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J Nutr. 2011 Jan;141(1):56-62. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.121269. Epub 2010 Nov 24.

Pecans acutely increase plasma postprandial antioxidant capacity and catechins and decrease LDL oxidation in humans.

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Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA.


Bioactive constituents of pecan nuts such as γ-tocopherol and flavan-3-ol monomers show antioxidant properties in vitro, but bioavailability in humans is not known. We examined postprandial changes in plasma oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and in concentrations of tocopherols, catechins, oxidized LDL, and malondialdehyde (MDA) in response to pecan test meals. Sixteen healthy men and women (23-44 y, BMI 22.7 ± 3.4) were randomly assigned to 3 sequences of test meals composed of whole pecans, blended pecans, or an isocaloric meal of equivalent macronutrient composition but formulated of refined ingredients in a crossover design with a 1-wk washout period between treatments. Blood was sampled at baseline and at intervals up to 24 h postingestion. Following the whole and blended pecan test meals, plasma concentrations of γ-tocopherols doubled at 8 h (P < 0.001) and hydrophilic- and lipophilic-ORAC increased 12 and 10% at 2 h, respectively. Post whole pecan consumption, oxidized LDL decreased 30, 33, and 26% at 2, 3, and 8 h, respectively (P < 0.05), and epigallocatechin-3-gallate concentrations at 1 h (mean ± SEM; 95.1 ± 30.6 nmol/L) and 2 h (116.3 ± 80.5 nmol/L) were higher than at baseline (0 h) and after the control test meal at 1 h (P < 0.05). The postprandial molar ratio of MDA:triglycerides decreased by 37, 36, and 40% at 3, 5, and 8 h, respectively (P < 0.05), only when whole and blended pecan data were pooled. These results show that bioactive constituent of pecans are absorbable and contribute to postprandial antioxidant defenses.

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