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Pecan Nutrition, FAQs, and Interesting Facts

When you’ve owned a pecan farm since 1948, you know a thing or two about pecans!  

We love educating our customers and readers, and you can imagine we’ve been asked a lot of questions over the years. We thought we’d share some popular questions here about our favorite topic.   

What is the Nutritional Value of Nuts and Pecans? 

We’ve been getting nutritional value questions a lot recently, and rightfully so! We love answering questions about naturally nutritious pecans and other nuts. People are concerned more than ever with knowing what’s in their food, where it comes from, and which nuts have certain nutritional elements. We’re happy to share with you their amazing benefits.

Why are nuts so good for you?

Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, protein, and a variety of minerals and vitamins. When moderately consumed (one handful a day), plain, raw nuts are a great source of healthy fats and nutrients. 

What nuts are good for magnesium?

Brazil nuts contain the highest levels of magnesium, followed by cashews. Magnesium plays an important role in heart health, bone health, and energy levels.

What nuts contain Zinc?

Cashews contain the high levels of Zinc, followed closely by pecans. Zinc is an essential mineral and nutrient that our bodies do not make on their own. It keeps the immune system healthy and strong.

What nuts contain fiber?

Pecans are a great choice when you need more fiber in your diet. Just one ounce of pecans (approximately 20 halves) provides 10% of the recommended Daily Value for fiber. 

Which nuts are highest in calcium?

Almonds are highest in calcium, followed by brazil nuts.

What nuts are low in cholesterol? 

Pecans are a natural, high-quality source of protein, containing very few carbs and no cholesterol. 

Which nuts are heart-healthy? 

Unroasted and unsalted pecan halves and pieces are a fantastic heart-healthy food. They are naturally sodium-free, making them an excellent choice. Select pecans meet nutritional guidelines including criteria for saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and beneficial nutrients. (see more health benefits about our amazing pecans below!)

Which nuts contain antioxidants?

Pecans have the highest antioxidant content of any tree nut. They are known to rank in the highest category of foods containing the highest antioxidant capacity. Pistachios are another tree nut containing antioxidants and are a good choice for digestion. 

Which nuts contain Selenium?

Brazil nuts are unique in that they contain high levels of Selenium. Selenium is a mineral that plays a role in metabolism and thyroid function. Selenium also happens to provide benefits for prostate health. It has been associated with a lower risk of certain prostate conditions. Learn more about the benefits of Brazil Nuts.

What nuts are high in protein?

Peanuts (technically a legume, not a nut because they don’t grow on trees), are high in protein. Almonds contain the most protein of all the tree nuts, followed by pistachios

Which nuts are high in Omega-3s?

Walnuts contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Research has shown that omega-3s help heart arrhythmias, managing heart disease, and lowering blood pressure.

Which nuts have the lowest Carbohydrates (carbs)?

Pecans, walnuts, and macadamias are low in carbs

Which nuts contain the highest potassium?

Pistachios contain the highest potassium, followed by almonds and hazelnuts. Pistachios also contain a high amount of Vitamin B6.

Why is the Pecan One of the Best Nuts You Can Eat?

Georgia pecans have been around since Columbus arrived, making them the original super nut. Consumers are looking for more plant-based proteins and fats, and pecans check both of those boxes.

Pecans are available whole or shelled, in many sizes from mammoth to small pecan pieces; from the pecan in the shell to the smallest component, the pecan meal. Here are a few different ways people consume pecans:

·     For baking and cooking. Pecan pieces and pecan meal are ideal because there are so many delicious, healthy substitutions that can be made. For example, pecan meal is tasty when dredging a mild white fish instead of cornmeal. Or used in desserts, salads, and appetizers.

·     For snacking. Pecans are heart-healthy, delicious, and filling

·     Have a sweet tooth? Pecans are a fantastic candy alternative

·     For gifts. Pecans are considered a gourmet, fancy nut, and they are a special treat for neighbors, friends, family members, and business associates.

People enjoy pecans many different ways: toasted, roasted, salted, flavored, candied and raw.

Are Pecans Good for You?

Pecans are not only tasty, they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

·     Pecans have a higher oil content than most other nuts. These Omega 3 healthy fats contribute to their superior flavor while also making them a heart-healthy food

·     Pecans are high in antioxidants, which are thought to fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry cites that pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut. According to the USDA, they even rank among the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants. They’re in good company with other high-antioxidant foods such as blueberries, Goji berries, artichokes, and kale.

·     Pecans naturally contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, zinc, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and magnesium

·     Pecans also provide a good source of plant-based, vegan protein

·     Pecans are also a good source of oleic acid, vitamin B1, thiamin, magnesium and protein.

·     Research conducted by the University of Georgia has confirmed that pecans contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability.

·     According to the Loma Linda University 2011 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, they found that naturally-occurring antioxidants in pecans may help contribute to heart health and disease prevention. 


Are Pecans Keto Friendly and Low Carb?

