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All about “Pecan (pecan)”

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Health profile

Fruit of a tree growing abundantly in the United States, pecans were part of the traditional Native American diet. It is still popular today, especially in pie. Its protein content is relatively low compared to other nuts such as almonds. Fresh pecan is one of the richest in fat, but its content is rich in unsaturated fat. It begins to go rancid after a few weeks.

Active ingredients and properties

gain : a myth denied Many people tend to reduce their consumption of shelled and oil seeds for fear that their high caloric content will lead to weight gain. However, two large reviews of the scientific literature refute this myth and demonstrate that regular consumption of shelled and oil seeds is not associated with weight gain 16 , 17 . This could be explained in particular by an incomplete absorption of lipids (almost 20%) which would lead to a decrease in energy intake, by an increase in satiety, or by an increase in metabolism following the consumption of these types of fruit.

Shell fruits (almond, hazelnut, etc.) and oil seeds (pecans, nuts, etc.) in general:

Several epidemiological and clinical studies associate regular consumption of nuts and oil seeds with various health benefits such as a cholesterol-lowering effect 1 , a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease 2 and type 2 diabetes 3 , a reduction in the risk of gallstones 4 and removal of the gallbladder 5 , and a decreased risk of colon cancer in women 6 . The amount of shelled and oil seeds related to these benefits is most of the time approximately five ounce (30 g) servings per week.


Cardiovascular diseases . A study in healthy people showed that adding 68 g of pecans a day to the regular diet reduced blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), compared to a control group consuming neither nuts and shelled fruits 7 . Another study was done in people with normal or moderately degraded blood lipids who were given a cholesterol-lowering diet. By replacing a small portion of the system by 72 g (2.5 ounces) of pecans daily and researchers observed an improvement even more marked cholesterol lowering 8 . These benefits may be attributable tounsaturated fat (“good” fat) of pecan, as well as its fiber and arginine content, an amino acid potentially beneficial for cardiovascular health. In addition, pecans and all nuts and oil seeds contain phytosterols , a plant compound whose structure resembles cholesterol, but to which we attribute a cholesterol-lowering effect in the body. Pecans are said to contain about 39 mg of phytosterols per 25 g serving 9 . A meta-analysis of 41 clinical trials has shown that taking 2 g per day of phytosterols reduces LDL cholesterol by 10%. This reduction could reach 20% as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol 10. This amount of 2 g per day is practically impossible to achieve only through food. It is for this reason that products enriched with phytosterols such as margarine have appeared on the market. Even if present in very small quantities, the phytosterols naturally present in food remain interesting for cardiovascular health.

Antioxidants . Antioxidants are compounds that reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body. These are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the appearance of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging. Pecan is the nut that contains the most phenolic compounds, around 1650 mg per 100 g. For comparison, blueberries contain 650 mg per 100g 18 . Among the shelled and oleaginous fruits, pecans are also one of the most proanthocyanidin containing around 494 mg per 100 g serving 11 .

Other properties

Is pecan antioxidant? Very strongly  : pecan has a TAC index of 4,485 umol per 25 g serving.
Is pecan acidifying? Data not available.
Does pecan have a high glycemic load? Pecans have a low glycemic load.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Manganese . Pecans are an excellent source of manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

 Copper . Pecans are an excellent source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several enzymes containing copper also help the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Zinc . Oil-roasted pecans are a good source of zinc for women and a source for men, as their needs are different. For its part, dehydrated pecans are a source. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (production), the storage and the release of insulin.

 Phosphorus . Pecans are a source of phosphorus (see our fact sheet on Phosphorus nutrients ). Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain normal blood pH . Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.

 Magnesium . Pecans are a source of magnesium. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Iron . Pecans are a source of iron for humans only. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses).

 Vitamin B1 . Pecans are a source of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we eat. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.

 Vitamin E . Oil-roasted pecan is a source of vitamin E. A major antioxidant, vitamin E protects the membrane that surrounds the body’s cells, especially red and white blood cells (cells of the immune system).

