Romaine, Pecan and Pear Salad

It’s National Pecan Month and there’s new evidence to suggest eating just a handful each day may help protect your heart.

Findings from a research study, conducted at Loma Linda University in California, suggest pecans boost antioxidant levels in the body. This boost likely contributed to a drop in unhealthy cholesterol levels in the people who participated in the study. Testing conducted after the participants had eaten pecans showed that a particular type of antioxidant doubled and oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol decreased by one third. Oxidized LDLs are believed to be a culprit in artery inflammation which increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Antioxidants are substances that protect against cell damage. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, apples, artichokes and pecans, among others, may help protect the body against diseases. Peer-reviewed research, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has shown that pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut based on a testing method called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC).

Romaine, Pecan and Pear Salad

Yield: 6 Servings

  • 6 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
  • 1 cup radicchio, washed and torn
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 Bosc pears, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup raspberry or red wine vinaigrette dressing
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese, optional

Place Romaine, radicchio, parsley and shallots in large bowl and toss gently. Arrange pears, pecans and dried cherries on greens. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Top with feta cheese, if desired.

Dressing may be passed separately.

Pecans contain different forms of the antioxidant Vitamin E, known as tocopherols, according to Dr. Ella Haddad, associate professor, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University where the study was conducted. The nuts are especially rich in one form of Vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. It was this type of antioxidant that was shown to double in the human body after eating pecans and likely led to the decrease in bad cholesterol, according to Dr. Haddad.

For more information about pecans, including recipes and photos, visit

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