Being quarantined at home means a lot of us are snacking a little more often than usual. It can be a good thing, though — as long as we’re reaching for the right foods. Of all the snack options we have available to us, experts say that pecans can help us boost our health in more ways than one.
If you’re a fan of pecan pie, you’re in luck. Research has shown that pecans pack a powerful nutritional punch, especially for an aging body. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that they could be considered an anti-aging superfood.
Pecans can help fight premature skin aging because they contain ellagic acid, vitamin A (also known as retinol), and vitamin E which fight harmful free radicals that can damage skin cells. Ellagic acid is a plant compound that is said to help prevent chronic diseases, and it has shown to decrease inflammation as well as prevent the breakdown of collagen. That means it can help prevent wrinkles! Vitamin A or retinol is another antioxidant that’s found in many skin products because it has shown to stimulate the production of new skin cells. Similarly, vitamin E protects the skin from free-radical damage from harmful UV rays, leading to a more youthful glow.
Pecans might be a powerful anti-ager for the brain, too. Health experts suggest that this could be because of their high antioxidant content. Researchers from University of Massachusetts concluded that eating about a handful of pecans per day could help protect the nervous system and therefore, the brain. According to them, pecans are one of the most antioxidant-rich tree nuts of them all. As mentioned, antioxidants help protect against cell damage, and this also applies to brain cells. Other research backs this up, showing that antioxidants like vitamin E can help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
And if that weren’t enough to convince you, pecans may also help with diabetes management and prevention. How, you ask? Well, pecans are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats (oleic and linoleic acid) and fiber that have protective effects on cholesterol levels and blood sugar. One study found that subjects who ate a pecan-rich diet over the course of four weeks had improved insulin levels and lower insulin resistance. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that consuming pecans also significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ready to start adding pecans to your diet? Luckily, there are so many ways to do it As mentioned, a serving of about a handful of pecans per day will likely yield health benefits. Pecans are delicious chopped and sprinkled on top of salads, added to dishes like oatmeal, and baked into treats like pecan muffins. And of course, you can always enjoy them on their own as a healthy, satisfying snack. Need some more pecan inspiration? Check out this list of 21 different pecan-inspired recipes!