Pecans may protect against obesity and diabetes.

Pecans may protect against obesity and diabetes.

Eating Pecans: A Nutty Way to Prevent Obesity and Diabetes

Pecans Benefit

We are all well aware of the rising rates of obesity and diabetes, two severe public health crises plaguing our society. However, a recent study conducted on mice by researchers at the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubiran in Mexico and the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University has provided us with a glimmer of hope. The study suggests that incorporating pecans into our diet could potentially curb these health issues and their related complications.

In the study, mice were fed a high-fat diet with pecans or pecan polyphenol extract while another group was fed a high-fat diet without pecans or additives. The results were striking. The mice that consumed pecans exhibited significantly lower weight gain, decreased markers for diabetes, and improved overall health compared to those on the non-pecan diet. These findings shed light on the potential protective effects of pecans against excessive weight gain, inflammation, fatty liver disease, and diabetes.

Interestingly, mice on a 23% fat high-fat diet gained 37% more weight than those on a control group’s diet with only 7% fat. However, when the same high-fat diet was supplemented with pecans or pecan extract, the mice showed weight gain levels comparable to the control group. This indicates that pecans have the ability to counteract the adverse effects of a high-fat diet and prevent excessive weight gain.

But the benefits don’t stop there. The pecan-inclusive diet also led to lower cholesterol levels, reduced insulin resistance, lower inflammation, enhanced oxygen consumption, improved mitochondrial activity (the “powerhouse of the cell”), increased heat generation within brown fat tissues, and other positive biomarkers. In simple terms, the body’s energy-burning processes were enhanced, aiding in weight management and overall health.

Additionally, the study demonstrated a decrease in the enlargement and presence of immune cells in both subcutaneous and visceral fat cells. This reduction in immune cell presence helps to mitigate inflammation and obesity-related complications, further underscoring pecans’ potential as a protective measure against obesity and related health issues.

The study also showed an improvement in gut health among the mice that consumed pecans. The pecan-inclusive diets resulted in a decrease in dysbiosis, indicating an improved gut microbiome. Gut health plays a pivotal role in metabolic health and inflammation, which are closely interconnected. These findings further enhance our understanding of the link between gut health, inflammation, and metabolic health.

While it’s important to acknowledge that the study received partial funding from pecan interests, experts agree that pecans, along with other tree nuts, have well-documented health benefits. Pecans are rich in polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and polyphenols, substances known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s important to note that these benefits likely extend to other tree nuts as well.

Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, the study’s senior author and a professor of horticulture and food science at Texas A&M University, hailed pecans as a “superfood.” However, some experts caution against falling prey to marketing jargon. The term “superfood” is often used as a marketing tool and may lead to misconceptions about the magical benefits of specific foods.

So, how many pecans should the average person consume to reap these potential benefits? According to the researchers, the human equivalent of the pecans given to the mice amounts to 22-38 whole pecans daily for an average individual weighing 132 pounds. This is significantly higher than the recommended daily serving of pecans, which is around one ounce or approximately 19 pecans.

Instead of drastically increasing pecan consumption, experts advise starting with the recommended amount and gradually increasing intake if desired. It’s crucial to consider other dietary needs and monitor overall fat and calorie intake. Additionally, the manner in which pecans are consumed matters. Incorporating defatted pecan flour into cooking can provide the necessary polyphenols without excess fat and calories.

In conclusion, while further research is needed to solidify the link between pecans and the prevention of obesity and diabetes, preliminary findings are promising. Pecans, along with other tree nuts, offer a healthy tool to aid in weight management and metabolic regulation. They are also a rich source of essential nutrients like monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and fiber, making them a valuable addition to a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. So, next time you’re looking for a snack, consider reaching for these delightful and nutritious nuts.