Nuts, in general, are healthy for you (as long as they don’t have lots of sea salt, sugar, etc. covering them).
However, according to recent research, it looks as though the pecan may stand out among the nut world as a way to help protect your heart.
Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging sought to study the specific cardiovascular effects that pecans can deliver.
To do this, they began studying a group of 26 men and women, who were either obese or overweight but otherwise healthy.
They spent 4 weeks on a control diet, and then an additional 4 weeks on roughly the same diet with the inclusion of pecans. The purpose was to study the pecan’s effects in isolation.
In both diets, the amounts of fruit, vegetables, and fiber were low. Total calorie, fats, and carb levels were the same in both diets.
The pecans made up for about 15 percent of the calories from the previous diet, replacing a portion of the previous diet’s saturated fats.
When studying the results, the researchers made an interesting discovery. According to Medical News Today:
“It was found that the addition of pecans to the participants’ diets improved insulin sensitivity. Also, there was a positive impact on other markers of cardiometabolic disease — namely, changes in serum insulin and the function of beta cells, which store and release insulin.
“Pecans are naturally high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, so replacing a portion of the saturated fat in the diet with these healthier fats can explain some of the cardioprotective effects we observed.”
– Lead researcher Diane McKay, Ph.D.
“She goes on, “But, pecans also contain a number of bioactive plant compounds as well as vitamins and essential minerals that all likely contributed to this benefit. What’s really interesting is that just one small change — eating a handful of pecans daily — may have a large impact on the health of these at-risk adults.”
Although these results are very encouraging, further studies will need to be done before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
However, if further testing confirms these heart-healthy benefits to be conclusive, pecans can be a natural, beneficial weight loss intervention.