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NC Seasonal Sensation – The Pecan

In a week, North Carolinians across our state will gather around the dinner table and give thanks for our blessings in life. We’ll indulge in all the holiday favorites that make Thanksgiving a meal to remember. And if I have it my way, those favorites will be as healthy as they are delicious.

Just in time for the holidays, North Carolina’s Seasonal Sensation is the pecan. Pecans are packed with antioxidants, like Vitamin E that may protect against heart disease. Pecans also contain plant sterols, fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, all of which may help lower cholesterol levels. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

This Thanksgiving, try a healthy pecan dish in place of one that’s loaded with unwanted fat and calories, like sweet potato pecan casserole or spiced pecans, both perfectly delicious for the holiday season. Or take it from, which shares great tips on how to cut 150 calories and five grams of fat from a traditional pecan pie. 

Healthy Eating for a Happy Thanksgiving

Healthy eating is all about balance. This Thanksgiving, remember to eat in moderation by practicing proper portion control. Make smart decisions about what you put on your plate with these healthy tips from Here are the highlights:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less; eat slowly and savor every bite
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Make sure at least half of your grains are whole grains
  • Use a smaller plate to help control portion sizes

Also, on Thanksgiving morning, eat breakfast. Don’t skip meals to “save up” calories only to gorge yourself at dinner. Remember, you’re giving thanks for what you appreciate most. Your body is at the top of that list, right? Instead of stuffing yourself, enjoy a well-balanced breakfast with a nutritious meal like oatmeal topped with two tablespoons of toasted, chopped pecans. Add fruit for extra fiber and sweetness.

 Lastly, after the holiday feast, head outside for a breath of fresh air. Go on a walk or a hike. Start a friendly game of flag football, basketball or soccer. Build a fire, fly a kite, go for a bike ride. Grab your family and friends and enjoy a little post-Thanksgiving exercise with these family friendly fall activities.

Here’s to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Amy Bowen is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital.