Consuming pecans every day may help prevent fatty liver disease, diabetes and other obesity-related health issues, according to a new study by Texas A&M AgriLife researchers.

“Obesity and diabetes numbers are increasing in modern society worldwide, and the trend in high-fat diet consumption is one of the main reasons besides lifestyle and genetic predisposition,” said Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, PhD, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of horticulture and food science in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in a news release. “People are searching for healthier options, and we have now shown pecans are a healthy tool consumers have in their hands.”

Often referred to as “silent diseases,” non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are responsible for a growing proportion of advanced liver disease, mirroring a global rise in obesity. Fatty liver disease can lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and even liver cancer. With no effective approved medical therapies, management depends on lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise.

Published in MDPI, the study applied pecans and high-fat diets to mice models. Results showed that pecans increased energy expenditure and reduced inflammation and dysbiosis, an imbalance between microorganisms in the gut, which can lead to stomach or other health issues, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, according to Healthline.

Cisneros-Zevallos said the anti-inflammatory properties of pecans helped reduce low-grade inflammation that contributes to chronic inflammation. Pecans also helped maintain body weight and prevent diabetes.

“This work will aid in the development of novel uses and products from pecans,” said Cisneros-Zevallos of the study.