Celebrate National Pecan Month
April is National Pecan Month - a time to celebrate the "All American Nut" for its delicious taste and numerous health benefits. Pecans are the only tree nut indigenous to North America, and they have quite a history on this continent. In recent years, research has shown pecans are also a great natural source of antioxidants (vitamin E), fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.
On April 6, 2001, the goodness and wholesome of pecans was proclaimed in the U.S. Congressional Record, and National Pecan Month was established. Senator Max Cleland (D-Georgia) asked his colleagues to join him in celebrating National Pecan Month, which now takes place every April.
So join us in celebrating National Pecan Month.
- Delicious, Nutritious Recipes
- Fun Facts About Pecans
- From the Tree to Your Table: How the Pecan Industry brings your favorite nut to your home.
- Tips for Buying, Storing & Using Pecans
- Nutritional Content of Pecans (pdf)
- 2008 National Pecan Month
Senator Max Cleland Invites the Nation to Celebrate National Pecan Month
[Congressional Record: April 6, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
NATIONAL PECAN MONTH
Mr. CLELAND. Mr. President, April is "National Pecan Month.'' One of the nation's important agricultural products, pecans are the only major tree nut that can be considered a true American nut. Pecans were first discovered growing in North America and parts of Mexico in the 1600's and were given the name "pecan'' based on the Native American word of Algonquin origin, meaning "all nuts requiring a stone to crack.'' Pecans were favored by pre-colonial residents and served as a major source of food because they were accessible to waterways and easier to shell than other North American nut species.
Today, pecans are grown in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas and are enjoyed around the world as the perfect nut. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, over 346 million pounds of pecans were produced in the U.S. in 1999. In fact, the majority of the world's pecan production, 80 percent, comes from the U.S.
While valued for their wonderful aroma and flavor, scientific research has begun to recently reveal an even more important reason to make pecans part of an everyday, healthy diet. According to researchers at leading academic institutions in this country, pecans have many of the important nutritional attributes that health professionals recommend. Not only are nutrition researchers finding that pecans can lower blood cholesterol levels when incorporated into the diet, food scientists have also found that pecans are a concentrated source of plant sterols, which are widely touted for their cholesterol-lowering ability. Numerous studies have also shown that phytochemicals like those found in pecans act as antioxidants, which can have a protective effect against many diseases.
Since 90 percent of the fat in pecans are of the heart-healthy unsaturated variety, they fit right into the government's latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued in May 2000. The latest dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association, AHA, also bode well for pecan lovers. The new AHA guidelines specifically advise Americans to limit their intake of saturated fat and to "substitute grains and unsaturated fatty acids from fish, vegetables, legumes and nuts'' in its place.
In addition to their cholesterol-lowering properties and heart- healthy fats, pecans contain more than 19 important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and several B vitamins, and are a good source of fiber. Pecans are part of the protein group in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid, making them a nutritious alternative for Americans who are vegetarians or striving to eat a more plant-based diet. Pecans, which are naturally sodium-free, are also ideal for anyone who wishes to restrict their sodium intake.
Pecans, a true all-American nut, deserve to be recognized. Not only for their long history of providing sustenance and enjoyment, but for the health benefits they can provide to Americans--especially those striving to eat a healthier diet. I hope my colleagues will join me in celebrating "National Pecan Month.''
Photo courtesy of the Georgia Pecan Commission