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Ingredient Spotlight: Pecans

Thursday, 03 April 2014 01:31  by Emily S.

April is National Pecan Month, and what a wonderful super-food to celebrate this spring! Pecans have a long history in America. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson knew their importance; both presidents cultivated the pecan tree in their gardens. From California to North Carolina, pecans can be found locally coast-to-coast in the United States.

These nuts are versatile, nutritious and delicious! They are the perfect snack on the go, or a tasty ingredient!

One of pecans’ most note-worthy health features is the ability to reduce the risk of coronary diseases. The American Heart Association recently certified them as a heart healthy super food. Rich in beta-sitosterol, pecans are able to lower total bad cholesterol by up to 10%. They contain the most antioxidants out of all nuts and are sodium free.

All of the heart healthy benefits are also advantageous to mental health. Antioxidants found abundantly in pecans fight free radicals and reduce inflammation that can cause depression and stress. Pecans offer a hefty supply of vitamin E, which is shown to increase brain function as we age. Omega-3 fatty acids found in this nut help prevent depression and improve mental clarity. Magnesium is the fourth most copious element in the brain. A lack of magnesium can result in anxiety, depression and confusion. Even just a one-ounce serving of pecans supply the brain with nearly 10% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.

Pecans are extremely multifaceted. Although memorialized for the southern trademark, pecan pie, there are healthier ways to enjoy the buttery-sweet flavor. Full of protein, they can be eaten raw to provide a boost of energy throughout the day. Sprinkling pecans on top of a salad or used as a breading for chicken adds an extra crunch and delivers essential nutrients for healthy brain function!

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