Here's why you should start eating more pecans

Pecans are one of America's most valued nuts. There are countless varieties, sizes and uses, according to the National Pecan Shellers Association. Beyond Thanksgiving pie, pecans have a plethora of culinary uses and health benefits. While some nuts get a bad rap, pecans are one you should definitely put on your to-eat list.

According to Good Housekeeping, pecans are packed with antioxidants, help fight heart disease, lower the risk of dementia, and can help with your diet (in moderation, of course). If you're watching your carbs, a serving of pecans has one of the lowest carb counts and highest fiber counts of any nut, according to the American Pecan Council.

If you're used to avoiding nuts due to their calorie density, it may be time to rethink that practice. The fat contained in nuts includes healthy monounsaturated fat, which can actually lower cravings, and help satiate you for longer periods of time. In fact, research has shown that some of the calories may not be absorbed at all (via Healthline).

How to add more pecans into your daily life

Now that you've stocked up on pecans, what are you going to do with them? They're great all by themselves, or paired with fruits and cheese. Toasted pecans are always delicious, but if you're a newbie to toasting nuts, it's best to avoid the stovetop and oven, and opt forĀ microwave toasting instead.

For a bit more kitchen creativity, Taste of Home suggests adding nuts like pecans to salads, cereal, side dishes, and stir fries. Think of anything that would benefit from a little added crunch, or a bit of added protein. You can grind pecans up and put them in your morning smoothie. You can chop pecans and add them to your favorite peanut butter. Pecans are also tasty sprinkled in cookies, on top of cakes, and swirled in ice cream (butter pecan, anyone?). Of course, if you eat too much sugar, you may be negating the health benefits of pecans, so don't go, well, nuts.