The dietary guidelines recommend that the average American should eat 5 ½ servings from the “Meat and Beans” group each day. Pecans are included in this group because they contain approximately the same amount of protein and nutrients as meat, poultry, fish, beans, and seeds. Eating 1 ounce of pecans (or about 20 halves) equals 2 servings from the meat and bean group and 2 tsp of oil, leaving you with about 3 servings of meat and 4 teaspoons of oil left each day.

Not only do pecans add flavor and help keep you fuller longer, they are good for your heart. The Food and Drug Administration released one of the first qualified health claims about nuts and heart disease in 2003; “scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (such as pecans) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” That means that if you eat 1.5 ounces of pecans a day, you will be getting half your allotted fat from a heart-healthy source while still staying within the recommended total fat and saturated fat intake per day. That’s news to go nuts over!

One-day on the Pyramid

(Based on a 2,000 calorie diet which provides the equivalent of 2 cups fruit, 2.5 cups vegetables, 6 ounces grains, 5.5 ounces meat/beans, 3 cups milk and 6 tsp oil)

1 cup whole grain cereal with 10 pecan halves and 1 large banana
½ cup orange juice
1 cup coffee with non-dairy creamer and low calorie sweetener

Mid-Morning Snack
1 cup fruit-flavored yogurt

Black beans and rice with sour cream and onions
1 cup brown rice
½ cup black beans
1 Tbsp low-fat sour cream
½ cup chopped onions 1 piece of whole wheat bread with 1 tsp. Trans-free margarine

Mid-Afternoon Snack
½ cup carrots with fat-free dressing
10 pecan halves

4 oz. pork chop
1 cup Romaine with 5 pecan halves, 1 tomato, 1/3 C shredded cheese with 1 tsp olive oil and vinegar
½ cup cooked greens (spinach, mustard greens, turnips)
1 whole-wheat roll
1 tsp trans-free margarine

1 cup low-fat ice cream with ½ cup fresh strawberries and 5 pecan halves