The power of pecans: 8 Reasons to eat more pecan nuts (recipes included)
09/26/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
The power of pecans: 8 Reasons to eat more pecan nuts (recipes included)

Pecan pies are all the rage in the fall. Sweet and delectable with just the right amount of crunch, it’s no wonder people go nuts for pecans despite their steep price tag.

Considered a nutrient powerhouse, pecans are brimming with plant protein, beneficial monounsaturated fats, fiber and other essential micronutrients that promote optimal health.

Health benefits

Pecans are associated with a number of incredible health benefits. These include:

  1. Boosts heart health – The monounsaturated fats in pecans are great for the heart. Studies show that these fats help in lowering total cholesterol, as well as bad cholesterol that could clog arteries, causing heart conditions.
  2. Promotes digestion – Since pecans are rich in fiber, eating them on a regular basis can help boost digestion, regulate bowel movement and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal conditions.
  3. Supports weight loss – On top of its role in promoting gut health, the fiber in pecans has been shown to aid in weight loss. That’s because fiber sustains feelings of fullness for longer periods, thus preventing snacking in between meals and overeating. Pecans are also chock-full of B complex vitamins that boost metabolism, allowing us to burn more calories when we’re at rest.
  4. Reduces cancer risk – Pecan nuts are associated with a reduced risk of breast and colon cancer because of their monounsaturated fats. Fats like oleic acid and ellagic acid, in particular, act as antioxidants to protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  5. Fights inflammation – Pecans are rich in beta-carotene, a kind of antioxidant that helps in mitigating the effects of chronic inflammation. Magnesium, an essential mineral found in pecans, also aids in suppressing inflammation.
  6. Fortifies immune health – Pecans are teeming with immune-boosting minerals, including copper and zinc. Together, these two minerals help ward off infection and disease.
  7. Improves skin health – Don’t toss out those pecan shells. Studies show that pecan shells contain higher concentrations of antioxidants (phenolic compounds and flavonoids) than the kernels. Pecan shells have also been shown to have good antimicrobial potential that can rid the skin of harmful bacteria. To reuse the shells, pulse them in a food processor to make a facial scrub or cleanser.
  8. Stimulates hair growth – Research shows that pecans can stimulate hair growth. That’s because these nuts are rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that promotes blood flow in the scalp. In addition, pecans are a good source of iron, which has been shown to protect against male- and female-pattern hair loss.

Pecan recipes

Pecans make a great addition to desserts and meat dishes alike. You can use them as an oatmeal topping or for some added crunch in homemade trail mixes and pancakes.

Crush pecans and use that to bread fish or chicken, or stuff fruits with pecans and cheese for a sweet treat or appetizer. You can also whip up the following pecan recipes:

Pecan-cauliflower poppers

This recipe introduces a fun approach to eating greens. Swap the white flour breading for homemade pecan breading for a healthier side dish or afternoon snack.


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Pulse the pecans in a food processor to create “flour.”
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pecan flour, brown rice flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper.
  4. Pour in water and mix to make the batter.
  5. Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter.
  6. Place the florets on the prepared baking sheet. Season with the remaining salt.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the florets and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden.
  8. Serve hot as-is or with a side of hot sauce, marinara or ranch.

Gluten-free cinnamon pecan cookies

These gluten-free pecan cookies are bursting with crunch and the aroma of cinnamon. This cookie recipe also uses coconut oil and coconut sugar for a healthier twist to the standard cookie dough recipe.


  • 1 1/3 flax egg (4 teaspoons ground flaxseeds mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
  • 1 1/3 cups gluten-free oat flour
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup solid coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In another mixing bowl, add the solid coconut oil and coconut sugar. Use a fork to mix the two until the texture is like wet sand.
  4. Whisk in the flax egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Using a hand mixer, combine the flour mixture and the coconut oil mixture.
  6. Toss in the chopped pecans and continue mixing.
  7. Scoop balls of cookie dough and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Press chopped pecans onto the cookies. Bake them for 10–15 minutes.
  9. Let the cookies cool before serving.

Pecan-crusted fish with peppers and squash

Substitute crushed pecans for bread crumbs to make a healthier crusted fish. Pair it with bell peppers and squash for texture contrast and a boost of antioxidants.


  • 1 lb. skinless fish fillets, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch wide strips
  • 1 medium zucchini, bias-sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 medium summer squash, bias-sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 egg
  • Lemon wedges


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking pan with foil and set aside.
  2. Cut the fish fillets into 3-inch pieces and set aside.
  3. In a shallow dish, stir together flour and chili powder.
  4. In another shallow dish, stir together the wheat flour, pecans and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water.
  6. Dip each piece of fish into the flour mixture. Shake off the excess.
  7. Dip the fish into the egg mixture, then coat it with the pecan mixture.
  8. Do this for all the fish fillet pieces. Place them all in the prepared baking pan.
  9. In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, zucchini and squash.
  10. Drizzle with olive oil and seasoned salt.
  11. Place the vegetables next to the fish, arranging as needed.
  12. Bake uncovered for 20–25 minutes.
  13. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Roasted butternut squash

Featuring butternut squash, pumpkin seeds and pecans, this recipe screams fall. The aromatic whiff of cinnamon also adds a subtle coziness to the dish.


  • 1 lb. cubed butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, oil, salt and cinnamon. Stir well.
  3. Pour the squash mixture onto the lined baking sheet. Bake for 25–30 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped pecans and pumpkin seeds.

Gluten-free pecan pie crust

Nut-based pie crusts are popular among those with health conditions that restrict gluten and grains. This pecan nut pie crust is a great substitute for traditional flour-based pie crusts, and it makes for the perfect foundation for pumpkin pie this fall.


  • 6 dates, softened and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted and melted
  • 1 cup whole pecans


  1. Place the pecans into a food processor and pulse until the pieces are as big as lentils.
  2. Pour in the melted butter, then add the dates. Pulse the processor again.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Press down to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.
  4. You can fill in a prepared pie filling at this point and bake as needed, or bake the crust at 350 F for 10 minutes and refrigerate it until needed.

Rich in nutrients and chock-full of antioxidants, there’s no going wrong with pecan nuts for snacks, desserts or side dishes. To reap pecan nuts’ health benefits, toss them into salads, mix them into cookie dough or whip up the recipes listed above.

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