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Pecans: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more


You might have heard about almonds, cashews, pistachio and peanuts, but have you heard about the pecan nut? Don’t worry if you haven’t, we’ve got all the information that you need to know about this pecan nut. The pecan fruits are dark brown with black spots on them. Their shells are elliptic in shape, having a bulged out (convex) exterior layer and a bulged (concave) inner layer. These fruits come under the category of drupes which grow in bunches and might contain three to eight nuts in them.1 

The scientific name of the pecan tree is Carya illinoinensis, which is an important fruit plant in temperate regions like the Northern hemisphere. It is an indigenous plant of the United States and Mexico but had spread to the regions of South America, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, and Chile. In recent times, pecan’s popularity has spiked, and it is now being cultivated in regions of China, Australia, and South Africa too. Pecans contain many nutrients which might be beneficial for human health. Some of its potential uses are stated in the following sections.1 

Nutritional Value of Pecans: 

Pecan nut contains a total of 691kcal of energy in 100gm and nutrients present in the pecan nut are:   

Nutrient   Content  
Carbohydrate  13.9g 
Protein  9.17g 
Lipid  72g 
Sugars  3.97g 
Fibre  9.6g 
Starch  0.46g 
Calcium  70mg 
Potassium  410mg 
Magnesium  121mg 
Phosphorous  277mg 
Iron  2.53mg 
Manganese  4.5mg 
Zinc  4.53mg 
Copper  1.2mg 
Selenium  3.8µg 
Fluoride  10µg 

Table 1: Depicting the nutrients present and their content in 100g of pecan nut2 

Vitamins present in pecan are: 

  • Thiamin (vitamin B1) 
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) 
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)  
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) 
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) 
  • Retinol (vitamin A) 
  • Phylloquinone (vitamin K)2 

Also Read: Chia Seeds: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

Pecan oil is derived from pecan nuts. This edible pressed oil is a good source of protein, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and other minerals. Pecan oil is widely used to improve nerve cell function, strengthen cell activity, and eliminate free radicals. Generally speaking, It also might be useful in keeping cancer, reducing coronary heart diseases and heavy metal toxicity, and may have anti-ageing effects.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Pecans: 

Pecans might possess the following properties: 

  • It might act as an antioxidant  
  • It might help lower blood sugar 
  • It might lower cholesterol levels 
  • It might safeguard the heart against cardiometabolic diseases 
  • It might help against degenerative diseases 
  • It might act as an anti-inflammatory agent.3 

Also Read: Urad Dal: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

Potential Uses of Pecans for Overall Health: 

Pecans contain several bioactive compounds which might be beneficial to health and some of the potential uses are as follows. 

1. Potential uses of pecans for diabetes 

Studies have shown that eating pecans regularly might improve insulin resistance, fasting insulin and the functioning of the cells producing insulin (beta cells of the pancreas). This may help pecans help in lower their blood glucose levels and it might be helpful against diabetes. However, kindly ensure that you consult a doctor for a serious condition such as diabetes and do not self-medicate.3 

2. Potential uses of pecans for the heart 

Pecans may reduce the risk factors which are related to the heart. Pecans have different bioactive compounds which may help in reducing clinically relevant markers like glucose metabolism and blood lipid levels. The reduction in the clinically relevant markers may help in protecting the heart from cardiometabolic diseases. But there is a requirement for more research to prove the potential effects that pecans on the heart. Therefore, ensure that you consult a doctor if you have heart problems that may be serious.3Do not self-medicate.   

3. Potential uses of pecans for inflammation 

Pecans contain phytochemicals like tannins, ellagic acids and urolithins which might help reduce inflammation. These compounds might have the potential to alter the expression of genes that are responsible for chronic inflammation. This might further be helpful against chronic metabolic diseases caused due to inflammation. However, these effects need to be confirmed by more extensive research.3 

4. Potential uses of pecans for cholesterol 

Rajaram et al. in their study noticed that the consumption of pecans might have a cholesterol-lowering effect. Both total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) may reduce when pecans were given regularly to their test subjects. This may help pecan nuts to lower the cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore, further research on this subject might be able to reveal the effects of pecans on cholesterol.3If you have high cholesterol levels, consult the doctor and do not self-medicate.  