 Dietary fiber . Pecans are a source of fiber. Dietary fibers, which are found only in plant products, include a set of substances that are not digested by the body. In addition to preventing constipation and reducing the risk of colon cancer, a diet rich in fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease, control type 2 diabetes and appetite 12 . Remember that it is recommended to consume 25 g of fiber per day for women from 19 to 50 years old, and 38 g per day for men of the same age group 13 .

What is a “portion” of pecans worth?
Weight / volume Dehydrated pecans,
25 g / 60 ml
in halves
Roasted pecans
in oil,
28 g / 60 ml
Calories 173 199
Protein 2.3 g 2.6g
Carbohydrates 3.5g 3.6g
Fat 18.1g 21g
-saturated 1.6g 2.0 g
– monounsaturated 10.2 g 11.4g
-polyunsaturated 5.4 g 6.6g
-Omega 3* 0.2g 0.3 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 mg
Dietary fiber 2.4g 2.7g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.
* EPA, DHA and Alpha-Linolenic Acid


Allergy to nuts (shelled and oil seeds) . In the list of the main allergens of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) 14 , we find “nuts”, which designate a set of nuts and oil seeds. Some people, however, may be specifically allergic to pecans. In addition, one study found that pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts were a group whose allergies were strongly associated 15 : a person allergic to one of these foods is thus likely to be allergic to the other two. In addition, it is usually recommended that people allergic to peanuts also refrain from consuming nuts (shelled and oil seeds), including pecans, since they also have a high allergenic potential and are often handled and distributed. by companies specializing in peanuts. Symptoms of shellfish and oilseed allergy can be severe and cause anaphylactic shock .

Urinary stones . Some people may be recommended to adopt a restricted diet of oxalates to prevent recurrences of kidney or urinary stones (also called urolithiasis). Oxalates are compounds found naturally in several foods, including pecans. It is therefore preferable that these people avoid consuming it, as well as the other types of shelled and oil seeds.

Pecan over time

The term ”  pecan  ” appeared in the French language in 1824, first in Louisiana, the region of origin of the tree. It derives from pakan , a word belonging to an Algonquian dialect which means ”  hard-shelled nuts  “. Today it tends to be replaced by anglicism “pecan” or “pecan”, particularly in Europe.

Among the trees giving an edible fruit, the pecan is the most important species of American origin. At least 8,000 years ago, Native Americans who lived in what is now Texas were already eating its nuts. Its range extends from the American Midwest to Mexico, where it still grows wild. Native to the alluvial soils of the Mississippi and its tributaries, it has been dispersed by humans, but also by crows which transport nuts for several kilometers. These birds may also have helped to select modern varieties with a thin shell, because they prefer these nuts, which are lighter and easier to open.

Introduced in Spain in the XVI th  century by the conquerors, pecan gradually implemented in several countries with temperate climate. However it will be the middle of the XIX th  century before grafting pecan trees becomes common. The production of these grafted trees is much more homogeneous than that of trees from seed. However, even today, in the southern United States and northern Mexico, there are many orchards composed of trees that have grown spontaneously and have not undergone any genetic improvement resulting from the selection of cultivars meeting specific criteria. Less productive than the modern improved versions, they are nevertheless the object of intensive harvests by the local populations.

Of all the oleaginous fruits pecans are the richest in fats – we speak of 70% of their total composition – which makes them an important element of subsistence in times of scarcity.

Culinary uses

Choose well

The basis of food
Pecans have been an essential food source for certain Amerindians who lived in its area of ​​distribution. It is said that in certain regions, it constituted the almost exclusive supply of food for two to four months per year.

In its shell: If the walnut makes noise when it is shaken, it is because it is not of the greatest freshness. It is better not to buy it. The best pecans are those found in the fall, for two or three weeks after harvest.

Shelled: It is always preferable to buy the oleaginous fruits in their shell, because they turn rancor less quickly than those which are shelled, but if one must obtain the latter, one will avoid those which are sold in bulk and the Preferably choose airtight containers on which an expiration date is written.

