Researchers Suggest Nuts Be Given Better “Position” on Food Guide Pyramid

Pecans lovers can take great comfort in findings from the latest dietary recommendations released September 5 by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report states that to help meet the body’s daily energy and nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45-65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 20-35 percent from fat, and 10-35 percent from protein.

When it comes to pecans, this is excellent news since the range for fat intake is higher than the previous recommendations that total fat intake be kept at 30 percent of calories or less. While it is critical to keep fat consumption in check, foods that contain unsaturated fat (e.g., pecans) are cited in the report as being preferable to foods high in saturated fats. The report emphasizes the importance of keeping intake of saturated fat and cholesterol “as low as possible.”

Fat in the diet is essential for various bodily functions, and foods like pecans can help provide a source of the most important unsaturated fats. As noted in the IOM report, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats acids reduce blood cholesterol levels and thus lower the risk of heart disease when they replace saturated fats in the diet.

“Nearly 60 percent of the fat found in pecans is monounsaturated fat and approximately another 30 percent is polyunsaturated fat, leaving very little saturated fat in pecans,” says Sue Taylor, R.D. director of nutrition communications for the National Pecan Shellers Association. Pecans also contain fiber and over 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, several B vitamins and zinc, Taylor said

To demonstrate that pecans can play a role in a heart-healthy diet, clinical researchhas confirmed that pecans can significantly help lower blood cholesterol when consumed as part of a heart-healthy diet.

For more information about the IOM report, go to