National Pecan Month: Celebrating the Health Benefits and Culinary Traditions

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pecansApril is National Pecan Month! Many of us remember picking pecans and shelling them. These nuts are delicious plain as a snack or prepared in culinary dishes, especially pies and desserts. Within this nut’s rich and buttery flavor there is also great nutritional value.

Research from the USDA confirms that pecans are still the most antioxidant-rich tree nut. According to the USDA, using a method called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers analyzed 277 different foods and found that pecans rank highest among all nuts in antioxidant capacity. With 17,940 ORAC units per 100 grams, pecans had the highest antioxidant capacity when compared to eight other common tree nuts. Overall, pecans rank in the top 20 in antioxidant capacity per typical serving size among the 277 foods analyzed in the study.

For pecan lovers, the health benefits of eating pecans are very exciting. Foods that contain antioxidants are shown to help fight a variety of diseases, such as, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. USDA, clinical research has shown that eating about a handful of pecans a day may help reduce the risk of heart disease, help lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss. Additionally, pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and contain no trans-fat.

For more information about pecans and pecan trees, please contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Union County Center at 704-283-3801.