The ketogenic diet is a strict low-carb, high-fat diet. Keto diets and other low carb diets require carefully counting your carbs, so while you want to consume nuts in moderation due to the healthy fat content, pecan-lovers can have peace of mind knowing pecans are one of the lowest-carb nuts you can eat. Cashews, on the other hand, are the highest in carbs compared to pecans.

How Do You Say Pecan?  Puh-KAHN or Pee-can?

The battle over how you pronounce “pecans” has been waged for decades. A dialect study showed that almost 30% of Americans say pee-kahn, 21% say pi-kahn, and 13% say pee-can. Here at Sunnyland Farms, we have a more diplomatic answer. Whether you say puh-kahn or pee-can, we’re sorry to tell you there is no right or wrong answerit all depends on what your mama taught you to say.

What Are the Different Types of Pecans Available?

Most people don’t realize there are so many different varieties of pecans. In fact, Sunnyland harvests more than a half-dozen pecan varieties. The correct terminology is cultivar, or varietal, when speaking about the different varieties.

Here are a few we love:

·     Mammoth Desirable halves are among the most popular pecan type. They’re super crunchy and toasty. 

·     The Elliot pecan is the undisputed King of Flavor. Packed with more oil than most other pecans, the Elliot “Cultivar” is naturally sweet & delicious all in its own (we call them Jr. Halves around here).

·     Schleys, or Papershell, pecans are also extremely high in oil content and are larger than Elliotts. They are mammoth like the Desirables but taste more like an Elliot. They’re harder to grow but we still make sure to find the best of the best.

·     Pawnee are an early harvested nut with a nice, rich flavor. They have a nice golden color and are sometimes used for pecan pieces.

What is a "Mammoth" Pecan?

Pecan varietals also have different “grades,” or sizes, they can be classified as.

If they’re in a specific larger grade, they can go under the classification “mammoth,” which is where “mammoth pecans” come from. Mammoth pecan halves count at 250 or less per pound.

What is a “Junior" Pecan?

“Junior pecans” are a smaller grade, but equally delicious.  Junior pecan halves are the next largest size and count between 251-300 halves per pound. At Sunnyland we don’t sell anything smaller than a Junior.

What Makes a Pecan a “Fancy" pecan?

“Fancy grade size” is another box check when it comes to size. There are two areas we look at: quality and size.

For quality: (1) Well dried; (2) Fairly well developed; (3) Fairly uniform in color; (4) Not darker than “amber” skin color; (5) Free from damage or serious damage by any cause; (6) Free from pieces of shell, center wall, and foreign material; and, (7) Comply with tolerances for defects

For size: (1) Halves are fairly uniform in size; (2) Halves conform to size classification or count specified; and, (3) Comply with tolerances for pieces, particles, and dust

At Sunnyland, we consider ours “Extra-Fancy” because we only take the best of the best. If you look at our pecans versus any other “fancy” you will see an incredible difference.

Regardless of the grade, our pecans have to meet national quality standards, and even more rigorous quality standards we have in house.

What is Pecan Harvesting?

Pecan harvesting is the cycle of how pecans get from tree to table: from planting to watering, shaking to harvesting, sorting to cleaning, and shelling to selling. Want to know more about the process of how our pecans get from tree to table? Read our educational article about pecan trees here. You can also read our "State of the Farm" press release about our most recent pecan season, crop and harvest.

How Do You Keep Pecans Fresh?

For many people who have never tried a fresh pecan, they don’t know what they’re missing.

When you talk about storing pecans and the proper way to store them, most consumers aren’t aware you need to freeze them, due to the oil content in pecans. 

In fact, the lighter the pecans, the better the taste. When you walk through the grocery store and see pecans not being refrigerated and they’re dark, that could mean they’ve turned rancid aor they are old and past their prime in both flavor and taste.

Proper storage can make or break the quality of the product. We recommend storing your pecans in the freezer. It doesn’t take them long to come back up to room temperature, and it will protect the quality. We have a helpful guide here for tips on storing pecans and other mixed nuts.

Want to know more about pecan freshness and buying quality products? Check out this article on farm-fresh and organic pecans.

How is Sunnyland Different from Others That Sell Pecans Online?

While many are familiar with the “Farm to Table” movement, we like to tout “Tree to Table.” At Sunnyland, we have our hands directly involved throughout the entire process:  Planting, Growing, Harvesting, Sorting, Shelling, Toasting, Packaging, and Shipping. Sunnyland Farm pecans are heart-healthy and we’re excited to share that our Raw Pecans are also certified Kosher.

Sunnyland Farms is a 1,700-acre pecan farm in Albany, Georgia. We started in 1948 as a small mail-order business, and over the years have grown an online store that has served millions of customers all around the year. We’re known for our friendly customer service, our commitment to high-quality products (nuts, goodies, and gifts), and of course our “only the best” philosophy in every aspect of what we do.



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Sources for our pecan and nut nutrition: