According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, April is National Pecan Month – a time to celebrate the “All American Nut” for its delicious taste and numerous health benefits.   Pecans are the only tree nut indigenous to North America, and they have quite a history on this continent. On April 6, 2001, the goodness and wholesome of pecans was proclaimed in the U.S. Congressional Record, and National Pecan Month was established. Senator Max Cleland (D-Georgia) asked his colleagues to join him in celebrating National Pecan Month, which now takes place every April.

Health Benefits of Eating Pecans

Research has shown pecans are also a great natural source of antioxidants, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.

  • Antioxidants– Pecans contain different forms of the antioxidant vitamin E—known as tocopherols, plus numerous phenolic substances, many of them with antioxidant abilities. The nuts are especially rich in one form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. The findings illustrate that after eating pecans, gamma-tocopherol levels in the body doubled and unhealthy oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood decreased by as much as 33 percent.
  • Cholesterol– The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged the benefits of pecans (this is huge for the FDA to do) with 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– 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.
  • Nutrients– 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 percent 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.

Sugar Coated Pecan Recipe

Now that you know a little of the history behind the National Pecan Month and some of the benefits of including these gems in your diet. Here is a fantastic sweet treat that features the pecan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound pecans – halved
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a bowl whip the egg (white only) with the water until nice and frothy.
  3. In a separate large bowl mix together the sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Next pour the pecans into the egg white mixture and coat each piece thoroughly.
  5. Dip the pecan pieces into the sugar mixture and coat.
  6. Place on baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour.
  7. You will want to stir and mix the pecans every 10-20 minutes to ensure all sides are evenly baked.
  8. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Do you plan on celebrating National Pecan Month? What is your favorite recipe that includes pecans?

photo credit: chotda