ATLANTA, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- It's National Pecan Month and there's new evidence to suggest eating just a handful each day may help protect your heart. Findings from a research study, conducted at Loma Linda University in California, suggest pecans boost antioxidant levels in the body. This boost likely contributed to a drop in unhealthy cholesterol levels in the people who participated in the study. Testing conducted after the participants had eaten pecans showed that a particular type of antioxidant doubled and oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol decreased by one third. Oxidized LDLs are believed to be a culprit in artery inflammation which increases the risk of cardiovascular problems. The study was published in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
Antioxidants are substances that protect against cell damage. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, apples, artichokes and pecans, among others, may help protect the body against diseases. Peer-reviewed research, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has shown that pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut based on a testing method called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). For more information, visit: www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/ORAC/ORAC_R2.pdf.
Pecans contain different forms of the antioxidant Vitamin E, known as tocopherols, according to Dr. Ella Haddad, associate professor, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University where the study was conducted. The nuts are especially rich in one form of Vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. It was this type of antioxidant that was shown to double in the human body after eating pecans and likely led to the decrease in bad cholesterol, according to Dr. Haddad.
"This study confirms previous research which shows pecans are a healthy food," said Dr. Haddad. "Our study indicates that antioxidants in pecans are absorbed in the body and provide a protective effect against the development of various diseases such as cancer and heart disease."
For more information on the study, visit www.nutstudies.org/pecan2008.html.
Loma Linda University is a health science university with more than 4,000 students in eight schools: Allied Health, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Religion, and Science & Technology. The campus is located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
For more information about pecans, including recipes and photos, visit www.ilovepecans.org.
SOURCE National Pecan Shellers Association