Pecans are now more accessible than ever before. You’ll find heart-healthy pecans at your favorite grocery store or local farmer’s market. Restaurants now feature a variety of menu items with pecans, from healthy selections such as salads from Wendy’s, chicken salad sandwiches at Arby’s, desserts at Outback Steakhouse and Baskin Robbins’ ice cream flavor, Pralines ‘N Cream, their #1 seller.
Since 2012, select pecans have been designated as heart-healthy when enjoyed as part of a healthy eating pattern by the American Heart Association®’s Heart-Check Certification Program (www.heartcheckmark.org). Unroasted and unsalted pecan halves and pieces carry the Heart-Check mark to inform consumers that they meet the program’s nutritional guidelines including criteria for saturated fat and sodium.
The American Heart Association®’s Heart-Check Food Certification Program helps grocery shoppers quickly and easily identify heart-healthy foods that can be incorporated into a sensible eating pattern. In order to be certified, nuts must meet certain nutritional requirements for saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and beneficial nutrients. Today, the red and white heart-healthy symbol has become the one of the most trusted and well-known nutrition icons representing heart-healthy eating.
A one-ounce serving of pecans (approximately 20 halves) contains 196 calories, 20.4 grams total fat (1.8 saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 0 grams sodium, 2.7 grams dietary fiber and over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and zinc. Pecans are also a good source of oleic acid, vitamin B1, thiamin, magnesium and protein.
A review of pecan and other nut research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2003), suggests that nuts like pecans may aid in weight loss and maintenance. The review cited studies indicating that nut consumption may increase metabolic rates and enhance satiety. When used in conjunction with a healthy low-fat diet, nuts also offer increased flavor, palatability and texture that can lead to greater dietary compliance, according to the review.
Noted Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD, nutrition expert, award winning food writer, television personality and registered dietitian.
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