5. Potential uses of pecans for oxidative stress 

Pecans might have the potential to improve the antioxidant status of the body. This might be due to the presence of gamma-tocopherol and catechins in pecans. However, it is believed that by increasing the antioxidant activity in the body, pecans might help in reducing oxidative stress. This might further help us against the various diseases caused by increased oxidative stress in the body.4 

6. Potential uses of pecans for nervous system diseases 

Pecan nuts might be helpful against metabolic diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. However, such claims need to be further researched and backed up scientifically to be proven as facts. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.1 

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of pecan in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of pecan on human health.  

Also Read: Betel Leaves: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

How to Use Pecans? 

Pecans can be eaten simply by roasting the nuts. They are also used in the preparation of bakery products, candies, and dairy products. They can also be used for the preparation of various other dishes.5 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking pecans in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

In elderly patients, as body oestrogen levels decreased, the antioxidant levels also reduced. As an effect, increased levels of free radicals can lead to cell damage and shows sign of ageing. According to some studies, pecan oil exhibits antioxidant effects along with anti-ageing properties. Therefore, consuming pecan oil might be useful for reducing ageing effects in elderly patients.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Pecans: 

 Pecan nuts might cause allergies in some individuals. Therefore, one should ensure that they are not allergic to pecan nuts before eating them.5  

Precautions to Take with Pecans:  

People who are allergic to pecans must be cautious and make sure that they do not consume pecans, food containing pecans or food that has been in contact with pecans.5 

There are no reports of the effects of pecan nuts on pregnant women. Therefore, pregnant women should confirm the safety of pecan nuts with their doctor before consuming them. 

There are no reports of any special precautions that need to be taken by children or elderly individuals for the consumption of pecans. Therefore, kindly consult with a doctor before giving pecans to children or elderly individuals. 

Also Read: Barley: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Pecans might react adversely to unknown drugs. However, such potentialities have not been reported. Therefore, there is a need for more research to study the adverse reaction of pecans to specific drugs. Kindly ensure that you consult a doctor and discuss whether it is safe for you to take pecans, especially if you are undergoing any treatment and are on medication. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the benefits of pecan nuts to human health? 

Pecan nut might be helpful against cardiometabolic diseases, diabetes, degenerative diseases, and oxidative stress. However, more research is required to prove the effectiveness of pecan for the mentioned conditions. Kindly consult a doctor for the conditions and do not self-medicate.1,3,4 

Are there any pecan benefits for the skin? 

There are no beneficial effects of pecan for skin reported yet. There is a requirement for more research on this subject. 

Can pecan nuts be used for cooking? 

Yes, pecan nuts can be used for cooking. They are generally used in the preparation of bakery products and flavouring dairy products.5  

Is pecan good for the heart? 

Yes. Pecans might help lower the risks of cardiometabolic diseases. Therefore, pecans might be good for the heart.3 

What are the pecan nuts vitamins? 

Vitamin A, B (B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6), C and K are present in pecans.2 


1. Bilharva M, Martins C, Hamann J, Fronza D, Marco R, Malgarim M. Pecan: from Research to the Brazilian Reality. J Exp Agric Int [Internet]. 2018 Jun 14;23(6):1–16. Available from: https://www.journaljeai.com/index.php/JEAI/article/view/901 

2. FoodData Central. Nuts, pecans [Internet]. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [cited 2022 Aug 30]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170182/nutrients 

3. McKay D, Eliasziw M, Chen C, Blumberg J. A Pecan-Rich Diet Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Mar 11;10(3):339. Available from: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/3/339 

4. Hudthagosol C, Haddad EH, McCarthy K, Wang P, Oda K, Sabaté J. Pecans Acutely Increase Plasma Postprandial Antioxidant Capacity and Catechins and Decrease LDL Oxidation in Humans. J Nutr [Internet]. 2011 Jan 1;141(1):56–62. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/141/1/56/4630660 

5. Vanga SK, Raghavan V. Processing effects on tree nut allergens: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr [Internet]. 2017 Nov 22;57(17):3794–806. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2016.1175415 

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