Pecans may help prevent obesity and reduce inflammation, study shows

Daily consumption of pecans have been shown to prevent obesity and a host of related health issues like fatty liver disease and diabetes, according to a collaborative study by Texas A&M AgriLife scientists.

Obesity and diabetes numbers are increasing in modern society worldwide, and the trend in high fat diet consumption is one of the main reasons besides lifestyle and genetic predisposition. People are searching for healthier options, and we have now shown pecans are a healthy tool consumers have in their hands."

Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, Ph.D., professor of horticulture and food science in the Department of Horticultural Sciences in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and affiliate scientist in the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture

Cisneros-Zevallos, principal investigator for the study, published "Pecans and Its Polyphenols Prevent Obesity, Hepatic Steatosis and Diabetes by Reducing Dysbiosis, Inflammation and Increasing Energy Expenditure in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet" in MDPI.

Cisneros-Zevallos's work provides scientific evidence supporting the traditional knowledge in the Americas that pecans are highly nutritious, said Amit Dhingra, Ph.D., head of the Department of Horticultural Sciences.

"Thanks to Dr. Cisneros-Zevallos' work, we now know what potential mechanisms underlie that nutritional benefit," he said. "Our department is focused on the areas of sustainability, wellness and food security, and this research illustrates the relevance of horticultural crops for human health."

Pecans provide health benefits

The study was conducted by an interdisciplinary collaborative team including Claudia Delgadillo-Puga, Ph.D., and Ivan Torre-Villalvazo, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubiran, Mexico.

Cisneros-Zevallos said researchers applied pecans and high fat diets to mice models and found that pecans increased energy expenditure and reduced dysbiosis and inflammation. The study confirmed that pecans modulate adipose tissue lipolysis and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism in liver and skeletal muscle.

He also noted the anti-inflammatory properties of pecans observed in the study reduced low-grade inflammation that leads to chronic inflammation and the development of a range of prevalent diseases. He added that this also shows pecans maintain body weight and prevent diabetes despite consuming a high fat diet.

The new functionality can make pecans a superfood, which can be consumed directly or utilized in the growing markets of functional foods and dietary supplements.

Identifying new ways to consume pecans

"This observation is key when designing strategies for studies, the more we know of unique functionalities of pecans, the more possibilities to create healthier products," Cisneros-Zevallos said. "Pecans are of economic and historical importance to Texas and the U.S., and their production provides stability to farmers. This work will aid in the development of novel uses and products from pecans."

This study was supported by the Texas Pecan Board, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture at Texas A&M AgriLife.

Source:
Journal reference:

Delgadillo-Puga, C., et al. (2023). Pecans and Its Polyphenols Prevent Obesity, Hepatic Steatosis and Diabetes by Reducing Dysbiosis, Inflammation, and Increasing Energy Expenditure in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet. Nutrients. doi.org/10.3390/nu15112591.

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