Pecans Provide Healthy Snack Alternative

If you’re looking for a satisfying snack that’s also healthy, try a handful of pecans.  These delicious, nutritious tree nuts will keep your stomach from growling – and, used wisely, keep it from growing.

Substituting about one ounce of pecans into your daily diet is a healthy alternative for many traditional snack foods, according to Beth Hubrich, R.D., a registered dietitian with the National Pecan Shellers Association.

“Pecans are a power-food that stays with you longer than some other higher carbohydrate snacks that your body burns through quickly,” Hubrich said.  Pecans provide that long-lasting energy because they contain heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats and the same amount of fiber as a medium-sized apple.

There’s no better time to start eating healthy by substituting pecans for other snack foods.  Here are a few suggestions from the National Pecan Shellers Association:

  • Instead of salty snacks, bring about 20 pecan halves to work to snack on throughout the day.  Pecans are naturally sodium-free.
  • For a mid-afternoon snack, try ½ cup of carrots with fat-free dressing and a handful of chopped pecans.
  • Sprinkle pecans on top of your yogurt and you’ll get more zinc – an important nutrient for proper growth and strong immunity.

Published research suggests that eating just a handful of pecans each day may help reduce your risk for developing heart disease.  Human health studies conducted at Loma Linda University over the past decade have consistently shown a link between eating pecans and a reduction in risk factors for heart disease.  The latest study, published earlier this year in The Journal of Nutrition, suggests that naturally-occurring Vitamin E (an antioxidant) in pecans may help contribute to heart disease prevention by increasing antioxidant-levels in the body and reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.  Antioxidants are nutrients found in foods that help protect against cell damage.