Nuts to the nutty (especially pecans)

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“Oh, It’s the Nuts”: An old commercial jingle for Fifth Avenue candy bars went something like that. Well, “Nuts to the nutty,” as they say. I love them all, but this month let’s take a look at the celebrated pecan.

Pecans can enhance the flavor of any dish. But more than just a savory sensation, pecans provide essential nutrients like oleic acid, which can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Pecans are also rich in vitamin E, thiamin, magnesium, and copper, and are a good source of fiber.

Pecans are the only tree nut that is truly native to the United States. Georgia leads the nation in Pecan production and has been the top pecan-producing state in the nation since the late 1800s. Aside from bearing this prized fruit, pecan tree are members of the hickory family and are prized for their lumber because they make beautiful furniture, flooring and paneling.

Pecans are one of the largest fruit-bearing trees. One irrigated, managed acre of pecan trees will produce about 1,000 pounds of pecans.

There are over 500 varieties of pecans, of which only three are common. Georgia produces all three varieties and averages 88 million pounds each year. That is enough pecans to make 176 million pecan pies!

Here is some other pecan trivia you might find interesting:

– Assuming that a pie is 9 inches in diameter, it would take 97,812,000 pecan pies to circle the earth!

– Every pecan pie uses 1/2 lb- 3/4 lb of pecans. It takes about 310 pecan halves to fill a one-pound bag. So there are about 78 pecans used in every pecan pie!

– Pecans can be frozen and refrozen for at least two years without loss of flavor or texture.

– Pecans are one of America’s favorite nuts and are a good source of oleic acid, Vitamin B1 – Thiamin, magnesium, protein, and fiber.

– Nuts are a part of most universally accepted balanced diets, such as the “Mediterranean Diet,” which includes fish, poultry, vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, grains, olives and olive oil.

– Pecans can help lower total blood cholesterol and combat heart disease. Pecans are believed to be helpful in fighting some cancers.

– In 1992, Loma Linda University in California found that people who ate nuts at least five times a week had about half the rate of heart disease as people who never ate nuts.

– According to research funded by the International Nut Council, Washington , D.C. – Nuts have been proven to be effective for diabetics, especially those placed on low-fat diets.

– The fiber in pecans and other nuts is mostly insoluble. This has been linked to reduced cholesterol levels.

– Thomas Jefferson, America’s 3rd president, food connoisseur and gardener, was very taken by the flavor of pecans and had trees imported from Louisiana for his Monticello orchards.

– In 1995, Georgia pecan wood was selected by the Atlanta Committee to make the handles of the torches for the 1996 Olympic Games. The torches were carried in the 15,000-mile U.S.A. relay and in the lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta on July 19, 1996.

Pecans are a terrific way to add quality and variety to all types of foods. No need to convince me, how about you? Add them to a favorite recipe soon.

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