9 Surprising Benefits of Brazil Nuts

Some of the most impressive and important health benefits of Brazil nuts include their ability to help stimulate growth and repair, improve the digestive process, boost heart health, balance hormone function, improve the immune system, lower risk of cancer, boost male fertility, help with weight loss, aid in skin health, and reduce the signs of aging.

What are Brazil Nuts?

With the scientific name of Bertholletia excelsaBrazil nuts are a nutrient-dense and delicious type of nut that comes from a tree in South America that bears 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 very large. It is a major exported nut from the South American continent, and can now be found throughout the world. The question is, why has this relatively abundant nut become such a phenomenon around the world? Well, the intense nutrient content makes these nuts extremely valuable as a healthy food that can successfully improve health and reduce the chances of a wide range of conditions. As one of the healthiest nuts on the market, despite its high fat content, there is a huge demand for these delicious brown nuts. Brazilnuts

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. Brazil nut trees almost exclusively produce fruit in undisturbed forests and these plants are somewhat fragile, so with Brazil nut numbers decreasing, prices may begin to rise in the coming years. With an impressive mineral and vitamin profile, not to mention essential proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber, Brazil nuts are a “complete package” type of food, particularly due to its unusually high selenium content. Brazil nuts can either be eaten in whole form or their essential oil can be extracted and used for more direct remedies. It is important to eat shelled Brazil nuts quickly, as the high content of fat makes these nut varieties go badly quite quickly. The extracted oil, however, can remain viable for months when properly extracted and used for many of the following health benefits of Brazil nuts.

Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts

Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts are as follows:

Heart Health

One of the most controversial and beneficial aspects of Brazil nuts is their surprisingly high content of healthy unsaturated fats, otherwise known as “good” forms of cholesterol or omega-3 fatty acids. This includes oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These varieties of unsaturated fats have been connected with balancing the cholesterol profile of the body and improving general heart health, mainly by eliminating dangerous omega-6 fatty acids from the body and cardiovascular system. This health cholesterol balance can help to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. However, brazil nuts still contain the highest content of dangerous saturated fats, so be careful not to overdue, as Brazil nuts are also high in calories. Six average-sized nuts is actually the recommended serving size for this beneficial snack.

Skin Health

The comprehensive profile of vitamins and nutrients in Brazil nuts make it particularly good for protecting skin health. The selenium in Brazil nuts, which is often the most praised aspect of this nut, is great for giving the skin a healthy glow and improves the elasticity of the skin, thereby preventing premature aging. This is possible because 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.

Acne Treatment

Although this falls under the category of “skin health”, 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 behind this protective quality.

Weight Loss

The high fiber concentration, overall nutrient density, proteins, and complex carbohydrates that are in each and every Brazil nut makes it quite filling, meaning that you are less inclined to snack incessantly and tack on those extra calories with unhealthy snacks. However, again, one ounce of Brazil nuts contains nearly 200 calories, so be careful about your intake, but moderate consumption can really boost weight loss efforts.

Digestive System

The fiber content of Brazil nuts also makes them great for tuning up  your digestive system. Fiber facilitates peristaltic motion in the gastrointestinal system, moving food through the body and extracting as many nutrients as possible. This can also help you prevent gastric ulcers, constipation, bloating, cramps, and more serious conditions like colon cancer. This can also increase energy levels and improve weight loss by keeping your system clean and running smoothly.

Hormone Function

Selenium plays a major role in the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is where some of the most essential hormones in the body are produced, distributed, and regulated from. By ensuring proper functioning of your thyroid gland (and the production of thyroid itself) the high concentration of selenium will ensure that your bodily processes are maintained and your metabolism remains strong.

Immune System

Any food that has such a high concentration of nutrients and minerals will be helpful for the immune system, but the antioxidants and organic compounds also present in this unassuming nut makes 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 stimulating antioxidant compounds throughout the body to neutralize free radicals, thereby 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.

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Growth and Repair

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. Protein is an essential part of health, primarily because it is necessary for muscle growth, energy, cellular growth, repair, and wound healing. Brazil nuts are a major source of protein, relatively speaking, so they can be a helpful boost to keep your protein levels up! Vitamin C is also a major component of collagen, another essential part of human growth and repair of blood vessels, tissues, and cells.

Nutrient Efficiency

The high magnesium levels found in Brazil nuts also help to 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 to intake through food, and Brazil nuts natural high levels and facilitation of nutrient uptake helps to balance that common deficiency.

A Final Word of Warning

Despite this wide array of health benefits, Brazil nuts do have a high level of calories and saturated fat. Before making these nuts a major part of your weekly diet, consult your health professional. If you are already suffering from heart issues, adding more saturated fat could be dangerous, whereas most research has shown Brazil nuts to be better for prevention of heart issues, rather than as treatment. Also, as with all nuts, Brazil nut allergies can be quite severe, so be sure to be tested for any potential nut allergies before consuming these nuts, particularly in oil form, as it is far more potent.

References
  1. http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/19930233400.html;jsessionid=E7D61E416D7C8C91CC05567D33A593F3
  2. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/302/5653/2112
  3. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/3/504s.short
  4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900709003463
  5. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/6584
  6. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643809001522
  7. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531708000195
  8. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157585710253
  9. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464610000381
  10. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf60213a053
  11. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf049643e

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