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Almond BrothersPecans... a Delightful Treat and Oh So Versatile

April is National Pecan Month – a time to celebrate the "All American Nut" for its delicious taste and numerous health benefits.   Pecans are the only tree nut indigenous to North America, and they have quite a history on this continent.  In recent years, research has shown pecans are also a great natural source of antioxidants (vitamin E), fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals. 

 

Fun Facts

  • Pecans could improve your love life. If the body does not get enough zinc, it may have difficulty producing testosterone – a key hormone in initiating sexual desire in both men and women.  Pecans provide nearly 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for zinc.  So, pass on the oysters and reach for a handful of pecans!
  • Pecans come in a variety of sizes – mammoth, extra large, large, medium, small and midget.  They also come in several forms including whole pecans, pecan halves, pieces, granules and meal.
  • There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans.  Many are named for Native American Indian tribes, including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee.
  • It takes a magnificent tree to produce a great-tasting nut.  Pecan trees usually range in height from 70 to 100 feet, but some trees grow as tall as 150 feet or higher.  Native pecan trees – those over 150 years old – have trunks more than three feet in diameter.
  • Can you imagine a pecan skyscraper?  It would take 11,624 pecans, stacked end to end, to reach the top of the Empire State Building in New York City.
  • Some of the larger pecan shellers process 150,000 pounds of pecans each day. That’s enough to make 300,000 pecan pies!

 

Tips for Buying, Using and Storing Pecans

To keep pecans fresh and flavorful, follow these buying and storage guidelines:

  • When buying pecans, look for plump pecans that are uniform in color and size.
  • Shelled pecans can be kept in the refrigerator for about nine months and for up to two years in the freezer.
  • Pecans can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly during the two-year freezing period without loss of flavor or texture.
  • Airtight containers, such as jars with lids, are best for storing pecans in the refrigerator.
  • Sealed plastic bags are best for storing pecans in the freezer. 
  • In-shell pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for six to 12 months.
  • After removal from cold storage, pecans will stay good for an additional two months.

USDA: Pecans Still #1 for Antioxidants Among All Nuts

Celebrate National Pecan Month with a Healthy Handful of the All-American Nut

ATLANTA (March 18, 2008) –April is National Pecan Month, and there’s never been a better reason to celebrate.  The latest research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms pecans are still the most antioxidant-rich tree nut and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity.  Using a method called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers analyzed 277 different foods and found that pecans rank highest among all nuts in antioxidant capacity.  With 17,940 ORAC units per 100 grams, pecans had the highest antioxidant capacity when compared to eight other common tree nuts.  Overall, pecans rank in the top 20 in antioxidant capacity per typical serving size among the 277 foods analyzed in the study.

Antioxidants are substances found in foods that protect against cell damage and, studies have shown, can help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease.  Findings from the USDA study were released November 6.  The USDA study was a follow up to a 2004 research project, which first showed pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut.  To access the new USDA antioxidants database, visit http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15866.

Clinical research studies have also confirmed eating about a handful of pecans each day may help reduce the risk of heart disease, help lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss.  In addition, pecans are loaded with more than 19 vitamins and minerals, heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and contain no trans fat.  For more information on the health benefits of pecans, visit http://www.ilovepecans.org/nutrition.html.

Work Pecans in to Your Diet
To include more heart-healthy, antioxidant-rich pecans in your diet, try sprinkling them on pancakes or waffles, in fruit-flavored yogurt, or on top of hot or cold cereal.  Try topping salads or veggies with pecans instead of cheese.  Or, try coating chicken or fish with pecans before baking.  And you can always add them to your favorite brownie or cookie recipe for a treat every now and then. 
 
Thank you to the National Pecan Shellers Association for the authorization to use their information.  For more information on the nutritional value of pecans, the history of pecans and the pecan industry in the U.S., visit www.ilovepecans.org.


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