Nuts are touted as one of the healthiest snacks you can have, but they are also really easy to overeat. When that happens, you can experience some strange and unwanted results. Today we are going to look at pecans specifically, but did you know that the pecan isn’t technically classified as a nut at all? It’s really a drupe, which is a fruit with a single stone or pit that’s surrounded by husk. For clarity’s sake, we are going to keep calling them nuts!
But drupe or nut, the reality is that pecans pack a huge nutritional punch and also 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, thiamin, and zinc, plus 10% of your daily fiber. Diets high in these items tend to help prevent against illnesses like 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’ll explore 7 strange things, both wonderful and weird, that can happen to your body when you eat pecans on a regular basis. Item #6 goes in direct opposition to a lot of the hype you’ve probably heard about them.
1. Pecans Make Your Brain Work Better
Pecans contain thiamine and copper, both of which are credited with stopping free radical damage in the brain. A deficiency in thiamine can cause symptoms including confusion and balance issues. Thiamine and copper might also work together to delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
Pecans additionally contain manganese, which is known to stabilize the brain’s synaptic process. Synapses are the jumping off points from which information is shuttled around the brain, so getting enough manganese will help you think more clearly. Not enough manganese can exacerbate epilepsy, moods swings, and learning disabilities.
2. Pecans Protect Against Disease
Pecans are rich in antioxidants which bind with free radicals to neutralize them. Left unmanaged, free radicals cause oxidative damage to your cells and your DNA. This then becomes a factor in your risk of developing diseases including cancer, heart failure, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. You may also become more prone to depression or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Eating pecans can be an excellent way to get your antioxidants because they significantly raise the level in your bloodstream with 24 hours of eating them. However, it is important to remember that virtually all fruits and vegetables are also high in antioxidants, and they contain much less fat.
3. Pecans Make Your Skin Glow
Free radicals do unseen damage to the inside of your body, but their effects also show up on the outside. Age spots, wrinkles, and other skin damage tell the tale of rampant free radical activity. The antioxidants in pecans can help combat those marauders.
As yet another benefit, the iron in pecans helps to prevent anemia, which is a critical deficiency of iron in the blood. The symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and pale skin. Getting enough iron is another way to bring some color to your skin. And finally, pecans contain L-arginine, an amino acid that promotes blood flow to the head. Not only does this impart a healthy glow, but it also encourages the growth of healthy hair.
4. Pecans Can Relieve Pain
The copper and manganese in pecans is 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 significant discomfort. By reducing inflammation, you will feel less daily pain.
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 consistent aches and pains that you put down to aging, know that you can feel a lot better – and younger – by adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
5. Pecans Spark Progressively Severe Allergies
Now the not-so-good stuff about eating pecans. Nuts are a particularly common allergy trigger, and pecans tend to spark symptoms that become progressively worse the more you eat them. So it is entirely possible to have low-level skin itching from one exposure that you might not even attribute to the nuts, and then later have a much more serious reaction upon eating more.
The symptoms of a pecan allergy that you need to look out for include hives, swelling, itching, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, coughing, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have developed a progressively serious allergy to pecans over time, you could come to the point where just touching them or breathing in pecan dust causes a dangerous reaction.
6. Pecans Pack On Pounds
A lot of research is going to tell you that pecans help you lose weight. That connection has been made due to their high level of fatty acids, which stimulate the body’s ghrelin hormone and sends a signal to the brain that you’re full. The idea is that eating pecans ensures that you don’t overeat in the course of any day because you will feel satiated by the nuts.
However, the suggested serving size of pecans is one ounce or less, which by itself is not very filling. 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 for a quick pick-me-up after exercising, but it is extremely easy to overeat them and forget about the calories you consumed.
7. Pecans Cause Digestive Issues
Pecans may be full of nutrients, but they are challenging to digest. That’s due to compounds called phytates and tannins. Nuts contain these compounds as a defense mechanism. They make it possible for nuts to pass through the digestive tract of animals relatively undigested, and therefore still have a chance of sprouting after they are expelled.
The same effect occurs in human animals, especially if you overindulge, and that leads to uncomfortable gassiness and bloating. The high fat content in pecans can also be problematic and lead to embarrassing digestive issues like diarrhea.
If you like the potential health benefits of eating pecans and are sure you can stick to a reasonable portion size, there is no reason not to enjoy them on a regular basis. Just don’t expect them to cause the pounds to positively slide off your frame. Also be aware of how your body feels after you eat those pecans. If you have an itchy throat or skin, you may be developing an allergy.
Pecan-lovers who do experience digestive issues with them can sometimes be helped by eating sprouted nuts. Sprouted nuts have already begun the process of turning into plants and are easier to digest.
All-in-all, pecans are extremely healthy, but only if you don’t eat very many. Keep your portions small and the strange things that happen to your body will all be positive. Overindulge and you’ll feel the uncomfortable consequences!