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Brazil Nuts: The Selenium-Rich Nuts And Their 12 Benefits

Brazil Nuts: The Selenium-Rich Nuts And Their 12 Benefits April 4, 2018

Brazil nuts are the richest sources of selenium – a trace mineral that takes care of several bodily functions. Coming from the Brazil nut tree (and native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil), the nuts look like coconuts and are also called castanhas-do-pará (which means chestnuts from Para) in Brazil. Immensely popular for regulating thyroid health and boosting immunity, Brazil nuts are worth taking a look at.

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How Are Brazil Nuts Good For You?

The most important characteristic of Brazil nuts is their selenium content. One ounce of Brazil nuts (six nuts) contains 544 micrograms of selenium, which is almost 10 times the RDA (which is just 55 micrograms). Selenium interacts with proteins in your body to form selenoproteins, which are known to boost thyroid function and enhance immunity.

Selenium also fights inflammation in the body. It takes part in the antioxidant activity and helps prevent free radical damage. Well, we have got more.

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What Are The Benefits Of Brazil Nuts?

1. Brazil Nuts Boost Thyroid Health

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The thyroid gland has more selenium content than any other organ in the body. Selenium is an important component of molecules that help your body create and use thyroid hormones. Research links thyroid issues with selenium deficiency (1). Another study had also found that individuals with thyroid problems could increase their selenium intake through Brazil nut supplementation – which had also resulted in improved thyroid functioning (2).

The selenium in Brazil nuts also protects the body from antibodies that cause thyroid disease (3).

2. Prevent Heart Disease

Brazil nuts contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium – all of which can help regulate blood pressure. And the fiber the nuts contain lowers your cholesterol levels. More importantly, the antioxidants in Brazil nuts protect the heart and lower the risk of heart disease (4).

Another Brazilian study talks about how a single serving of Brazil nuts improved lipid profiles in healthy volunteers (5).

3. Fight Inflammation

Like most other nuts, Brazil nuts contain ellagic acid, which has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. The acid can even fight brain inflammation (6).

And then, we have selenium in the nuts, another mineral that is known to combat inflammation. Studies have found that taking just one Brazil nut a day can have anti-inflammatory benefits. Even a single intake of Brazil nuts was found to decrease long-term inflammation (7).

Did You Know?

It’s illegal in Brazil to cut down a Brazil nut tree.

 

4. Brazil Nuts Fight Cancer

Extensive research has spoken about the bioactivity of selenium in Brazil nuts, which can be used for cancer prevention and treatment (8).

The ellagic acid in them has anticancer and antimutagenic properties (9).

Cancer can also be caused by toxic levels of mercury in the body. Some studies have shown that selenium can help reduce these mercury levels, thereby effectively preventing cancer.

Even the National Foundation for Cancer Research states that selenium in Brazil nuts can help ward off the disease (10).

5. Aid Weight Loss

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Brazil nuts are rich in fiber, one nutrient that can make you feel full and discourage overeating. The nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that can aid weight loss. Arginine can increase energy expenditure and ultimately promote fat loss.

The selenium in Brazil nuts also keeps your metabolism working efficiently – and this burns off maximum calories.

[ Read: Top 10 Nuts You Should Eat For Good Health ]

6. Boost Immunity

It’s selenium, again. This mineral carries messages from different immune cells that ultimately coordinate the right immune response. Without selenium, this may not happen.

Another mineral in Brazil nuts, zinc, also produces proteins that destroy pathogens. The immune system also uses the iron in the nuts to produce white blood cells – which are also called T cells –that regulate immune response.

7. Brazil Nuts Enhance Brain Health

One study found that older individuals who took just one Brazil nut daily for six months saw better verbal abilities and spatial skills. The selenium in the nuts also boosts antioxidant activity that can protect the brain from damage. And the ellagic acid in the nuts, as per research, has anti-inflammatory effects that can protect the brain (11).

The selenium in the nuts can also elevate mood and prevent depression. The mineral can increase serotonin levels, and this results in a better mood (12).

8. Help In Digestion

Brazil nuts are good sources of both soluble and insoluble fibers. While the former helps food move through the digestive tract, the latter helps in bowel movement.

