Pecans are the only tree nut native to North America. The first cultivated pecan trees were in Mexico in the 16-1700s and the first U.S. plantings were in Long Island, NY. And believe it or not, but the United States produces about 80% of the worlds pecans supply.
Pecans are called the "AntioxiNUT" because they are so high in antioxidants and essential nutrients for the body. They rank among the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants. Among these antioxidants is Vitamin E (specifically gamma tocopherol) and selenium which supports heart and respiratory health, prevents heart diseases, and helps with blood circulation by protecting blood lipids from unnecessary and harmful oxidation.
Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, calcium, potassium, folic acid, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. They also contain B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates (which together play an important role in enzyme metabolism within the body) and are actually one of the very few sodium-free and fiber-rich nuts in the world.
Pecans are high in protein, so they make a great replacement for meat and other animal products for those that choose to avoid these foods. If fact, they even make a much healthier alternative to meat, being cholesterol-free and so high in healthful fats. As a general rule, a 1/2 oz of pecans (about 10 pecans) can take the place of 1 oz of meat.
Pecans can also help manage cholesterol levels as well, as the plant sterols in pecans have cholesterol-lowering attributes. Pecans contain zero cholesterol and helps decrease total and LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol levels. They're even packed with heart-healthy fats. In fact, 60% of the fats in pecans are monounsaturated (like oleic acid) and 30% is polyunsaturated. The other 10% are saturated fats (which is very low), and they contain zero trans fats.
Eating pecans regularly can help boost your metabolism, encourage weight loss, and help shed calories. Some people naturally think that all nuts in general are "fattening", but studies have shown that increased nut consumption actually resulted in a decrease in body fat and overall weight. They are also fairly low in carbs, making them a great snack for people following low-carb weight loss plans.
Flaxseed is the #1 source of lignans in the human diet which are unique polyphenols that provide us with antioxidant and fiber-like benefits. In fact, they actually contain 7 times the lignans as the closest runner-up (sesame seeds). They are also a great source of fiber (8 grams per tablespoon) and plant-based Omega-3s (primarily alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), making them very helpful with promoting digestive health and reducing inflammation.
Chia seeds are certainly a superfood, as they contain a plethora of nutrients including omega 3's (700 times more than salmon), antioxidants, minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese and magnesium, and vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and folic acid. They're renowned for their stamina and energy-boosting qualities, and are great for digestion as they contain high amounts of fiber.
Cinnamon has been shown to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, prevent cancer, relieve arthritis, anti bacterial, and boost brain function and memory. And the Ceylon cinnamon we use in this recipe is perhaps one of the most potent cinnamon on the planet!
Add these delicious gems to a trail mix, use them at toppings on your favorite yogurt or ice cream, or simply eat them by themselves.