Celebrating Arizona Pecans on Rosie on the House
“Pecans are America’s nut,” explained Deborah Walden Ralls, Green Valley Pecans Vice President of Industry Relations, this past weekend on KTAR’s Rosie on the House show during the “Farm Fresh” hour at 8:00 am. When you discover Pecans are indigenous to North America and that the approximately 1,000 pecan varieties are mostly named after Native American tribes, it makes sense to call these very popular and healthy tree nuts America’s nut.
Walden Ralls is part of a third-generation family farm in Arizona that started with her grandfather Keith Walden after switching from traditional crops like wheat, cotton and alfalfa. In fact, Green Valley Pecans was once the world’s largest vertically integrated, family-owned pecan farm until another American-based pecan farm took over the distinction a few years ago.
While our pie bakers may know it takes an average of 78 pecans to make a pecan pie, they may not know that pecans are heart-healthy and contain 19 vitamins and minerals. And, pecan trees are alternate bearing and have a bountiful crop only every other year.
During the show, we asked Walden Ralls all sorts of questions about the pecan including other health benefits, how to care for a pecan tree, what inspired her grandfather to plant a pecan orchard and so much more. Our favorite part was hearing her recipe suggestions. After this list of pecan facts, listen to the radio segment embedded in this article below.
1 Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods and supplements
developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.
Just the Facts
These facts below are provided by the National Pecan Shellers Association, the American Pecan Council and the Walden family.
- A handful of pecans (about 19 halves) is packed with fiber, zinc, important vitamins such as E, and other essential minerals that support strong bones and good digestion.
- Pecans also contain superior levels of antioxidant flavonoids and natural plant sterols, known for their cholesterol-lowering abilities, more than any other tree nut.
- In fact, pecans have the highest antioxidant content of any tree nut and are the only nut to rank in the top 20 antioxidant-rich foods.
- Each one-ounce serving is lower in carbohydrates and higher in dietary fiber compared to other nuts and contains 12 grams of monounsaturated (good) fat.
- A one-ounce serving provides 10% of the Daily Recommended Intake for fiber.
- Pecans are high in healthy unsaturated fat that can lower total blood cholesterol and preserve high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol.
- Sixty percent of the fats in pecans are monounsaturated and another 30 percent are polyunsaturated, leaving very little saturated fat in pecans. In addition, pecans contain no trans-fat.
- Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.
- Pecans are naturally sodium free.
- Today, the U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world’s pecan supply. The top states are Georgia, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.
- Perhaps due to glaciation, pecans died out in Europe about 2 million years ago. The tree survived in North America and Mexico, however.
- Before 1920, pecans were “hand-shelled” by consumers. In 1920, commercial shelling equipment made it much easier for us to enjoy these delicacies and consumption dramatically in the 1920s and after.
- According to National Pecan Shellers Association consumer research conducted in 2011: Pecan halves are the preferred form of the nut used in cooking and baking.
- The pecan’s merits as a wholesome and convenient snack continue to be discovered.
Check out what else Walden Ralls says about this healthy nut. She may be partial since she’s a pecan farmer, but she reveals some exciting truths about this versatile nut.