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Family & Consumer Sciences

Cracking into Pecans

Melanie Ng

Did you know that Georgia grows a large amount of the nation’s pecans? Pecans are health-supporting, too! They are a rich source of antioxidants, healthy fats, and over 19 vitamins and minerals. We are nuts for pecans!

How are pecans grown?

Pecans are grown on big trees. One pecan tree can produce pecans for over 100 years! Many states in the Southern USA grow pecans. Pecan trees grow in natural groves or are planted in orchards. Both pecan groves and orchards make it possible for the USA to supply over 80-percent of the world’s pecans! [1]

The growing season for pecans goes from September until March, depending on the state and weather. However, today’s farming technology allows pecans to be sold year-round! [1] We can buy pecans from many small pecan farmers. A list of pecan farmers in each state can be found on the U.S. Pecans’ website. We can also make a trip to your closest store to pick up a bag of yummy pecans!  

 

Nutrition in a Nutshell

Pecans can be a great source of many healthy nutrients. That is why some pecan growers call these nuts, “Nutrition in a nutshell.” Let’s crack into pecans!

Pecans contain:

  1. High-quality protein, few carbohydrates, and lots of fiber! 
  2. The highest antioxidant content of any tree nut. Antioxidants are helpful for living a long, healthy life. 
  3. No cholesterol or sodium, and little saturated fat. 
  4. Instead, they contain lots of healthy fats: 
    • These fats help to lower cholesterol levels. 
    • One serving of pecans (just over ¼ cup) provides more oleic (oh-lay-ick) acid, a specific kind of healthy fat, than a tablespoon of olive oil! [2]
  5. More than 19 vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, B, and E, folate, calcium, zinc… 
    • And many more! They support healthy skin, a healthy immune system, digestion, and longevity! [3]

It’s no wonder that the American Heart Association says pecans are a “heart-healthy” food! [4] Just make sure to store pecans in the fridge or freezer. This is because their fat content makes them go bad faster. 

 

Our Pecan Picks

This nutritious nut has made its way into many UGA SNAP-Ed recipes! Try out one of these recipes to get the benefits of pecans:

colorful salad with bread, tomatoes, olives, greens, and pecans in a white bowl with a silver spoon

You might say the word “pecan” differently than your neighbors, but there is one thing we can all agree on: This little nut packs a punch of nutrition! 

 

Written by Melanie Ng, Ph.D. Student | Edited by Leslie Davis, MS, RD, LD, CDCES and the Nutrition Education Team 

Posted: April 5th, 2021

[1] U.S. Pecans – How Pecans are Grown

[2] U.S. Pecans – Pecans and Health

[3] Georgia Pecans – Nutrition Fact Sheet

[4] American Heart Association – Heart-Healthy Nuts


Previous articles on Family and Consumer Science topics

 
 

Fresh pecans in a brown bowlCracked pecans in a bowl -- ready to be served!
Green pecans in the shell on a tree branchYoung pecans on a tree.
Multi-colored salad featuring olives, tomatoes, pecans, and other food itemsSouthern Bread Salad with Pecans

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