Like all tree nuts, pecans are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals beneficial to health. Regularly eating nuts has been shown to contribute to heart health, reduce overall mortality and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, assist with weight management, reduce the risk of cancer, improve sperm quality, reduce depression and overall promote good health. 

A 30g serve is around 15 pecans.

Nutrient Per 100g Per 30g
energy
Energy (kJ) 2973 892
macronutrients
Protein (g) 9.8 2.9
Total fat (g) 71.9 21.6
Saturated fat (g) 4.5 1.4
Monounsaturated fat (g) 39.3 11.8
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 25 7.5
Omega 3 ALA 620 186
Carbohydrate (g) 4.9 1.5
Sugars (g) 4.3 1.3
Dietary fibre (g) 8.4 2.5
minerals
Calcium (mg) 51 15.3
Copper (mg) 0.4 0.12
Iron (mg) 2.4 0.72
Magnesium (mg) 110 33
Manganese (mg) 5.1 1.53
Potassium (mg) 500 150
Selenium (ug) 2 0.6
Sodium (mg) 3 0.9
Zinc (mg) 3.9 1.17
vitamins
Thiamin (mg) 0.4 0.12
Riboflavin (mg) 0.2 0.06
Niacin (mg eq) 3.6 1.08
Folate DFE (ug) 22 6.6
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.3 0.09
Vitamin E (mg) 5.6 1.68
other
Arginine (g) 1.2 0.36
Sterols (mg) 159 48
Polyphenols (mg) 2016 605

Health effects

In addition to the health benefits that all tree nuts provide, pecans have been associated with: 

  • A highly consistent favourable effect for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides [1].
  • Clinically significant reductions in insulin resistance and fasting insulin in overweight or obese adults with a 45g serve daily for 4 weeks [2].

What makes pecans unique

  • Pecans are one of the few plant sources of omega-3 fats. Plant omega-3 known as ALA plays an important role in heart health. Pecans also contain manganese – an important mineral for activating enzymes. 
  • Pecans are rich in polyphenols, a diverse group of compounds that act as powerful antioxidants, protecting the body’s tissues from damage caused by oxidation. 
  • Pecans contain both mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, with a slightly higher proportion of monounsaturated fat – important for heart health.
  • Pecans are a source of monounsaturated fat and fibre, and are naturally low in sugar and sodium.
  • They are a source of magnesium, thiamin and vitamin E and are high in manganese. 

Where they are grown

Well known as a native American nut, the majority of Australian pecans are grown in the Gwydir Valley, east of Moree in northern inland New South Wales. Smaller scale production extends from the Hunter Valley and Nelsons Bay on the NSW Central Coast to the Mid North Coast near Kempsey and the North Coast around Lismore. Orchards can also be found in Queensland at Mundubbera and Eidsvold in the south east in the Lockyer Valley and south to the NSW border.   Smaller plantings also exist in South Australia and Western Australia. Pecans are also grown in the USA, Mexico and South Africa.

Forms and best eaten with…

  • Pecans can be purchased in shell, or as raw kernels.
  • Pecans are probably best known as a key ingredient in pecan pie.
  • They make great additions to salads, and can add fibre and crunch to baked goods like muffins and cakes.
  • Pecans also make interesting pesto – blend pecans with basil, parmesan, garlic and olive oil.  

Storage

Remove nuts from plastic bags and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Nuts can be refrigerated for up to 4 months and frozen for up to 6 months. Remember, bringing nuts back to room temperature before eating can help them taste nuttier.

References

  1. Neale, E., et al., The effect of nut consumption on heart health: an updated systematic review of the literature. 2018. Nuts for Life, unpublished.
  2. McKay, D.L., et al., A Pecan-Rich Diet Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 2018. 10(3).
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