In the fall of 1900 two young sons of J. H. Burkett, Omar and Joe found nuts from the parent of the original Burkett pecan tree. When the boys told their father they found the pecans in a squirrel nest, he urged them to return and find the tree that bore them. After some searching they found the parent tree growing on the south bank of Battle Fish Creek, Callahan County, Texas, and obtained some bud-wood, which their father grafted onto a second-growth seedling. Although only two buds grew, they produced the first two nuts in 1905. In 1908 one bud was destroyed, and by 1910 the parent tree had been destroyed also. The other grafted bud grew into the tree now known as the original Burkett pecan. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Burkett paper shell pecan was the most popular variety of pecan because of its thin shell, unusual flavor, and large size. The Burkett pecan was officially named for its breeder by the Texas Nut Growers Association at a meeting in Waco. In 1966 the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker at the site of the tree. The original Burkett pecan is located on the north side of Interstate 20 one-half mile east of Farm Road 880, near the Eastland-Callahan county line.
Pecans are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. A diet rich in nuts can lower the risk of gallstones in women. The antioxidants and plant sterols found in pecans reduce high cholesterol by reducing the "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.
Clinical research published in the Journal of Nutrition (September 2001) found that eating about a handful of pecans each day may help lower cholesterol levels similar to what is often seen with cholesterol-lowering medications. Research conducted at the University of Georgia has also confirmed that pecans contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged this and related research and approved the following qualified health claim: "Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
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