The important health benefits of Brazil nuts include their ability to aid in skin care and weight loss, reduce the signs of aging, balance hormonal functions, and boost heart health. These nuts also improve the immune system, stimulate growth and repair, improve the digestive process, lower risk of cancer, and boost male fertility.
What are Brazil Nuts?
With the scientific name Bertholletia excelsa, Brazil nuts 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.
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.
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.
With an impressive mineral and vitamin profile, not to mention essential proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber, Brazil nuts are a “complete package”, particularly due to their unusually high selenium content.
Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
As one of the healthiest nuts available on the market, despite their high-fat content, there is a huge demand for these delicious brown nuts. Let us discuss the health benefits of Brazil nuts in detail:
Improve Heart Health
One of the most controversial and beneficial aspects of Brazil nuts is their 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 have been connected with balancing the cholesterol profile of the body and improving heart health, mainly by eliminating dangerous omega-6 fatty acids from the body and cardiovascular system. 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.
The comprehensive profile of vitamins and nutrients in Brazil nuts makes it particularly good for improving skin health. The selenium in Brazil nuts gives 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.
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 of this protective quality.
The overall nutrients in Brazil nuts like high fiber, proteins, and complex carbohydrates make it quite a filling snack. So, when these nuts are consumed, you are less inclined to snack incessantly and are able to keep a check on those extra calories from unhealthy snacks. One ounce of Brazil nuts contains nearly 200 calories, so limiting the intake of these nuts is advised. Nevertheless, moderate consumption can really boost weight loss efforts.
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.
Improve Hormone Function
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. By ensuring proper functioning of your thyroid gland (and the production of thyroid itself), the high concentration of selenium will ensure boosted metabolism.
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
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 plays a significant part in maintaining health, primarily because it is necessary for muscle growth, energy, cellular growth, repair, and wound healing. Brazil nuts are a major source of protein, so they can be a helpful boost to keep your protein levels up! 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.
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 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.
- Heart Issues: If you are already suffering from heart issues, adding more saturated fat could be dangerous, whereas most research has shown that Brazil nuts help prevent heart issues, rather than treating them.
- 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.