Go a little nuts during the holidays by adding this versatile and delicious treat to your favorite dishes.

No matter which way you crack it, or how you pronounce it, the pecan is a superfood to embrace this holiday season. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this multifaceted nut adds flavor, pizzazz and a few heart-healthy benefits.

A 2011 study by Loma Linda University revealed naturally occurring antioxidants and different forms of vitamin E in pecans. These nuts are especially rich in one form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. The findings illustrated that after eating pecans, gamma-tocopherol levels in the body doubled and unhealthy oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood decreased by as much as 33 percent.

Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals and are loaded with healthy fats. Over 90 percent of the fat found in pecans is unsaturated, heart-healthy fat.

Pecan trees are the only major native nut-producing tree in North America. Pecans are now grown extensively in the southeastern United States and are a prominent part of the regional cuisine.

Historically, Native Americans and early American settlers used pecans because they were easily accessed along major waterways and were far easier to shell than other North American nut species.

When choosing the perfect pecans, look for ones that are plump and uniform in color and size. What makes these nuts extra special is that despite being harvested in the fall, pecans can easily be stored for use year-round.

Storage

  • Shelled pecans can be refrigerated for about nine months, or frozen for up to two years
  • In-shell pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for six to 12 months
  • Pecans can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly without loss of flavor or texture
  • Airtight containers are best for storing pecans in the refrigerator
  • Sealed plastic bags are best for storing pecans in the freezer

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Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:
Pecan pie
Sweet potatoes 
Roasted nuts

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