Powerful Pecans Plant Components

Two studies on powerful pecans show that blood cholesterol levels are dramatically lowered when pecans are incorporated into the diet.

Pecans May Lower Cholesterol

Researchers say that it is the unsaturated fats in nutritious pecans that help lower cholesterol levels. Pecans also contain plant components with antioxidant properties, which can slow the oxidation or “rusting” of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Pecans also contain plant sterols, which have been in the news for their cholesterol-lowering ability.

Pecan’s Nutritional Benefits

Pecans add undeniable zest and flavor to any meal, as well as nutritional benefits. Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals — including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.

Just one ounce of pecans (a small handful or about 15 halves) has more zinc — an important nutrient for proper growth and strong immunity — than a 3.5-ounce piece of skinless chicken. Most good sources of zinc are foods of animal origin, but pecans happen to be a plant-based source.

Over half the fat (about 60 percent) found in pecans is monounsaturated fat and approximately another 30 percent is polyunsaturated fat. This means that almost 90 percent of the fats (oils) in pecans are heart-healthy!

Texas Pecans

Teddy Roosevelt, in 1885, wrote of one of his hunting trips through west Texas:

“This beautiful fertile valley, through which the deep, silent stream of the Llano flows, is densely wooded with grand old pecan trees along its banks; as are those of its minor tributaries which come boiling down from off the immense upland water-shed of the staked plains, cutting the sides of the ‘divide’ into narrow canyons.”

  • The Pawnees: comes off the tree ahead of all the other types around mid September. They are a sweet, thick-skinned solid pecan.
  • The Chockaws: These are a thinner shell and meatier flavor pecan.
  • The Cheyennes: These are a smaller, oilier pecan and the most favored.
  • The Kiowas: These are a semi sweet ,light textured and thin shelled pecan.

Pecan Fun Facts

  • The length of an edible pecan ranges from 1 to 2.5 inches.
  • Pecan trees yield a hard wood used to make flooring and furniture.
  • Fossil pecan remains have been discovered in Texas. Their presence dates back long before Native Americans appeared on the scene.
  • Pecans were said to have produced a fermented intoxicating drink called “Powcohicora”, from which the word “hickory” was derived. Today we would more likely refer to it as “hickory milk”.
  • The port New Orleans became the first commercial pecan center distributing pecans to other parts of the U.S. and the world.
  • After the Civil War in the 1860s, the wild pecan became commercially more valuable than cotton in San Antonio, Texas

Toasted Pecans

Pour 4-cups pecan halves in a large baking pan spreading them out evenly. Melt 1/2-cup butter or margarine in a saucepan. Add 4-teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1-tablespoon garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce. Stir the butter mixture and drizzle over nuts. Stir to make sure they are completely coated. Bake in 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure they toast uniformly. Pour onto paper towels to absorb excess butter. Once cooled, they will stay fresh in an airtight container.

Texas Pecan Trees

The Pecan Tree is the largest of all Hickory trees, growth of 80 feet to an impressive 180 feet high, and a girth that can measure 4 to 6 feet near the ground. The branches extend in all directions with the lower branches of the tree sloping downward with grayish brown bark and long toothed leaves. The fruit it bears, the pecan nut, has become one of Texas’ major industry. With an average yield of 250 million pounds per year, 4/5 of the pecans are marketed as shelled nuts. The wood is used for flooring, furniture and panelling.

Did You Know….

That in August 1999, a permanently endowed Program for Pecans was established at Texas A & M University, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, as a lasting tribute to the state’s most important native horticultural crop. It would fulfill the dream of early pecan pioneers and a large number of growers who spent their lives laying the foundation for the development of the valuable renewable alluvial soil of the great rivers of Texas.

A pecan tree normally grows to be 70 to 100 feet high. One of the oldest trees in the State of Texas ever found was on the Winkler Pecan Farm. It was over 600 years old. It had a trunk diameter over 16 feet and a limb reach of over 240 feet and grew to a height of 190 feet.

Recipe: Orange Date and Pecan Balls

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (without pits)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (be sure they are unsulphured)

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor. Form into balls.

Recipe: Louisiana Pecan Rice Recipe

Pecan rice is available in white and brown (unprocessed) forms. White rice sets off food flavors more distinctly, while brown rice has a higher fiber content and takes longer to cook. Pecan rice is an excellent source of folate, and a good source of iron, niacin and thiamin.

  • 1 cup Louisiana pecan rice
  • 1-1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place the rice in a colander. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Combine the rice, salt and stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the rice for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and keep covered. Let the rice sit for five minutes before serving. Season with pepper to taste. Recipe makes four servings.

Nutrition information per 1/2 cup serving:
Calories: 179; Total Fat: 1g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 1mg; Sodium: 623mg; Total Carbohydrate: 38g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Protein: 4g

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