Little known fact about this tiny tree nut: The United States grows and supplies up to 80% of the world's pecans (that may explain why we go right for pecan pie at Thanksgiving!). But even lesser known pecan trivia: They're delicious, nutrient-packed powerhouses that make for an ideal snack, condiment, or ingredient in your favorite recipes.
Just a single ounce of pecans (about 19 halves) is 200 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 20 grams of mostly unsaturated fats, making it a hearty, satisfying snack with loads of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Pecans provide phytonutrients, plant-based compounds that have powerful antioxidant benefits. They're also a good source of the mineral zinc, crucial for immune-cell development and function. Diets high in zinc are linked with a lower risk of many diseases, particularly those related to age and lifestyle. What's more, eating ellagic acid-containing foods — an antioxidant found in pecans — is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers.
Pecans are chock-full of monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat linked to improving total cholesterol levels. Another benefit to these tasty tree nuts: Pecans are filled with beta carotene and vitamin E, which protect cells from damage by mitigating the effects of chronic inflammation.