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Secret Side Effects of Eating Pecans, Says Science

There's more to this nut that meets the eye.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

It's a pretty well-known fact that most nuts are extraordinarily healthy snacks that come with a host of health benefits.  This is especially true for eating pecans, which are heart-healthy and can even help to ward off diseases.

While pecans can be very healthy for you and aid your body in surprising ways, they can also have their own pitfalls, so make sure to always be conscious of what you're eating, and how much of it. Here's what you need to know about eating pecans, and for been more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

They can benefit your brain.

pecans in a breakfast bowl with quinoa and fruit

Nuts aren't just a healthy snack. Along with studying, playing mentally stimulating games, and other activities that help boost brain strength, eating a variety of nuts—including pecans—has been proven to have an overall positive impact on brain cognition.

A study from The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging concluded that there is a link between the consumption of nuts, including pecans, and better overall mental cognition. The survey suggests that consuming just five servings of nuts per week can help boost your brain's cognitive strength.

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Eating pecans may help prevent arthritis.

roasted pecans in bowl

One of the more negative sides to aging is that many people develop arthritis, which is the swelling and tenderness in joints. Eternal youth is one way to stave off the onset of arthritis, but a more realistic option is eating pecans, which contain omega-3 fatty acids. The heart-healthy nutrients are found in many nuts, including pecans.

According to a study from Asclepeion Hospital in Greece, omega-3 fatty acids have a significant impact on health, including on arthritis. In addition to that, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to help decrease inflammation by modulating the autoimmune inflammatory response.

For a delicious, salty snack that can satisfy your pecan craving, check out our Seasoned Nut Mix recipe.

They help lower cholesterol levels.

pecans with overnight oats and maple syrup

It's well known that to lower cholesterol you can feast on a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast. The circle-shaped cereal has been marketing itself as a heart-healthy breakfast option for years, but it's not the only food that can help to lower cholesterol. Servings of pecans can also contribute to lower cholesterol instead of subsisting on cereal.

Participants in a study published in The Journal of Nutrition saw a reduction in total cholesterol after eating pecans for eight weeks, as well as a decrease in triglycerides and certain types of glucose.

They can lead to weight gain.

spoon of pecans on a table

When you think of high-calorie foods your brain probably imagines processed foods, sometimes either packed with sugar or loaded with cheese dust, right? Did you know that sometimes foods that can be so healthy for you in some ways, like pecans, can also have a high-calorie content? We don't just mean the pie, either. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are about 200 calories in just a 1-ounce serving. When eating pecans, be sure to use moderation if you're trying to watch your calorie intake.

Also, if you're trying to avoid gain, in addition to using moderation when eating pecans, be sure to avoid pecans that come with added sugar or salt.

It can help prevent diabetes.

pecans in a bowl

Eating pecans is one simple step that can be taken to help avoid not only cardiovascular problems, but also preventing diabetes and complications from diabetes. According to a study from Tufts University, eating pecans helps the body to avoid absorbing too much blood sugar.

"When eaten alone nuts have been shown to have a minimal effect on raising postprandial glucose in acute feeding studies, and may blunt the glycemic response to a high carbohydrate meal," the study says.

Scientists have also theorized that part of the reason that nuts are so good at stabilizing blood sugar is because of their high fiber content. Pecans contain some soluble fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, and also helps to decrease the risk of developing diabetes.

For even more snacking tips, read these next:

Erin Yarnall
Erin Yarnall is a freelance reporter from the Chicago area. Read more about Erin
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