FAQ's

Where can I find statistics on the pecan crop?

USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service provides crop production information by state and U.S. total, including estimates of the current crop and production from previous years. Visit the NASS website at the address below where you can search for information by crop. http://www.nass.usda.gov

Are pecans a good source of protein?

Yes! Pecans are an excellent source of protein and can be substituted for meat, poultry or fish in the diet, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. The dietary guidelines recommend that the average American should eat 5 ½ servings from the "Meat and Beans" group everyday. Pecans are included in this group because they contain approximately the same amount of protein and nutrients as meat, poultry, fish, beans and seeds. Eating 1 ounce of pecans (or about 20 halves) equals two servings from the meat and bean group and 2 teaspoons of oil. That means you still have 3 servings of meat and 4 teaspoons of oil left each day.

Can I eat pecans if I'm trying to improve my cholesterol?

Absolutely! In fact, a 2001 study out of Loma Linda University found that adding just a handful of pecans to a traditional low-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet can have a dramatic impact on the diet's effectiveness. Furthermore, the cholesterol lowering effect shown in the study is similar to what is often seen with cholesterol-lowering medications. When the Loma Linda study participants were on the pecan-enriched diet, they lowered their total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol twice as much as they did when they ate the American Heart Association (AHA) Step I diet. Just as importantly, the pecan-enriched diet lowered blood triglyceride levels and helped maintain desirable levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol compared to the Step I diet, which often unfavorably raises triglycerides and usually lowers HDL levels.

I usually think of pecans as "holiday" food. Are they available year round?

Yes they are. Although most people associate pecans with the holidays, it's OK to eat these delicious tree nuts anytime of the year. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, and they're cholesterol-free. To work pecans into your diet year-round, try some of these suggestions:

* Instead of chips, which are loaded with sodium, bring about 20 pecan halves to work to snack on throughout the day. Pecans are naturally sodium-free,
* Substitute pecans for a candy bar when you're looking for an afternoon pick-me-up. Research has shown people who eat pecans feel fuller longer. Pecans provide that long-lasting energy because they contain heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. Plus, a handful of pecan halves contain the same amount of fiber as a medium-sized apple.
* Sprinkle pecans on top of your yogurt and you'll get more zinc - an important nutrient for proper growth and strong immunity.

Pecans contain fat, so why should they be included in a healthy diet?

Pecans do contain fat, but not all fats are created equal. Over 90% of the fat found in pecans is unsaturated, heart-healthy fat meeting the new Dietary Guidelines that recommend Americans keep intake between 20 and 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from heart-healthy sources like fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

What about antioxidants?

Pecans are loaded with antioxidants. In fact, researchers at the USDA Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center found that pecans contain the most antioxidant capacity of any other nut and are among the top category of foods (#13 overall) to contain the highest antioxidant capacity. Plus, new research, published in the August 2006 issue of Nutrition Research, shows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may be help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping prevent heart disease. The researchers suggest that this positive effect was in part due to the pecan's significant content of vitamin E - an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances found in foods that protect against cell damage and - studies have shown - can help fight diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and heart disease.

What is the best way to store pecans?

When stored at 0 degrees in the freezer, either shelled meats or inshell pecans will maintain quality for two years. Under refrigeration, pecans should maintain their quality for several months. Storing pecans at room temperature is not recommended. Shelled pecans do not have to be thawed before use in recipes. However, if you are grinding the nuts in a blender or processing in a food processor to produce pecan meal, the meats should be allowed to dry at room temperature when taken out of a freezer or refrigerator.

Where are pecans grown?

The United States produces at least 80 percent of the world's pecans. The U.S. crop typically ranges between 300 and 400 million pounds. Other countries that produce pecans are Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Israel, China and Argentina.
Which state produces the most pecans?

Georgia is the top producing state in the U.S. in most years. Texas is second (but occasionally first) with an average crop for Texas being about 60 million pounds.

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Information Sources:

National Pecan Shellers Association - http://www.ilovepecans.org/