The American Heart Association (AHA) has added Georgia pecans to its list of certified heart-healthy foods.
After an extensive certification process, packages of Georgia pecan halves and Georgia pecan pieces will now display the Heart-Check mark signifying its heart-healthy status.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. A diet low in fat and cholesterol can decrease a person's risk of heart attack and stroke. The Heart-Check mark is an easy way for consumers to recognize better choices on supermarket shelves.
In order to become certified, nuts must meet the AHA's certification criteria, which limits added fats and carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium. Products must also include at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one of six beneficial nutrients.
(This is good news for the Georgia pecan industry which has a united front. But one thing Georgia growers can’t always agree on is how to pronounce ‘pecan’. For a look at that discussion, click here ).
Dr. Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., the Bickford Green and Gold Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont and an American Heart Association spokesperson said, "We know that consumers have relied on the American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark to easily identify heart-healthy foods for more than 15 years.
“Adding nuts, fish and other foods that are rich sources of good fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, enhances the program and gives more healthy options consumers can choose from with the same trust factor."
A one-ounce serving of Georgia pecans (halves and pieces) contains 3 grams of dietary fiber and more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium and zinc.
Pecans may also reduce cholesterol. Research from California's Loma Linda University and New Mexico State University shows levels of LDL cholesterol (the so-called "bad cholesterol") drop when pecans are part of a daily diet.
Pecans get their cholesterol-lowering ability from a type of "good fat" found in the nuts, and the presence of beta-sitosterol, a natural cholesterol-lowering compound.
Eating one-and-a-half ounces of pecans a day (27 to 30 pecan halves), as part of a heart-healthy diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
"Georgia pecans are heart-healthy and taste delicious," stated Duke Lane, Jr., chairman of the Georgia Pecan Commission. "We're pleased the American Heart Association has recognized the health benefits of Georgia-grown pecans.
" Founded in 1995, The Georgia Pecan Commission is comprised of all Georgia pecan growers with 30 acres or more of pecan-producing farmland. The Commission funds research, educational and promotional programs to increase awareness and raise demand for Georgia Pecans.
Historically, Georgia produces more pecans each year than any other state in the nation.
To learn more about Georgia pecans, visit http://www.AntioxiNUT.org .
The American Heart Association established the Heart-Check mark in 1995 to give consumers an easy, reliable system for identifying heart-healthy foods as a first step in building a sensible eating plan. Nearly 900 products that bear the Heart-Check mark have been screened and verified by the association to meet criteria for heart-healthy foods.
To learn more about the Heart-Check mark, and to see a complete list of certified products and participating companies, visit http://www.heartcheckmark.org .