Pass the Pecans, Please!


Nuts are big in nutrition right now. We hear a lot about how great almonds, walnuts, and even pistachios are for us. Pecans are usually relegated to the back of the line. But not anymore. March 25 was National Pecan Day (also International Waffle Day, but we won’t go there), although National Pecan Month is in April. I guess it means you get two opportunities to celebrate pecans!

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A Bit of Pecan History
Pecans belong to the hickory family and are the only native American tree nut. The word “pecan” is a Native American word that means “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.” That would be about right since these nuts can be tricky to crack open. The first US plantings of pecans happened on Long Island in 1772. Our friends George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had pecan trees in their gardens. The pecan industry blossomed in the early 1800’s but really took off in the 1880’s in Louisiana and Texas, thanks to grafting techniques. Pecans have since grown in popularity and in 2007, more than 400 million pounds of pecans were produced.

Pecan Power
As with most nuts, pecans can definitely be part of your eating plan (unless you’re allergic, of course). Here’s the low-down on what they have to offer:

What the Research Says
OK, so pecans are full of good nutrition. But why would you want to eat these nuts over, say, walnuts or almonds? You don’t really have to choose one nut over the other, since they all offer health benefits. The point is to eat a variety of nuts. The information on pecans is “evidenced-based,” meaning that these nuts have proven health benefits, including:

I could go on, but I think you probably get the message: Eating pecans is good for you!

Placing Pecans Your Meal Plan

Endnotes:
  1. antioxidant: http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Articles/Alternative-Medicine-Complementary-Therapies/antioxidants/

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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