LDL cholesterol low cuts down your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Studies have shown that nuts can help prevent heart disease in people with diabetes. Snacking on an ounce of nuts when hungry helps you feel full, making it easier to avoid high-carb foods and keep blood sugars in check.
Pecans have a very low glycemic index, which means that eating them does not cause a spike in blood sugar, even in people with diabetes. Eating pecans can even offset the effects of higher glycemic index foods when eaten as part of the same meal.
Pecans also contain Omega-3 fats, which can help ease the pain of arthritis by reducing inflammation. The magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin E, and zinc in pecans also give the nuts anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc, which are all found in pecans, support your immune system so that your body can fight off infections and repair damage. Pecans also provide folate, which can guard against changes to your DNA that might otherwise lead to cancer.
Antioxidants can help protect the body from the cell damage that causes Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers. The USDA has ranked over 100 foods by antioxidant levels, and pecans made the top 20.
Pecans are rich in many vitamins and minerals important for healthy skin, eyes, teeth, bones, muscles, and nerves.
Nutrients per Serving
One ounce of raw pecans has:
- Calories: 196
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 20 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
Portion Sizes and Processing
Pecans are a great source of healthy fats but are high in calories, so it is important to watch your portion sizes. A serving of pecans is 1 ounce, which is a little less than ¼ cup or 19 pecan halves.
Roasted pecans sold as prepackaged snacks are often coated in unhealthy oils and sugar, adding empty calories. Be sure to read labels and choose raw pecans when possible.
How to Add Pecans to Your Diet
When you find yourself craving a crunchy snack, reach for a handful of pecans instead of potato chips. Prep several snack-size baggies with 19 pecan halves apiece so they are ready to go the next time you are hungry. Keep one in your backpack or purse for a healthy snack on the go.
Pecans are naturally sweet and make a good replacement for candies when sugar cravings hit. Sub raw pecan pieces in for chocolate chips, mixing them into pancake, muffin, or cookie dough. Add some crunch and protein to salads, oatmeal, quinoa, or yogurt by topping them with raw pecan pieces.