Georgia Pecans Hard to Fool (or Beat)

first_imgIt’s not easy to fool a pecan tree. And if pecan lovers will be equally hard tomislead, Georgia growers could be headed for a big year.”We didn’t have any cold damage at all,” said Tom Crocker, a horticulturistwith the University of Georgia Extension Service.Late-winter freezes almost never hurt pecan trees. That’s because they’re so slow toact when the weather warms.”The old adage is that when the pecan trees start budding out, spring is here forsure,” Crocker said.That slow response to warm days serves the trees well. “The last year we sufferedreal cold damage was 1955,” he said.So unlike the state’s peaches, which the late freezes hit hard, Georgia pecans are offto a strong start. “We’re looking to have a big year,” Crocker said.A big year for Georgia pecans is truly a big year. Trees here produce more pecans thanin any other state — about a third of the nation’s total.That leaves the state’s growers to tend to their trees and hope the people who buytheir crop aren’t fooled by a few detractors.The new food labels’ focus on fat has led some people to pan pecans. But these nuts arehealthy.Pecans may actually help lower your risk of heart disease, said Holly Alley, a food,nutrition and health specialist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.”It’s true that pecans are high-calorie foods,” Alley said. “And theyget nearly all of their calories from fats. But pecans are low in saturated fats and highin monounsaturated fats.”It’s the mono fat that may make pecans a good-for-your-heart food.”Monounsaturated fats may have a useful role in the dietary prevention of heartdisease,” Alley said.She cited studies in which people who ate nuts one to four times a week hadthree-fourths the heart-attack risk of people who almost never ate them. People who atethem five or more times a week had half the risk.The mono fats may help reduce high blood triglycerides, a risk factor for heartdisease.People with diabetes often have high triglycerides, Alley said. For them, the mono fatsin pecans can be helpful.A one-ounce serving of pecans, she said, contains 190 calories. Of 19 grams of fat, 12are monounsaturated. Less than two are saturated. Five are polyunsaturated.One cup of pecans is about 3.5 ounces. Five pounds of unshelled pecans yield aboutthree pounds shelled. Each shelled pound is about 4.5 cups.”Pecans are fairly high in dietary fiber, too: 1.8 grams per ounce,” Alleysaid. “That may be another reason people who eat them have lower risk of heartdisease. We’re not really sure why the risk is lower.”The best way to put pecans in your diet, she said, is to replace foods high in otherfats.”Pecans can be more satisfying than low-fat foods,” she said. “Andthey’re better for you than foods high in saturated fats.”last_img

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