Pecans can help prevent obesity and diabetes and reduce inflammation, so even though they are among the most expensive type of nuts you can buy, if you can afford them, it’s worthwhile to eat a handful on a regular basis, according to a new research study from Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Obesity and diabetes numbers are increasing in modern society worldwide, and the trend in high-fat diet consumption is one of the main reasons besides lifestyle and genetic predisposition,” said horticulture and food science Prof. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos. “People are searching for healthier options, and we have now shown pecans are a healthy tool consumers have in their hands.”
The pecan is a species of hickory native to the southern US and northern Mexico in the region of the Mississippi River. The tree is cultivated for its seed primarily in the states of Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, and Mexico.
Cisneros-Zevallos, the principal investigator for the study, published his findings in the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute’s journal MDPI under the title “Pecans and Its Polyphenols Prevent Obesity, Hepatic Steatosis and Diabetes by Reducing Dysbiosis, Inflammation and Increasing Energy Expenditure in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet.”
Pecans are traditionally believed to be healthy
The study provides scientific evidence supporting the traditional knowledge in the Americas that pecans are highly nutritious, said Dr. Amit Dhingra, head of the college’s department of horticultural sciences.
The researchers fed pecans and high-fat diets to mice models and found that pecans increased energy expenditure and reduced the imbalance of microbial species and diversity in the microbiome and inflammation. They also found that the pecans reduced low-grade inflammation that leads to chronic inflammation and the development of a range of diseases, help maintain body weight and prevent diabetes despite the consumption of a high-fat diet. That could make the nuts a superfood, Cisneros-Zevallos said.
“The US and Mexico are two of the countries with the highest rates of obesity worldwide,” he added. “The more we know of unique functionalities of pecans, the more possibilities to create more healthful products,” he continued. “Pecans are of economic and historical importance to Texas and the US, and their production provides stability to farmers. This work will aid in the development of novel uses and products from pecans.”