Devinder Bains, personal trainer and nutrition coach at Fit Squad DXB, shares her advice on the superfoods that will help you lead a longer and healthier life…
Whether you choose to eat them on their own as a snack, add them to a crunchy salad or stir fry, or crush them for a nutty coating to a fish dish, pecans are a rich source of healthy fats, plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent food for good health.
Help prevent chronic diseases
Pecans are higher in flavonoids than any other tree nut. Flavonoids help your body run more efficiently and protect you against everyday toxins and stressors. This means that people who consume a diet high in these flavonoids are less likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Flavonoids are also useful to ward off diseases of the brain. The phytonutrients and zinc found in pecans mean they’re great for boosting your immune system.
Low in sugar and salt
These nuts have a unique taste that make them a great snack if you need a sweet or salty treat but, surprisingly, they are low in both sugar and salt. Be sure to choose an unsalted variety to lower your risk of high blood pressure. Their low sugar content can help you avoid insulin spikes and maintain energy levels, preventing those afternoon energy slumps that come with high-sugar treats.
Boost skin and hair health
If you want to keep your skin looking young and your hair looking healthy, then pecans could be your secret weapon. They’re high in ellagic acid, vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, folate and phosphorous, all of which play an important role in maintaining good skin and preventing premature ageing. They are also an excellent source of L-arginine, an amino acid that can be applied straight to the scalp and used to treat male pattern baldness and stimulate hair growth in general. Pecans are also a good source of iron, a deficiency in which can cause hair loss.
Aid weight loss
Although one of the more calorific nuts, pecans are actually full of good fats. They are great for staving off hunger and keeping you feeling full for longer, in turn helping you to lose weight. They are also great for increasing metabolism due to their high volume of B vitamins responsible for this function. In addition to this, a 2016 study found a link between flavonoid-rich foods, such as pecans, and improved weight maintenance.
Promote heart health
This again is down to the good fats in pecans. They contain monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid along with phenolic antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also help decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol), thus improving overall cholesterol levels to help prevent stroke and coronary artery disease.