Oil, which has a delicate flavor, can be found in specialty shops.


  • As an appetizer: dip the pecans in a marinade made of melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and ketchup, drain them, put them on a metal plate and bake them in an oven set at 155 ºC (310 ºF ) stirring frequently. Season with salt if desired.
  • Mix the pecans with ground cumin, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. Heat them in olive oil and butter for about five minutes, then put them in the oven and cook for half an hour, stirring regularly. Salt and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight jar.
  • Prepare a soup by passing through a pecan mixer with beef or chicken broth. Add tomato puree and sliced ​​green onions and cook for half an hour. Link with an egg yolk and cream. Season with a little freshly grated nutmeg.
  • Poultry or fish in a crust: dip pieces of poultry or fish fillets in the marinade of your choice then place on ground pecans and press to coat the meat. Cook quickly under or on the grill.
  • Serve roasted pecans with wholegrain rice that has been cooked in chicken broth.
  • On pasta with diced tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of good flavored olive oil.
  • In sauces to accompany poultry, with meat broth, tomatoes, onion, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly in a food processor and coat the poultry with this sauce.
  • In an Italian salad with greens, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Roast the pecans before adding them to the salad.
  • In a salad with spinach , grapefruit wedges and a raspberry vinegar sauce. Roast the pecans before adding them to the salad.
  • Serve them roasted with green vegetables, for example broccoli.
  • In stuffing for poultry.
  • Present them with cheeses and fruit or with watercress and cheese sticks. Season with balsamic vinegar sauce.
  • Sprinkle ground pecans with a brie and sliced pear salad , all served on young greens.
  • Glazed with maple syrup: cook them for a few minutes in a dry pan, then add a little maple syrup and cook for a few more minutes. Let cool then serve in salads or for dessert with fruit.
  • The traditional pecan pie is prepared by mixing four beaten eggs with 250 ml (1 cup) of pecans, 160 ml (2/3 cup) of sugar, 80 ml (1/3 cup) of melted butter, 250 ml (1 cup ) corn syrup, a pinch of cinnamon and salt. Pour the preparation onto a pie crust placed in a 22 cm diameter pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes in an oven set to 175 ºC (350 ºC).
  • Grind the pecans and include the powder obtained in the preparations for bread, pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, etc.
  • Cook them for a few minutes in a syrup made up of orange juice and sugar, and flavored with orange peel. Leave the pecans to dry on parchment paper (vegetable parchment).
  • In pralines or dipped in chocolate.
  • Add them to smoothies, oatmeal or muesli- type cereal .
  • In addition to being delicious in salads, pecan oil accompanies rice in all its forms and perfumes cakes.


The pecan in its shell keeps three to six months in a dry and cool place.

Refrigerator: because of its richness in unsaturated fatty acids, pecans quickly become rancid on contact with air. It is therefore preferable to keep the shelled pecans in the refrigerator in airtight containers. They can then be kept for almost nine months.

Freezer: they can be frozen in freezer bags, in which case they will keep for two years.

Oil should be kept in the dark and cool, or even refrigerated, to delay its rancidity.

Ecology and environment

In Georgia, the owners of an organic pecan farm have decided, after consultation with environmentalists, to fight the larva of a butterfly which can cause significant damage to pecans, counting on the help of bats. mouse. In conventional management, producers spray insecticides a minimum of six times a year to control this larva. Insecticides are banned in organic farming, farmers had no choice but to let the larvae do its damage, which resulted in a loss of about a third of annual production. So we built on the farm “maternities” intended to receive up to 2,000 bats each. In a short time,

Bats are indeed excellent predators against all kinds of nocturnal insects, in particular mosquitoes which they can eat at a rate of 1,000 per hour. It is for this reason, moreover, that in Calcutta, bat farms have been established on the outskirts of the city with the aim of combating the insects which are omnipresent and which constitute a threat of malaria for human populations.

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