Pecans “America’s Nut” are packed with many health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. This makes them a shoo-in snack for runners and other high-performance athletes.
According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration data published in Runner’s World, researchers have discovered that eating 1.5 ounces (about a handful) of nuts a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. That’s because most of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which have been shown to lower levels of LDL (so-called “bad” cholesterol).
“These fats are important for runners because they have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body,” says Nancy Clark, R.D., “and can help repair tiny muscle injuries that create inflammation.”
Not just any nut will do, however. The FDA includes six nuts in its qualified health claims citing the benefits of nuts — including pecans. The agency suggests that athletes buy nuts raw and toast them in the oven or on the stove top to bring out their full, rich flavor.
The report in Runner’s World cites pecans for several benefits compared with other nuts. For one thing, they contain some of the highest levels of phytosterols, a group of plant chemicals that may help protect against cardiovascular disease.