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Pecans nutrition facts

Delicious, buttery yet rich-flavored pecans are one of the popular edible dry fruits known to American aborigines since centuries ago. The nuts are enriched with many health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

Pecan is a very large sized, deciduous tree belongs to the member of hickory family, Juglandaceae; and scientifically named as Carya illinoinensis. They are native to central and southern parts of the United States of America, however, now being cultivated in many regions of the world including USA as an important commercial crop.

Several cultivars exist; some of the highly recommended species include Cape fear, Elliott and Moreland.

During each spring season, the tree bears catkins, consisting of cluster of monoecious flowers arranged closely along a central stem that ultimately become fruits by autumn.

Pecan nuts, like the fruit of all other members of the hickory genus, are not true nuts, but are botanically a drupe.

Each fruit feature oval to oblong shape, 1 to 3 inch long and 0.5–1 inch broad, and dark brown color with rough 3-4 mm thick husk or involucres, which splits off in to four sections at maturity to release a thin-shelled nut. Nuts are generally harvested from October through December. Raw nuts are then subjected to dehydration; the process which is essential to remove moisture and to improve the keeping quality of pecans.

Health benefits of Pecans

  • Pecan nuts are rich source of energy, provide 690 cal/100 g and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for wellbeing.

  • These nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of antioxidants. Regular intake of pecan nuts in the diet help to lower total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in dietary-fiber, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants would help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

  • Pecan nuts are rich source of many phyto-chemical substances that may contribute to their overall antioxidant activity, including polyphenolic antioxidant ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. Research studies have been suggestive of that these compounds help body remove toxic oxygen free radicals and thus, protect body from diseases, cancers, as well as infections.

  • Anti-proliferative properties of ellagic acid are because of its ability to inhibit DNA binding of certain carcinogens such as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; thus protecting body from cancers.

  • Pecans are an excellent source of vitamin-E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol; provides about 25g per100 g. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.

  • The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. These vitamins functions as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism.

  • The nuts are also rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

Add hand full of pecan nuts every day in the diet to keep your diet meter complete with sufficient levels of minerals, vitamins and protein.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Pecans (Carya illinoinensis),
Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 691 Kcal 34.5%
Carbohydrates 13.86 g 11%
Protein 9.17 g 17%
Total Fat 71.9 g 360%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 9.6 g 25%

Folates 22 mcg 5.5%
Niacin 1.167 mg 7%
Pantothenic acid 0.863 mg 17%
Pyridoxine 0.210 mg 16%
Riboflavin 0.130 mg 10%
Thiamin 0.660 mg 55%
Vitamin A 56 IU 2%
Vitamin C 1.1 2%
Vitamin E 24.44 mg 163%

Sodium 0 mg 0%
Potassium 410 mg 9%

Calcium 70 mg 7%
Copper 1.2 mg 133%
Iron 2.53 mg 32%
Magnesium 121 mg 30%
Manganese 4.5 mg 196%
Phosphorus 277 mg 40%
Selenium 3.8 mcg 7%
Zinc 4.53 mg 41%

Carotene--ß 29 mcg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 9 mcg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 17 mcg --

Selection and storage

Pecans are available in the markets year around. In the store, however, many forms are available like shelled, unshelled, salted, sweetened etc. Try to buy whole “in shell” or “with shell” nuts instead of processed ones. They are generally available in airtight packs as well as in bulk bins.

Look for the nuts that feature off white color, healthy looking shell, compact, uniform in size and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks (other than the natural split), molds, and spots and free from rancid smell.

Raw whole pecan nuts are generally cut open at processing units using large sheller machines. Smaller nut sheller machine or hand held pliers usually are being used for domestic purposes.

Unshelled or with shell pecans can be placed in cool dry place for many months, whereas shelled (without the shell) kernels (nuts) should be placed inside airtight container and kept in the refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid.

Culinary use

  • Raw pecans, like walnuts, can be eaten on their own or salted or sweetened.

  • Pecan nuts are buttery in consistency yet pleasantly sweet in taste. High fat content in them make them wonderful additions to prepare delicious recipes like pecan caramel puddles, pie, fudge, baklava and muffins.

  • The nuts are often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and bourbon ice creams.

  • They are widely used in confectionery, as an addition to biscuits, sweets, and cakes.

  • The nuts are also used to make pecan nut-butter, which is popular spread over bread, toast etc. //

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