21 Nutritious Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Selenium-rich Brazil nuts possess a number of health benefits, including their ability to reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, improve heart health, aid in skin care, boost weight loss, and relieve anxiety. These nuts with an exotic name also have been known to improve the digestive process and boost male fertility.

What are Brazil Nuts?

Brazil nuts (scientifically known as Bertholletia excelsa)are a nutrient-dense and delicious type of nuts that come from a tree in South America bearing the same name. The tree is native to South American countries – including Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil – and can often be found along the banks of major rivers. These nuts are majorly exported from the South American continent and can now be found throughout the world.

According to a study in the journal Science, there is a concern that Brazil nut production has dropped significantly in recent years. Thus, it is now illegal to cut down a Brazil nut tree in Brazil. These trees almost exclusively produce fruit in undisturbed forests, and the plants are somewhat fragile. Given Brazil nuts’ production decreasing, many expect prices to rise in the coming years.

Watch Video: 7 Amazing Benefits Of Brazil Nuts

7 Amazing Benefits Of Brazil Nuts | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched
Serving Size :
Water [g]3.42
Energy [kcal]659
Energy [kJ]2757
Protein [g]14.32
Total lipid (fat) [g]67.1
Ash [g]3.43
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]11.74
Fiber, total dietary [g]7.5
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]2.33
Sucrose [g]2.33
Starch [g]0.25
Calcium, Ca [mg]160
Iron, Fe [mg]2.43
Magnesium, Mg [mg]376
Phosphorus, P [mg]725
Potassium, K [mg]659
Sodium, Na [mg]3
Zinc, Zn [mg]4.06
Copper, Cu [mg]1.74
Manganese, Mn [mg]1.22
Selenium, Se [µg]1917
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0.7
Thiamin [mg]0.62
Riboflavin [mg]0.04
Niacin [mg]0.3
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.18
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.1
Folate, total [µg]22
Folate, food [µg]22
Folate, DFE [µg]22
Choline, total [mg]28.8
Betaine [mg]0.4
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]5.65
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.01
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]9.56
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.63
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.17
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]16.13
14:0 [g]0.05
16:0 [g]9.63
17:0 [g]0.04
18:0 [g]6.24
20:0 [g]0.17
22:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]23.88
16:1 [g]0.21
17:1 [g]0.05
18:1 [g]23.59
20:1 [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]24.4
18:2 [g]24.36
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]23.86
18:3 [g]0.04
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.02
18:3 n-6 c,c,c [g]0.02
Stigmasterol [mg]6
Campesterol [mg]2
Beta-sitosterol [mg]64
Tryptophan [g]0.14
Threonine [g]0.37
Isoleucine [g]0.52
Leucine [g]1.19
Lysine [g]0.49
Methionine [g]1.12
Cystine [g]0.31
Phenylalanine [g]0.64
Tyrosine [g]0.42
Valine [g]0.76
Arginine [g]2.14
Histidine [g]0.41
Alanine [g]0.61
Aspartic acid [g]1.33
Glutamic acid [g]3.19
Glycine [g]0.73
Proline [g]0.71
Serine [g]0.68
Sources include : USDA

Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts

Brazil nuts are one of the healthiest nuts available, particularly due to their unusually high selenium content. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the nuts are a rich source of energy and protein and have an impressive mineral and vitamin profile.

According to studies published in the journal Nutrients, Brazil nuts are rich in antioxidants and have high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). The nuts are naturally gluten-free nuts and an excellent source of dietary fiber, too.

Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts

There is a huge demand for these delicious brown nuts in the market due to their powerful health benefits. Let us discuss the benefits in detail:

Top Source of Selenium

Brazil nuts are the number one source of selenium, with one ounce (about 6 kernels) serving 774 percent of the daily value. Selenium is a trace mineral which is extremely vital for the body, as it has strong antioxidant powers, fights free radicals and soothing inflammation. Studies show that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from selenium deficiency, with the risk said to increase with climate change difficulties, which makes Brazil nuts an important dietary choice.

Improve Heart Health

As per a study conducted in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition consumption of nuts helps in lowering bad cholesterol by more than 25 percent due to their nutrient profiles. However, further research is needed to determine exactly why Brazil nuts have such a beneficial effect on heart health.

Brazil nuts have a surprisingly high content of healthy unsaturated fats, commonly known as omega-3 fatty acids. This includes oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These varieties of unsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium content in Brazil nuts are, thus, connected with balancing the cholesterol profile of the body and improving heart health.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

The high ellagic acid and selenium levels in the nuts make it a top anti-inflammatory food source. Ellagic acid also has potent neuroprotective properties. Furthermore, zinc in Brazil nuts reduces inflammations and helps flush out toxins.

Boost Testosterone Levels

Brazil nuts, with their high selenium content, are often called a testosterone superfood. Dietary selenium can help to improve sperm quality, motility, and volume, according to a research study published in the Journal of Urology. This, in turn, is linked with testosterone levels in men as higher the testosterone, higher the sperm count. L-arginine in the nuts is also an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.

A bowl filled with Brazil nuts on a wooden background

A bowl filled with brazil nuts Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Antioxidant Properties

The abundant antioxidants in Brazil nuts may contribute to preventing many chronic illnesses. This is confirmed in a study conducted at the Department of Surgical Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. The glutathione enabled by the presence of selenium is an enzymatic antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in all parts of the body.

Mood Lifter

Low levels of selenium have been linked to anxiety, stress, and tiredness, according to recent research cited in Biological Psychiatry. Nut consumption increases the metabolism of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical, which controls mood, appetite, and sleep. Thus, regular intake of selenium-rich Brazil nuts rich in selenium can help relieve the various issues caused by selenium deficiency.

Regulate Thyroid Gland

The selenium content in Brazil nuts plays a major role in the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is the location from which some of the essential hormones in the body are produced, distributed, and regulated.

Skin Care

The comprehensive profile of vitamins and nutrients in Brazil nuts makes it particularly good for improving skin health. The selenium, omega 3-fatty acids, and vitamins C and E in Brazil nuts give the skin a healthy glow and improve the skin’s elasticity, thereby reducing the signs of aging. Selenium stimulates the activity of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant compound that can remove free radicals from the skin cells that cause wrinkles. Also, Brazil nut oil is an excellent emollient, helping prevent skin dryness, eczema, and psoriasis. Additionally, grinding a handful of nuts and mixing this with an egg makes for a deeply nourishing skin exfoliator.

Protects from UV Radiation

Copper in Brazil nuts aids in the production of melanin, a color pigment that protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.

Treat Acne

The high zinc content in Brazil nuts has been shown to protect against acne or lessen its appearance. This can be achieved through normal consumption of the nuts or by application of Brazil nut oil on the affected area. The rich vitamin and antioxidant content of the oil is the main cause of this protective quality.

High Protein Nut

Many people forget about the importance of protein in their diet, particularly if they are on a restricted diet or are a vegetarian. So, a handful of these nuts can be a helpful boost to keep your protein levels up!

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc, in Brazil nuts, helps treat Acrodermatitis enteropathica. This is a rare genetic disorder in which the body is unable to absorb sufficient amounts of zinc.

Hair Care

L-arginine, an amino acid in the nuts, is often used to treat alopecia or male baldness as it encourages the growth of lustrous, thick hair. Brazil nuts are also rich in omega 3s, vitamin E, and selenium, which help to make the hair shiny, healthy, and less prone to breakage.

Weight Loss

Brazil nuts, which are high in protein and fiber, make for a nutrient-dense snack for weight watchers. They keep you feeling full for a longer time.

Stimulate the Digestive System

The fiber content of Brazil nuts makes them great for tuning up your digestive system. Fiber facilitates peristaltic motion in the gastrointestinal system, moving food through the digestive system and extracting as many nutrients as possible. This can also help you prevent gastric ulcers, constipation, bloating, and cramps. Also, you will find an increase in energy levels and an improvement in weight loss by keeping your system clean and functioning smoothly.

Muscle Function

Brazil nuts are a major source of complete protein, with all the essential amino acids present, which helps to improve and strengthen muscles. They also contain magnesium, which also aids in the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, thus preventing soreness.

Improve Bone Mineral Density

The copper content in the Brazil nut helps to improve bone mineral density and in the formation of bone tissues. It also helps in the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.

Boost Immune System

Any food that has such a high concentration of nutrients is helpful for strengthening the immune system. The antioxidants and organic compounds present in this nut make it a strong contender for one of the most immune-boosting nuts around, as per a study conducted at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. Vitamin C couples wonderfully with selenium and zinc to stimulate the production of white blood cells and antioxidant compounds throughout the body to neutralize free radicals.

Promote Growth & Repair

The protein content of these nuts is necessary for cellular growth, repair, and wound healing. Vitamin C, in Brazil nuts, is also a major component of collagen, another essential part of human growth and repair of blood vessels, tissues, and cells.

Facilitate Nutrient Uptake

The high magnesium levels found in Brazil nuts help stimulate efficient nutrient uptake in the digestive system, which means that we get as many benefits as possible from our food. Zinc is also one of the hardest elements our body needs, and Brazil nuts’ natural high levels and facilitation of nutrient uptake helps balance that common deficiency.

Mental Health

Brazil nuts, rich in thiamin (vitamin B1), help keep the nervous system healthy and strong. They are also thought to help relieve stress-related disorders.

How to eat Brazil nuts?

Brazil nuts can either be eaten in the whole form or their essential oil can be extracted and used for many direct remedies. It is important to eat shelled Brazil nuts in a timely manner, as the high content of fat makes these nuts spoil. The extracted oil can remain viable for months if properly extracted, and is used for similar health benefits offered by Brazil nuts.

Side Effects of Brazil Nuts

There are a few side effects that one may experience if these nuts are consumed in excess. They are as follows:

  • Weight gain: Despite this wide array of health benefits, Brazil nuts have a high level of calories and saturated fat. So before making these nuts a major part of your weekly diet, consult your health professional on the appropriate amount or portion size for you.
  • Selenium overdose: Too much selenium may have negative effects, including fatigue, stomach upset, and hair loss.
  • Heart issues: Even though their ability to balance cholesterol levels can help prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, we can’t overlook the presence of high amounts of its saturated fat content in Brazil nuts. So, be careful about consuming these nuts in excess. The recommended serving size of this beneficial snack is about six average-sized nuts. Consult cardiology of primary care doctor if you are unsure if these nuts are safe for you.
  • Allergies: As with all nuts, Brazil nut allergies can be quite severe. So, be sure to be tested for any potential nut allergy before consuming these nuts, particularly in oil form.
  • Aflatoxins: Raw Brazil nuts may contain aflatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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