Behold, the Pecan! The second most popular nut in America has been eaten and enjoyed by Native Americans for eons. Pecan nuts come from large deciduous trees related to the hickory family. The trees are native to the central and southern parts of the country though now are grown worldwide. The raw nuts are harvested usually from October through December, then dehydrated for storage.
Central Texas is most likely the pecan capital of the world with more than 70 million wild pecan trees. Texans love their pecans so much that they named it their state tree back in 1919.
Besides their delectable buttery taste, pecans are a rich source of protein so it doesn’t take many of them to get all the benefits they have to offer. Check out our list of the top health benefits you can get from this wonderful little nut. As an added bonus, we have a really delicious pecan smoothie recipe for you to try at the end of the article.
1. High in Antioxidants
Pecans are high in monounsaturated fatty acids and are an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants. Adding pecans to your diet will give you plenty of ellagic acid, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamin E, all of which remove free radicals and protect the body from the signs of early aging as well as protect you from chronic diseases and infections. Find out other antioxindats rich foods.
2. Great Source of Energy
If you are looking for a healthy snack in the afternoon, you can’t beat a couple handfuls of pecans. They are loaded with healthy minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and a big dose of protein to keep you going without heading to the vending machine for candy or a sugary energy drink.
3. Lowers Cholesterol
Pecans can help decrease your overall cholesterol levels, especially the “bad” LDL levels. Multiple research studies suggest that eating a Mediterranean diet, which tends to be high in monounsaturated fatty acids; can help to prevent heart disease and strokes by improving blood lipid profiles.
4. Treasure Chest of Vitamins and Minerals
Pecans have so many healthy vitamins and minerals; it’s hard to list them all in one place! Let’s start with vitamin E, all the B complex vitamins such as B6, folates, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, potassium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, copper, zinc, and iron! Whew! There are not too many foods in this world with that much nutrition packed into such as tiny package!
5. Disease and Cancer Protection
Due to its high levels of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins, pecans can actually give you protection from cancer. Other studies show that eating a handful of pecans regularly can protect your nervous system from motor neuron degeneration, which means you can get protection from ALS, and Lou Gehrig’s disease, even Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Perfect Pecan Smoothie Recipe
• 1.5 Cups of Greek yogurt
• 2 Large organic ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
• 1 Cup of ice
• ½ Cup finely chopped pecans ( no salt)
• ½ Cup milk of your choice
• 1 Tablespoon raw, organic honey
• ½ Teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Place everything in the order given in your blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.