If you’re one of those trying to watch your diet this holiday season, you’re in luck. Recent research suggests that pecans are not only good snacks to have around for the holidays, but they’re also good for your health all year round. While many Americans eat their pecans baked into pecan pralines and pies or rolled around a caramel covering with a creamy maraschino cherry nougat center like our Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls, health experts suggest you think about including pecans in other parts of your holiday diet. After all, pecans meet the latest USDA Dietary guidelines for Americans which include many different kinds of proteins like seafood, lean meat, eggs, beans and nuts like pecans. Instead of reaching for chips or cookies this holiday season, try reaching for some deliciously healthy pecans. In fact, according to registered dietitian Beth Hubrich, R.D. from the National Pecan Shellers Association, replacing those potato chips you’re always eating with about one ounce of pecans is a healthy alternative when it comes to snack foods. This is because the energy you get from pecans lasts longer than that which you get from high carbohydrate potato chips. Plus, their rich buttery flavor just tastes better, making it the perfect snack when your energy starts running low. Here are ten other reasons to add pecans to your holiday diet and keep yourself healthy all year: There’s Plenty of Vitamins & Minerals In Just One Pecan In just one humble pecan, you’ll find vitamins like vitamins A, B, and E, and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, thiamin and copper, too! And, just one ounce of pecans provides 10% of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Your Heart “Hearts” Pecans Like avocados and olive oil, pecans have high-fat content, but fortunately for us, it’s the good kind of fats. Yep, that’s right, these brown little tree nuts pack about 60% monounsaturated fats. Diets like the Mediterranean diet are rich in monounsaturated fats, and these diets regard pecans as an important part of daily nutritional intake because they can remarkably decrease high blood pressure. Plus, pecans have also been proven to prevent heart disease, coronary artery disease, and other cardiac-related deaths. In that case, why wouldn’t your heart love pecans? Pecans Can Help You Gain Energy & Lose Weight Because their both low in sodium and packed with a lot of protein, pecans give you enough energy to keep you moving all day. They also produce oleic acid, which not only helps to lower blood pressure, but also provides energy through monounsaturated fats, those healthy fats we talked about before. Also, as we mentioned above, healthy fats supplied by pecans along with their ready supply of the mineral manganese, are vital to weight loss. These healthy fats and minerals send signals to your grehlin hormone, otherwise known as “the hunger hormone”, telling it that your body feels full and satisfied. They’re Full of Antioxidants Antioxidants are substances such as vitamin C or E that remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism (i.e., humans). Pecans are a rich source of antioxidants and can help prevent oxidative stress – the imbalance between free radicals (oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidants in your body. This uneven number allows free radicals to easily react with other molecules which can have many dire effects such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression; however, the good news is that, according to studies done at California’s Loma Linda University, pecans are extremely important for a healthy body because within 24 hours of eating them, pecans intensely increase antioxidants in the bloodstream, helping to stave off all of those nasty diseases mentioned above. Pecans are Swell for Reducing Inflammation Inflammation is the body’s way of naturally fighting off something that might be harmful to us such as bacteria or viruses, damaged cells, or irritants; however, chronic inflammation – inflammation that lasts for long periods of time can have negative results which can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This is where pecans come in. As part of an anti-inflammatory diet, they are an excellent source of vitamin E which has been shown to reduce inflammation. Additionally, they especially help those who suffer from mild to severe arthritis. Pecans Lower Cholesterol High in fiber and unsaturated fats, pecans help to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels (the good cholesterol), just another way pecans help prevent the risk of heart disease and keep your diet heart-healthy. Pecan Can Help Reduce the Symptoms of PMS The next time you’re feeling pre-menstrual, try munching on any of Stuckey’s or Front Porch Pecans flavorful pecan treats, washing them down with a nice cold glass of milk to help ease the effects of mood swings and cramps. You see, pecans contain magnesium which, together with calcium, can relieve some of the symptoms of PMS. The dietary fiber in pecans also helps keep your digestive track healthy, also vital when you’re already not feeling so great. Pecans Prevent Breast Cancer & Osteoporosis Pecans contain loads of oleic acid which has been found to lessen the risk of breast cancer. They also contain lots and lots of phosphorous which help lower the possibility of developing osteoporosis. Phosphorus also helps maintain your body’s waste system, keeps your bones and teeth strong, and can thwart muscle pain and cramping from exercise. Pecans Improve Brain Function When your friends see you eating pecans, they’ll be thinking “Check out the brain on Brett!” (or whatever your name is) because they know that pecans are chock full of thiamine and copper that are working together to stop free radical damage in your brain and delaying the rapid onset of Parkinson’s disease. Not only that, but low manganese levels can also cause mood swings, learning disabilities, and epilepsy. But guess what? That’s right! Those pecan log rolls also full of manganese which stabilizes the brain’s synaptic process – or how neurons communicate with each other – making pecans literally great food for thought. Pecans Make You Prettier Want glowing skin? Eat a few iron-rich pecans. Not only can the antioxidants in pecans do amazing things for your complexion, but the iron packing pecan can also prevent anemia which can make you look weak and tired. And your hair (or to be more precise, your lack thereof) will thank you, too. The pecan has lots of L-arginine, an amino acid which has been shown to promote blood flow to the head; as a result, eating pecans can encourage the growth of healthy hair and also treat male pattern baldness. So, there you are – ten healthy reasons why it’s okay to go a little nutty this holiday season for all of our pecan products the next time you’re making a Stuckey’s stop. No Stuckey’s locations near you yet? Then make a Stuckey’s stop on the information superhighway at www.stuckeys.com for more of the sweet treats and souvenirs and Stuckey’s merchandise you remember. As a special treat, join us today only – Monday, November 30th – for Cyber Monday and we’ll give you 20% off your entire order! Stuckey’s we’re making road trips (and holidays) fun again!