Go nuts with your diet | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Go nuts with your diet

Want some nutrition in a nutshell? Pick up the “All American Nut” – the pecan.

Not only is this favorite nut tasty, but pecans also are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.

“Pecans are rated as the No. 1 nut with the highest antioxidant capacity,” said Michelle Price, Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers dietitian. “They are a lean source of protein and heart-healthy source of fat and high in fiber.”

Pecans are loaded with natural antioxidants. In fact, researchers found pecans have the most antioxidant capacity of any other nut, and nuts are among the top category of foods in terms of the highest antioxidant capacity.

Adding a handful of pecans to your diet each day may help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping to prevent heart disease. Researchers suggest this positive effect is in part due to the pecans’ significant content of vitamin E – a natural antioxidant.

Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.

One ounce of pecans provides 10 percent of the recommended daily value for fiber.

Pecans also are a natural, high-quality source of protein that contains very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol.

Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago found in laboratory tests that oleic acid has the ability to suppress the activity of a gene in cells thought to trigger breast cancer.

While this area of study is still in its early stages, the researchers say it could eventually translate into a recommendation to eat more foods rich in oleic acid, like pecans and olive oil.

“The recommended portion is one ounce per day, which is approximately the amount that would fit into the palm of your hand,” Price said. “They supply approximately 195 calories per ounce, so that is why you don’t want to go overboard.”

Pecans are traditionally associated with “holiday food.” However, pecans have many uses in our diet year-round as well.

“Pecans make an excellent topping for salads, hot and cold cereals, fruit and yogurt parfaits or make them into a snack mix with dry cereals, dry fruits, pretzels and pecans,” Price said.

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