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Pecans and Vitamin E

University of Georgia (UGA) researchers say pecans are a consistent, rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E, no matter where they're grown in the United States.

"This study helped to demonstrate that basically all pecans are created equal when it comes to this important antioxidant," says study author Ron Eitenmiller, a food scientist at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

He analyzed pecans grown in two different years in several states, finding that their vitamin E content was stable, regardless of the year, variety or region. The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Food Science.

Eitenmiller says pecans have both the alpha and gamma tocopheral forms of vitamin E. The alpha form has been most studied for its health benefits but the gamma form is now also receiving close scrutiny.

"Vitamin E is the primary antioxidant we use. It protects our bodies when chemical reactions produce oxidation in the body, which can be dangerous. Antioxidants, in essence, serve as a tool that inhibits oxidative stress that can be detrimental to many cellular functions," Eitenmiller says.

But humans don't make their own vitamin E, so we have to get it from plant sources. They include: pecans and other tree nuts such as walnuts, cashews, almonds and pistachios; peanut products; and liquid vegetable oils.

Vitamin E isn't the only benefit offered by pecans. They're a good source of fiber and contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals. They may even be good for your heart.

Now for the bad news. While pecans themselves are beneficial, there's nothing here that says you can actually consider pecan pie a health food.

More information

For details on the health benefits of pecans, visit Texas A&M University.


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