A professor of food science from the University of Georgia informed hundreds of food technologists about health benefits associated with eating a diet rich in pecans at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL on June 26. Dr. Ronald Eitenmiller’s symposium covered a wide range of pecan findings based on clinical studies conducted over the past six years.
Dr. Eitenmiller cited results from a 2001 study out of Loma Linda University (Rajaram S., et al) that found adding just a handful of pecans to a traditional low-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet can have dramatic results on the diet’s effectiveness. Loma Linda study participants that were on the pecan-enriched diet lowered their total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol twice as much as they did when they ate the American Heart Association (AHA) Step I diet. In addition, the research found that the pecan-enriched diet lowered blood triglyceride levels and helped maintain desirable levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol compared to the Step I diet, which often unfavorably raises triglycerides and usually lowers HDL levels, said Eitenmiller.
Dr. Eitenmiller also cited the results of a 2000 study (Morgan W.A. and Clayshulte, B.J.) that found test participants with normal lipid levels who ate 68 grams of pecans per day for eight weeks showed significant decreases in LDL, HDL and total cholesterol due to their significantly higher levels of dietary fat, energy, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, insoluble fiber and magnesium as compared to the control diet. In addition, body mass and body weights were unchanged during both treatments. Therefore, the results of this study show pecans can be included in a healthful diet, said Eitenmiller.
The Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting is attended by an international contingent of food professionals specializing in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia and government.
The National Pecan Shellers Association (NPSA), a non-profit trade association, is committed to educating culinary and health professionals, food technologists and the general public about the nutritional benefits, variety of uses and all-around great taste of pecans.
Morgan, W.A. and Clayshulte, B.J. Pecans lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in people with normal lipid levels. J. Am. Diet Assoc., 100, 312, 2000. Rajaram, S., Burke, K., Connell, B., Myint, T., and Sabate, J. A monounsaturated fatty acid-rich pecan-enriched diet favorably alters the serum lipid profile of healthy men and women, J. Nutr., 131, 2275, 2001