Consumer Trends: Pecans As A Healthy Snack

April is National Pecan Month, and the National Pecan Shellers Association shows consumers how to incorporate pecans into healthy snacks.

ATLANTA, Ga. (PRNewswire) — The National Pecan Shellers Association (NPSA) has a proposition for you. This April, consider a convenient and healthy snack of pecans. A one-ounce serving of 15 to 20 pecan halves packs a nutritious punch.

*Pecans contain more antioxidants than any other nut variety according to ORAC values

*Pecans can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels

*Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals

*Pecans are a natural, high-quality source of protein and naturally sodium free

The healthy, buttery-sweet taste of pecans becomes even more attractive in light of research on rising snack consumption :

Americans are snacking MORE, and the need for a healthy snack is greater than ever. A Hartman Group Eating Occasions 2010 survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,115 adult U.S. consumers (18 to 70 years of age) showed that 48% of all adult eating occurs between meals, creating a "snacking culture" in the United States.

Children are part of the snacking trend, too. UNC-Chapel Hill researchers Carmen Piernas and Barry Popkin found nationally representative surveys of food intake in U.S. children showed large increases in snacking among kids, with between-meal munching moving toward three snacks per day compared to around one snack per day 30 years ago. More than 27 percent of children's daily calories come from snacks. This is negative only because desserts, sweetened beverages and salty snacks are all on the rise in place of healthier options. (Copies of the research available upon request.)

NPSA dietitian Beth Hubrich is a busy mom with two young children and one on the way.  She says pecans are part of her day-to-day family strategy. "A handful of pecans is a healthy snack that keeps me on the go. Since pecans are packed with protein, you don't bottom out an hour or two after you eat them. They taste good. There's no slicing and dicing, and there's no sticky mess on my fingers!"

While pecan lovers confess unflagging allegiance to the pecan pie as their favorite way to use the beloved pecan, the National Pecan Shellers Association is inviting everyone – new and devoted fans – to "think outside the pie" and join Beth and her family by snacking on pecans. Savvy cooks can boost the nutritional values of regular meals by adding pecans to the morning cereal or lunchtime salads. Kids and adults can stir them into muffins or sprinkle them on top of a veggie or brunch casserole. Now is the perfect time: April is National Pecan Month.

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