Pecans are probably the only ‘nut trees’ that are native to North America. The name pecan is actually an Algonquin word “pakan” or “paccan”, which means “a fruit that can be enjoyed after breaking the shell with a stone”. In Mexico, walnuts and pecans are both referred to as “nuez”, which is similar to the English term “nut”.
History of Pecans
Pecans belong to the hickory family and are often mistaken as walnuts due to their appearance. The only major difference between the two popular nuts is that one is round in shape, while the other has an elongated oval shape. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were known to be extremely fond of this crunchy nut. Pecan trees generally reach a height of more than hundred feet and can live for thousands of years. The pecan tree is the state tree of Texas. In the US, pecans are the second most popular nuts after peanuts. America is the pecan capital of the world, as 80% of all pecan nuts are cultivated in this country.
Health Benefits of Pecans
- Contrary to popular belief, pecans are free of cholesterol and actually help in lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
- Pecans are good sources of oleic acid that prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.
- Pecans contain phytochemicals such as ellagic acid, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, and Vitamin E, which make it a good antioxidant.
- Pecans are also one of the best sources of B complex vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic, folate, vitamin B6, and thiamin.
- Pecans provide essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and manganese to the body