Food Facts Friday: Pecans
Fall is harvest time for new pecans. At their freshest, these nuts are sweet and crunchy. If you are wondering about including pecans in a kidney diet, read on to learn the facts.
Pecans are a member of the walnut family. The nuts grow in a stippled brown shell. Pecans can be eaten raw or used in cooking. They have a robust, buttery flavor and can be added to sweet and savory dishes. In addition, they have many health benefits and contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
Serving Size and Nutrition Facts
A suggested serving size of pecans is 1 ounce, which is about 15 pecan halves. An average serving size contains:
- 200 calories
- 2 g saturated fat
- 12 g monounsaturated fat
- 6 g polyunsaturated fat
- 4 g carbohydrate
- 3 g fiber
- 3 g protein
- 20 mg calcium
- 116 mg potassium
- 79 mg phosphorus
Pecans are naturally sodium-free. Look for unsalted pecans when monitoring sodium intake.
Nearly 90% of the fats in pecans are considered healthy fats coming from both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources. The American Heart Association5 recognizes pecans as a heart healthy food. Pecans may be beneficial for people with kidney disease who also have heart disease.
Pecans are a good source of plant fiber. One serving contains 3 grams of fiber and 2.6 grams of protein. Pecans contain phytate, an organic phosphorus compound that occurs naturally in nuts and other plant foods. Phosphorus in this form is not broken down and absorbed as much by the digestive system compared to other forms of phosphorus. Therefore, part of the phosphorus in pecans never reaches the bloodstream.
Pecans, like other nuts, are high in potassium. This does not mean they are off limits on a kidney diet. However, limiting the amount and how often pecans are consumed is suggested. The suggested portion size of pecans may be less than 1 ounce. It is easy to eat more than this amount if snacking on pecans. Caution with portion size should be used when eating or baking with pecans. Consider using the 25% rule. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of pecans, reduce the amount to 1/4 cup.
Protein, phosphorus and potassium intake should be considered when determining if pecans can be incorporated as a part of your diet. Be sure to ask your dietitian about the best portions for your diet.
Ways to Eat Pecans
Pecans can be eaten raw, baked in desserts or cooked in savory dishes. When aiming for high protein, try adding a small amount of pecans to a high protein dish such as Chicken Salad for an extra boost. Trail mix containing pecans can be a great snack if you are looking for additional calories. Just remember to monitor your portion size! Be careful around the holidays as potassium and phosphorus can add up quick. Pecans can be found in many classic dishes such as pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, holiday breads and cookies and more. Try one of these kidney-friendly recipes that include pecans.
- Christmas Cranberry Salad
- Pear and Cranberry Salad with Honey-Ginger Dressing
- Red, White and Blue Salad
- Strawberry Delight
1. Crunch on This…A Fresh Look at Nuts for Renal Nutrition. White, Joanne, Journal of Renal Nutrition, Volume 27, Issue 2, e7 – e9.
- History of Pecans. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://uspecans.org/history-of-pecans/ . Accessed October 2019.
- Nutty Pecan Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ilovepecans.org/nutty-pecan-facts/. Accessed October 2019.
- Pecan. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pecan . Accessed October 2019.
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/SimpleCookingandRecipes/Go-Nuts-But-just-a-little_UCM_430103_Article.jsp#.XcCXWZWWzoo . Accessed October 2019.
Additional Kidney Diet Resources
Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:
- DaVita Diet Helper online meal planner and tracker
- DaVita Kidney-Friendly recipes
- Today’s Kidney Diet cookbooks
- Diet and Nutrition articles
- Kidney Diet and Nutrition Hub
- Kidney Smart® Classes taught by kidney experts in your area
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.