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Antioxidant-Rich Pecans Protect Against Unhealthy Oxidation in the Body

team found that the pecan-enriched diets significantly reduced lipid oxidation (by 7.4 percent) versus the Step I diet. Oxidation levels were evaluated using the TBARS test, which measures oxidation products. The researchers also found that blood levels of tocopherols were higher after participants were on the pecan diet. Cholesterol-adjusted plasma gamma-tocopherol in the study participants’ blood samples increased by 10.1 percent (P < .001) after eating the pecan diet. The researchers concluded that these data provide some evidence for potential protective effects of pecan consumption in healthy individuals.

Another key research finding, beyond the reduced level of blood lipid oxidation, was that the various phytochemicals found in pecans seem to be protective of the pecan’s high levels of unsaturated fat. All unsaturated fats in foods can be prone to oxidation themselves (which some may describe in foods as rancidity). So, did eating pecans lead to an increased risk of oxidation? No, according to this analysis, which found that pecans, while high in unsaturated fat, are 'self-protective' due to their vitamin E content (tocopherols) and relatively high content of complex phytonutrients, some of which have been identified as proanthocyanidins, or condensed tannins, which are recognized for their ability to slow the oxidation process.

'We concluded that even though the pecan diet was high in unsaturated fats, which one may think would increase blood oxidation, that did not happen. We found the opposite result: the pecan diet showed reduced oxidation of blood lipids,' states Dr. Haddad.

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