Foods That Fight For You: Pecans Are on Your Side
You don’t have to be a big time celebrity to enlist the help of bodyguards. Nutrients called antioxidants found naturally in the foods we eat fight to keep our hearts healthy, bones strong, eyes sharp and skin smooth. They really are like bodyguards - kicking out the bad guys before damage is done to our body’s cells.
The offenders are called free radicals created in the body during an unhealthy chemical reaction called oxidation. The good guy nutrients are called “antioxidants” because they stop oxidation. Antioxidants “take the bullet” to protect vulnerable cells. Well-known nutrients that function as antioxidants include vitamin C and vitamin E; but there are many more called flavonoids, polyphenols and carotenoids found in the foods we eat, too.
To strengthen your body’s ‘security system,’ eat more foods that are sources of antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain, seeds and nuts, such as Georgia Pecans. Within categories some varieties are better sources than others. Generally the darker the color of the fruit or vegetable the more antioxidants within, so blueberries are an excellent source. With nuts, the USDA ranks pecans as the highest in antioxidant power. The unique combo of antioxidants found in pecans works as a security team upping the power of the individual nutrients.
So, while you may first choose pecans for the delicious flavor and pretty appeal in recipes, pecans are one of the best foods to help protect your health. That’s why Georgia Pecans have earned the name AntioxiNUT!
If you’re looking for a simple pecan recipe, try the Simply Elegant Pecan and Blue Cheese Bites. Spread blue cheese on a pecan half and cover with another one to create a cheese filled nutty bite. Substitute with any soft cheese, such as goat cheese or cheddar cheese spread.
Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD
Co-author, The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!