Pecan Storage Tips

TEMPERATURE IN-SHELL SHELLED
70° (pantry) 4 months 3 months
40° (refrigerator) 9-18 months 6 months
0° (freezer) 2 years 2 years

Quick Facts about Pecans

  • Several studies have shown that blood cholesterol levels can be lowered when pecans are incorporated into the diet.
  • Pecans contain plant components with antioxidant properties, which can slow the oxidation or "rusting" of LDL (low-density lipoproteins), otherwise known as bad cholesterol.
  • University research has confirmed that pecans also contain plant sterols, which have been in the news recently for their cholesterol-lowering ability.
  • Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins, and zinc.
  • Pecans are heart-healthy! Over half the fat (56%) found in pecans is monounsaturated fat and another 29% is polyunsaturated fat.
  • Pecans are cholesterol-free!
  • Pecans are naturally sodium-free, making them an excellent choice for those on a salt or sodium restricted diet!

Antioxidant-Rich Pecans

New research, published in the August 2006 issue of Nutrition Research, shows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may be help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping prevent heart disease.  The researchers suggest that this positive effect was in part due to the pecan's significant content of vitamin E—an antioxidant.  Pecans contain different forms of vitamin E, which protects blood lipids from oxidation. Oxidation of lipids in the body—a process akin to rusting—is detrimental to health.  When the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol becomes oxidized, it is more likely to build up and result in clogged arteries.

In the laboratory analysis of blood samples from the research subjects, Dr. Haddad’s team found that the pecan-enriched diets significantly reduced lipid oxidation (by 7.4%) versus the Step I diet. Oxidation levels were evaluated using the TBARS test, which measures oxidation products. The researchers also found that blood levels of tocopherols were higher after participants were on the pecan diet. Cholesterol-adjusted plasma gamma-tocopherol in the study participants' blood samples increased by 10.1& (P < .001) after eating the pecan diet. The researchers concluded that these data provide some evidence for potential protective effects of pecan consumption in healthy individuals.

In addition, landmark research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (June 2004) found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity, meaning pecans may decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimers.

Using a method that has proven to be a good indicator of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of foods called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers measured the antioxidant capacity of nuts among 100 commonly consumed foods, including different types of nuts, and determined pecans have more antioxidant capacity than walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, and cashews.

Numerous other studies have also shown that phytochemicals, like those found in pecans, act like antioxidants and may have a protective effect against certain diseases, such as various cancers and heart disease.

Cholesterol-Lowering Pecans

Pecans also play a role in lowering cholesterol. Clinical research published in the Journal of Nutrition (September 2001) compared the Step I diet (28% fat), recommended by the American Heart Association for individuals with high cholesterol levels, to a pecan-enriched (40% fat) diet. The results showed the pecan-enriched diet lowered total cholesterol by 11.3% and LDL "bad" cholesterol levels by 16.5%—twice that of the Step I diet, without any associated weight gain.

Research conducted by Dr. Ronald Eitenmiller at the University of Georgia has also confirmed that pecans contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability.

Scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces per day of pecans may reduce the risk of heart diseaseThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged this and related research and approved the following qualified health claim:

"Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Weight Control and Pecans

A review of pecan and other nut research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2003), suggests that nuts like pecans may aid in weight loss and maintenance. The review cited studies indicating that nut consumption may increase metabolic rates and enhance satiety.

When used in conjunction with a low-fat diet, nuts also offer increased flavor, palatability and texture that can lead to greater dietary compliance, according to the review.

Heart-Healthy Pecans

Nearly 60% of the fats in pecans are monounsaturated and another 30 percent are polyunsaturated, leaving very little saturated fat in pecans. The unsaturated fat in pecans is heart-healthy fat meeting the new Dietary Guidelines that recommend Americans keep intake between 20% - 35% of calories, with most fats coming from heart-healthy sources like fish, nuts and vegetable oils. In addition, pecans contain no trans fat.

Nutrient-Dense Pecans

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% of the recommended Daily Value for fiber.

Pecans are also a natural, high-quality source of protein that contain very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol. Pecans are also naturally sodium-free, making them an excellent choice for those on a salt- or sodium-restricted diets.

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