9. Boost Testosterone Levels

Studies have confirmed a correlation between selenium and testosterone. It was also found that men who were infertile were found to have low levels of selenium.

10. Brazil Nuts Improve Sexual Health

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The nuts play a role in hormonal health. Selenium supplementation was found to improve sperm count and sperm motility. These nuts can also help treat erectile dysfunction (13).

Did You Know?

A Brazil nut tree can grow up to 200 feet, making it one of the largest trees in the world. It can also live up to 800 years.

 

11. Help Treat Acne

The selenium in the nuts improves skin elasticity and relieves redness and inflammation. The mineral also helps in the formation of glutathione, and this neutralizes the free radicals.

12. Contribute To Hair Growth

The deficiency of selenium can lead to hair loss. This is because the mineral helps your body process the proteins required for hair growth.

Selenium also stimulates the hair follicles and encourages hair growth.

That’s about the benefits of Brazil nuts. There are several other nutrients in the nuts that make them what they are. Let’s take a look at them now.

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What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Brazil Nuts?

Brazilnuts, raw,Nutritional value per 100 g.(Source: USDA)
PrincipleNutrient ValuePercentage of RDA
Energy656 Kcal33%
Carbohydrates12.27 g10%
Protein14.32 g26%
Total Fat66.43 g221%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Dietary Fiber7.5 g20%
Vitamins
Folates22 mcg5.5%
Niacin0.295 mg2%
Pantothenic acid0.184 mg3.5%
Pyridoxine0.101 mg8%
Riboflavin0.035 mg3%
Thiamin0.617 mg51%
Vitamin A0 IU0%
Vitamin C0.7 mg7%
Vitamin E-gamma7.87 mg52%
Electrolytes
Sodium2 mg0%
Potassium597 mg13%
Minerals
Calcium160 mg16%
Copper1.743 mg194%
Iron2.43 mg30%
Magnesium376 mg94%
Manganese1.223 mg53%
Phosphorus725 mg103%
Selenium1917 mcg3485%
Zinc4.06 mcg36%
Phyto-nutrients
Crypto-xanthin-ß0 mcg
Crypto-xanthin-ß0 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin0 mcg

All good. But can you eat Brazil nuts raw? Or is there a way to eat them?

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How To Eat Brazil Nuts

The best way is to eat them raw or blanched. Or you can even roast and salt them like most nuts. You can also crush them and use the powder as a dessert topping.

We also have Brazil nut milk – which is a tasty alternative to soy or regular milk. But ensure you don’t overdo it as you might otherwise exceed the RDA of selenium.

No matter how healthy, every food has a dark side. And so do Brazil nuts.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Brazil Nuts?

  • Selenium Toxicity

Brazil nuts are so rich in selenium that having them even in a little excess can cause selenium toxicity. The symptoms include diarrhea, brittle nails, a metallic taste in the mouth, hair loss, and coughing.

  • Allergies

Brazil nuts can cause allergies in people with nut allergies. Symptoms include vomiting and swelling.

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Conclusion

In case you are deficient in selenium, turn to nothing else but Brazil nuts. One nut a day will do the trick. But ensure you don’t take too many of them.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

How many Brazil nuts can we take in a day?

One nut is sufficient. But have no more than two nuts a day.

Where to buy Brazil nuts?

You can get them from your nearest supermarket or even online from Amazon or Nuts.

References

  1. The importance of selenium to human health”. US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Effect of selenium supplementation…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Selenium and the thyroid gland…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Antioxidants & heart health”. Cleveland Clinic.
  5. A single consumption of high amounts...”. US National Library of Medicine.
  6. The effects of ellagic acid upon brain cells…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Brazilian nut consumption by healthy…”. ScienceDirect.
  8. Bioactivity of selenium from Brazil nut...”. US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Punicalagin and ellagic acid…”. Biomed Research Central.
  10. Taste the cancer-fighting power of Brazil…”. National Foundation for Cancer Research.
  11. The effects of ellagic acid upon brain cells...”. US National Library of Medicine.
  12. Eating nuts may enhance mood”. CBCNews.
  13. Erectile dysfunction or low sperm count?”. Express.

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