Pecans are a healthful, naturally low carbohydrate food that you can feel good about including in your daily carb-restricted diet. Whether for a snack or a meal, pecans provide many nutritional benefits that can nicely complement a carb-controlled diet, some of which are:
- CARB CONSCIOUS: Pecans are naturally low in carbohydrates…always have been, always will be. In fact, a handful of pecans (one ounce of pecans) contains only 4 grams of carbohydrates! That means that nutrient-dense pecans can add flavor, nutrition and disease-fighting properties to any diet that limits carbs.
- HIGH IN HEALTHY FAT: Pecans contain approximately 60 percentmonounsaturated fat and 30 percent polyunsaturated fat. This means that almost 90 percent of the fats (oils) in pecans are heart-healthy! Not only will these fats help curb your appetite, they can help protect your heart. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) felt there was enough evidence of nuts’ heart-healthy benefits that it approved the following health claim, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (including pecans), as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
- CAPABLE OF LOWERING CHOLESTEROL: Many low carb diets allow high-saturated foods, which are known to raise blood cholesterol levels. However, pecans contain an abundance of unsaturated fats, and studies have shown that pecans can help lower cholesterol levels. Pecans also contain plant components with antioxidant properties, which can slow the oxidation or “rusting” of LDL (bad) cholesterol. And, a recent study has confirmed that pecans also contain plant sterols, which have been in the news recently for their cholesterol-lowering ability.
- “NUT”RITION PACKED: It can be difficult to obtain all the nutrients you need when you follow a diet that severely restricts any nutrient (such as carbs). However, pecans provide a lot of nutritional bang for your buck—especially considering the few carbs that are present in pecans. Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc. Just one ounce of pecans (a handful or about 20 halves) has more zinc – an important nutrient for proper growth and strong immunity – than a 3.5-ounce piece of skinless chicken. Most good sources of zinc are foods of animal origin, but pecans offer an excellent plant-based source.
- PLENTIFUL IN PROTEIN: Pecans belong to the protein group in the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, along with meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dried beans – a group of foods that are naturally low in carbohydrates. Whether they are used as a meat alternative or as a snack, pecans provide a healthful source of needed protein, which is essential for proper body function.
- FIBER-FILLED: One ounce of pecans has about the same amount of fiber as a medium-sized apple, and provides 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for fiber. Fiber keeps you fuller longer and will keep your blood sugar steady (an important element to low-carb eating).
- WEIGHT CONTROL BENEFITS: Research suggests that pecans may help with weight control. One reason is their ability to help with satiety – which means that dieters and those looking to control their weight will stay fuller, longer after they eat pecans. Studies have also shown that consumers who eat nuts regularly are leaner than those who don’t eat nuts regularly, and suggest that nuts may increase the rate at which the body burns calories.
Here for some lower carb recipes with pecans: