Walnuts are touted as one of the healthiest snacks you can eat, but they are also very easy to overeat. When that happens, you may experience some strange and unwanted results. Today we’re going to look at pecans specifically, but did you know that pecan isn’t technically classified as a nut at all? It is actually a drupe, which is a fruit with a single stone or pit surrounded by shell. For clarity, let’s keep calling them nuts!
But whether it’s drupe or walnut, the reality is that pecans have a lot of nutrition and aren’t always good for you. Sure, you’ll get plenty of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and zinc, plus 10% of your daily fiber. Diets rich in these elements tend to help prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
On the other hand, pecans are high in fat and a common allergy trigger. So, are pecans right for you? We will explore 7 things, both wonderful and strange, that can happen to your body when you eat pecans on a regular basis. Article #6 goes in direct opposition to many of the exaggerations you’ve probably heard about them.
1. Pecans make your brain work better
Pecans contain thiamine and copper, which are credited with preventing free radical damage in the brain. A thiamine deficiency can cause symptoms that include confusion and balance problems. Thiamine and copper may also work together to delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
Pecans also contain manganese, which is known to stabilize the brain’s synaptic process. Synapses are the starting points from which information is distributed around the brain, so getting enough manganese will help you think more clearly. There is not enough manganese that can exacerbate epilepsy, mood swings and learning disabilities.
2. Pecans protect against disease
Pecans are rich in antioxidants that bind to free radicals to neutralize them. If left untreated, free radicals cause oxidative damage to your cells and DNA. This then becomes a factor in your risk of developing diseases such as cancer, heart failure, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. You may also be more prone to depression or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Eating nuts can be a great way to get antioxidants because they significantly increase the level of antioxidants in the bloodstream within 24 hours of eating them. However, it is important to remember that virtually all fruits and vegetables are also high in antioxidants and contain much less fat.
3. Nuts make your skin shine
Free radicals do invisible damage inside your body, but their effects also manifest on the outside. Age spots, wrinkles and other skin damage tell the story of rampant free radical activity. The antioxidants in walnuts can help fight those marauders.
As another benefit, iron in nuts helps prevent anemia, which is a critical iron deficiency in the blood. Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and pale skin. Getting enough iron is another way to give your skin color. And finally, nuts contain L-arginine, an amino acid that promotes blood flow to the head. This not only imparts a healthy shine, but also encourages the growth of healthy hair.
4. Pecans can relieve pain
Copper and manganese in pecans are thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is an immune response that can be helpful at times but often becomes chronic. In any case, it brings with it a great deal of discomfort. By reducing inflammation, you’ll feel less pain on a daily basis.
A diet high in copper and manganese is recommended for people with arthritis for that reason, but pecans aren’t necessarily the highest in these nutrients among nuts. However, if you have constant aches and pains that you attribute to aging, you can feel much better and younger by adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
5. Walnuts cause progressively severe allergies
Now things not so good to eat nuts. Walnuts are a particularly common allergy trigger, and pecans tend to cause symptoms that progressively worsen as they are eaten more. Therefore, it’s entirely possible to have a low-level skin itch from an exposure you may not even be able to attribute to nuts, and then have a much more serious reaction when eating more.
Symptoms of a pecan allergy that you should be aware of include hives, swelling, itching, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, coughing, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have developed a progressively severe allergy to pecans over time, you could get to the point where simply touching them or inhaling the pecan dust causes a dangerous reaction.
6. Pecans Help You Gain Weight
A lot of research will tell you that pecans help you lose weight. That connection has been made because of its high level of fatty acids, which stimulate the body’s hormone ghrelin and send a signal to the brain that you’re full. The idea is that eating nuts ensures that you don’t overeat over the course of a day because you’ll feel satiated by the nuts.
However, the suggested portion size for pecans is an ounce or less, which alone is not very satisfying. If you eat more than that, the effect will be the exact opposite of what you intended. Pecans are extremely calorie dense and have more energy per ounce than many other foods. That makes them good as a bite after exercising, but it’s extremely easy to overeat them and forget about the calories you’ve consumed.
7. Pecans cause digestive problems
Pecans may be full of nutrients, but they are difficult to digest. That’s because of compounds called phytates and tannins. Walnuts contain these compounds as a defense mechanism. They make it possible for nuts to pass through the digestive tract of animals relatively undgested, and thus retain the possibility of sprouting after being expelled.
The same effect occurs in human animals, especially if you overdo it, and that leads to uncomfortable gas and bloating. The high fat content in nuts can also be problematic and lead to uncomfortable digestive problems such as diarrhea.
If you like the potential health benefits of eating nuts and are sure you can stick to a reasonable portion, there’s no reason not to enjoy them on a regular basis. Just don’t expect the pounds to melt from your body. Also consider how your body feels after eating those nuts. If you have an itchy throat or skin, you may be developing an allergy.
Pecan lovers who have digestive problems with them sometimes help them eat sprouted nuts. The nuts that have sprouted have already begun the process of becoming plants and are easier to digest.
In general, pecans are extremely healthy, but only if you don’t eat many. Keep your portions small and the strange things that happen to your body will all be positive. If you abuse them you will feel the uncomfortable consequences!