Brazil Nuts: Health Benefits, Nutrition, & Side Effects

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

Selenium-rich Brazil nuts possess several health benefits. These may include the ability to reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, improve heart health, aid in skin care, boost weight loss, and relieve anxiety. They also 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. The tree is native to South American countries – including Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. These nuts export from the South American continent and are found throughout the world.

According to a study in the journal Science, 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. [1]

Nutrition Facts

Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched
Serving Size :
Water [g]3.42
Energy 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 [2]

Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts

Brazil nuts are the healthiest nuts available, particularly due to their high selenium content. According to USDA FoodData Central, the nuts are a rich source of energy and protein, with an important mineral and vitamin profile. [3]

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients [4], Brazil nuts are rich in antioxidants and have high monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). The nuts are known to be naturally gluten-free and an excellent source of dietary fiber. [5]

Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts

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

Possibly A Top Source of Selenium

Brazil nuts are possibly rich in selenium, with one ounce (about six kernels) serving 774 percent of the daily value. Selenium is a trace mineral that is extremely vital for the body as it has strong antioxidant powers, fights free radicals, and soothes inflammation. Studies show that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from selenium deficiency, making Brazil nuts an essential dietary choice. [6]

May Improve Heart Health

As per a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nuts’ consumption helps lower bad cholesterol by more than 25 percent. However, further research is needed to determine why Brazil nuts have a beneficial effect on heart health. [7]

Possible Anti-inflammatory Properties

The possibly high ellagic acid and selenium levels in the nuts may 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. [8]

May Boost Testosterone Levels

Brazil nuts, due to their selenium content, are often called a testosterone superfood. Dietary selenium helps improve sperm quality, motility, and volume, according to a study published in the Journal of Urology. In turn, this is linked with testosterone levels in men as the higher the testosterone, the higher the sperm count. L-arginine in the nuts is also an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. [9]

A bowl filled with Brazil nuts on a wooden background

Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Possible Antioxidant Properties

The possible antioxidants in Brazil nuts help prevent chronic illnesses, according to a study conducted in the Nutrition and Cancer journal. The glutathione enabled by selenium is an antioxidant that may eliminate free radicals in every part of the body. [10]

May 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. Intake of enough selenium prevents or regulates thyroid-related issues, such as hypothyroidism. [11] [12]

May Aid in Weight Loss

Brazil nuts, which are high in protein and fiber, are a nutrient-dense snack for weight watchers. According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, a single consumption of whole Brazil nuts significantly improves the lipid profiles of healthy individuals. [13]

May 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 helps prevent gastric ulcers, constipation, bloating, and cramps. [14]

May Boost Immune System

Any food with a high concentration of nutrients helps to strengthen 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 in the Journal of Functional Foods.  [15]

Other Benefits

  • May Act As a Mood lifter: Low levels of selenium have been linked to anxiety, stress, and tiredness, according to recent research cited in Biological Psychiatry. [16]
  • May Aid in Skincare: The comprehensive profile of vitamins and nutrients in Brazil nuts makes it particularly good for improving skin health. These nuts not only help protect us from UV radiation but also help treat acne or lessen its appearance. [17]
  • Possibly Good for Haircare: Brazil nuts are rich in omega-3s, vitamin-E, and selenium, that help the hair become shiny, strong, and less prone to breakage. [18]

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 promptly, 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: Brazil nuts have a high level of calories and saturated fat. So consult your health professional for the right advice on its daily intake. [19]
  • Selenium overdose: Too much selenium may have negative effects, including fatigue, stomach upset, and hair loss. [20]
  • Heart issues: We can’t overlook the presence of high amounts of saturated fat content in Brazil nuts. The recommended serving size of this beneficial snack is about six average-sized nuts. Consult a cardiologist if you are unsure of including these nuts in your diet. [21]
  • 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. [22]
  • Aflatoxins: Raw Brazil nuts may contain highly carcinogenic aflatoxins. [23] Protection Status
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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