Pecans (Carya illinoinensis) are rich sources of polyphenolic compounds and nutrients, which have antioxidant capacity results in favorable reductions in plasma lipids and lipoproteins. However, the health benefits of pecans may not be limited to blood lipid changes. There has been very little investigation into the contribution of bioactive components found in nuts to antioxidant protection. The purposes of the study were 1) to determine the impact of pecan consumption on concentration of total plasma polyphenols and their peak concentration over time. 2) to measure the effect of a pecan diet on postprandial levels of plasma lipid peroxidation and on plasma antioxidant capacity. Sixteen healthy subjects participated in our randomized 3x3 crossover study. A test meal of whole pecan, ground pecan or purified olive oil (control) was given to each subject immediately after a baseline blood draw. Blood specimens were collected thereafter at 1-, 2-, 3-, 5-, 8-, and 24-h. The study was split into 2 phases, with 8 subjects in each phase. Results were said to be significant at p =< 0.05. Total polyphenols reached the highest level at 5-h after the baseline draw for the pecan meal. The ORAC and FRAP assays each reached their highest level at 2-h (ground pecan, p = 0.001 and whole pecan, p = 0.002). TEARS decreased the greatest at 8-h (p = 0.013) and oxidized LDL at 3-h (p = 0.018). Our results indicate that antioxidants found in pecans may increase antioxidant capacity and ability, and therefore decrease oxidative stress. Regular consumption of pecans may contribute to a reduction in chronic and age-related diseases.




School of Public Health

First Advisor

Ella Haddad

Second Advisor

Joan Sabate

Third Advisor

Sujatha Rajaram

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Carya; Nuts -- chemistry; Plants, Edible; Nutritive Value; Postprandial Periods; Phenols -- therapeutic use; Antioxidants -- metabolism; Dietary Fats, Unsaturated -- therapeutic use; Lipid Peroxides; Oxidation-Reduction; Cardiovascular Diseases -- prevention & control; Neoplasms -- prevention & control; Prospective Studies.



Page Count

xi; 160

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives