The most important health benefits of selenium-rich Brazil nuts include their ability to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, aid in skin care, boost weight loss, reduce the signs of aging, regulate thyroid function, and fight anxiety. These nuts also strengthen the immune system, stimulate growth and repair, improve the digestive process, lower the risk of cancer, 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. It’s quite a large tree, so the harvest of Brazil nuts is huge. These nuts are majorly exported from the South American continent and can now be found throughout the world.
There is a concern that Brazil nut production has dropped significantly in recent years, and 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, so with Brazil nuts’ production decreasing, prices may rise in the coming years.
Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts
Brazil nuts are one of the healthiest nuts available, particularly due to their unusually high selenium content. The nuts have an impressive mineral and vitamin profile as they contain thiamin, vitamins E and C, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. They score high among nuts as a high-protein (14%), low carbohydrate (12%) choice. 85% of their calories come from fats, primarily from omega 6-fatty acids. The gluten-free nuts are 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% DV. Selenium is a trace mineral which is extremely vital for the body as it has strong antioxidant power, fights free radicals and soothes inflammation, thus boosting overall health. Studies show that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from selenium deficiency, which makes Brazil nuts an important dietary choice. Selenium also helps reduce toxic mercury levels and thus, the incidence of cancer in the body.
Improve Heart Health
Brazil nuts have a surprisingly high content of healthy unsaturated fats, commonly known as HDL or good forms of cholesterol or 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 connected with balancing the cholesterol profile of the body and improving heart health.
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.
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 Andrology. 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.
The abundant antioxidants in Brazil nuts help in preventing many chronic illnesses, including cancer and coronary heart disease. The glutathione enabled by the presence of selenium is an enzymatic antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in all parts of the body that cause cancer.
Low levels of selenium are linked to anxiety, stress, and tiredness, according to recent research. Also, nut consumption increases the metabolism of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical, which controls mood, appetite, and sleep. Thus, regular intake of Brazil nuts rich in selenium can help relieve the various issues caused by selenium deficiency such as depression, mood issues, fatigue, and stress.
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 where some of the essential hormones in the body are produced, distributed, and regulated from.
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 elasticity of the skin, thereby preventing premature aging. Selenium stimulates the activity of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant compound that can remove free radicals from the skin cells that cause wrinkles and even skin cancer. Also, Brazil nut oil is an excellent emollient which helps prevent skin dryness, eczema, and psoriasis. Additionally, grinding a handful of nuts and mixing it 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, and thereby prevents skin cancer.
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
A lot of people forget about the real 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!
Treats 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.
L-arginine, an amino acid in the nuts, is mainly 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.
Boost Immune System
The antioxidants and organic compounds present in Brazil nuts make it a strong contender for one of the most immune-boosting nuts around. The vitamin C content couples wonderfully with selenium and zinc to stimulate the production of white blood cells and antioxidant compounds throughout the body to neutralize free radicals.
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 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, cramps, and serious conditions like colon cancer. Also, you will find an increase in energy levels and an improvement in weight loss by keeping your system clean and functioning smoothly.
Brazil nuts are a major source of complete protein, with all the essential amino acids, which help to improve and strengthen muscles. They also contain magnesium, which helps prevent 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 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. The vitamin C content couples wonderfully with selenium and zinc to stimulate the production of white blood cells and antioxidant compounds throughout the body to neutralize free radicals. All of this helps in preventing many chronic illnesses, including cancer and coronary heart disease. As mentioned earlier, the glutathione enabled by the presence of selenium is an enzymatic antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in all parts of the body that cause cancer.
Promote Growth & Repair
Protein in 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.
Brazil nuts, rich in thiamin, help keep the nervous system healthy and strong. They also help prevent Alzheimer’s and stress-related mental 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 quickly, as the high content of fat makes these nuts go bad quickly. The extracted oil can remain viable for months if properly extracted and used for similar health benefits offered by Brazil nuts.
Side Effects of Brazil Nuts
There are a few side effects 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. Hence, before making these nuts a major part of your weekly diet, consult your health professional.
- Selenium overdose: Too much selenium can cause 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 dangerous saturated fat in Brazil nuts. So, be careful and don’t consume these nuts in excess, as they are also high in calories. The recommended serving size of this beneficial snack is about six average-sized nuts.
- Allergies: Also, 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.
- Alfatoxins: Raw Brazil nuts may contain alfatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic.