Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium – a trace mineral important for 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). Brazil nuts can help play a role in regulating thyroid health and boosting immunity, in addition to promoting health in various other ways.
Table Of Contents
- How Do Brazil Nuts Play A Beneficial Role?
- What Are The Benefits Of Brazil Nuts?
- What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Brazil Nuts?
- How To Eat Brazil Nuts
- What Are The Side Effects Of Brazil Nuts?
How Do Brazil Nuts Play A Beneficial Role?
The most important characteristic of Brazil nuts is their selenium content. One ounce of Brazil nuts (about six nuts) contains 544 micrograms of selenium, which is almost 10 times the RDA (55 micrograms). Selenium interacts with proteins in your body to form selenoproteins, which are known to play a role in thyroid function and can 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.
What Are The Benefits Of Brazil Nuts?
1. Brazil Nuts Support Thyroid Health
The thyroid gland has the highest selenium content than any other organ in the body. Selenium binds with other molecules in the gland, and helps your body create and use thyroid hormones. Research has linked thyroid issues with selenium deficiency (1). Studies have also found that individuals with thyroid irregularities could increase their selenium intake through Brazil nut supplementation. This improves thyroid functioning (2).
The selenium in Brazil nuts may also protect the body from antibodies that cause thyroid disease, but more research is required to establish this (3).
2. Can Help Prevent Heart Disease
Brazil nuts contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These three minerals help regulate blood pressure.In addition, the soluble fiber in the nuts can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.The antioxidants in Brazil nuts reduce free radical damage and lower the risk of heart disease (4).
Another study talks about how a single serving of Brazil nuts can acutely improve lipid profiles in healthy volunteers (5).
3. Fight Inflammation
Like most other nuts, Brazil nuts contain mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids that help fight inflammation (6).
The selenium in the nuts also helps combat inflammation. Studies have found that eating just one Brazil nut a day can have anti-inflammatory benefits. Even a single serving of Brazil nuts was found to decrease long-term inflammation (7).
4. Brazil Nuts May Aid Cancer Treatment
The selenium in Brazil nuts can be used to reduce cancer risk and improve outcomes of treatment (8).
The ellagic acid in the nuts has been found to exhibit anticancer and antimutagenic properties (9).
Some types of cancer can also be caused by toxic levels of mercury or other heavy metals in the body.
Even the National Foundation for Cancer Research states that selenium in Brazil nuts can help treat the disease (10).
5. Aid Weight Loss
Brazil nuts are rich in fiber, which can make you feel full and discourage overeating. The nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that can aid weight loss by promoting increased energy expenditure and fat burning.
The selenium in Brazil nuts is involved in many metabolic processes. It keeps your metabolism working efficiently, and this helps burn maximum calories.
6. Boost Immunity
Selenium in the nuts carries messages from different immune cells that ultimately coordinate the right immune response (11). Without selenium, this may not happen as effectively.
Another mineral in Brazil nuts, zinc, also boosts immunity and destroys pathogens (12).
7. Brazil Nuts Support Brain Health
One study found that older individuals who consumed just one Brazil nut daily for six months saw better verbal abilities and spatial skills. The selenium in the nuts boosts antioxidant activity and protects the brain from damage. The ellagic acid in the nuts has anti-inflammatory effects that can protect the brain (13).
Selenium can also elevate mood and help prevent depression. The mineral has been shown to increase serotonin levels, resulting in a better mood (14).
8. Help In Digestion
Brazil nuts are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water, turning to gel and slowing digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food pass through the stomach and intestines.
9. Boost Testosterone Levels
Studies have confirmed a correlation between selenium, zinc, and testosterone. It was also found that men who were infertile were found to have low levels of selenium (15).
10. Brazil Nuts Improve Sexual Health
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 (16).
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, which neutralizes the free radicals that cause acne (17).
12. Contribute To Hair Growth
A deficiency of selenium can lead to hair loss. This is because the mineral helps your body process the proteins required for 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.
The Nutritional Profile Of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are among the richest sources of selenium. Just one nut contains 96 mcg of the nutrient, meeting 175% of the RDA. The nuts are also a good source of healthy fats, including polyunsaturated fats that are known to promote heart health.
|Brazilnuts, raw,Nutritional value per 100 g.(Source: USDA)|
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Dietary Fiber||7.5 g||20%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.184 mg||3.5%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||0.7 mg||7%|
|Vitamin E-gamma||7.87 mg||52%|
All good. But can you eat Brazil nuts raw? Or is there a way to eat them?
The Best Way To Eat Brazil Nuts
The best way to eat Brazil nuts is raw or blanched, as it preserves their nutritional value. However, you can also roast and salt them like most nuts. You can include them as a convenient snack or crush them to use as a topping for salads or desserts.
But before you go ahead with a handful of them, you must also know the possible risks associated with Brazil nuts.
Possible Side Effects Of Brazil Nuts
What Are The Side Effects Of Brazil Nuts?
- Selenium Toxicity
Brazil nuts are so rich in selenium that having them in excess can cause selenium toxicity or selenosis. The symptoms of this toxicity include diarrhea, brittle nails, a metallic taste in the mouth, hair loss, and coughing. An intake of 5,000 mcg of selenium (about 50 average-sized Brazil nuts) can lead to toxicity and cause breathing problems, heart attack, and kidney failure. The recommended upper intake of selenium for adults is 400 mcg per day.
Brazil nuts can cause allergies in people with nut allergies. Symptoms include vomiting and swelling.
If you are dealing with a selenium deficiency, Brazil nuts can help. One nut a day will do the trick, but ensure you don’t eat too many.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
How many Brazil nuts should you eat in a day?
One nut provides the sufficient amount of selenium. But have no more than three nuts a day.
Where to buy Brazil nuts?
You can get them from your nearest supermarket or even online from Amazon.
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- “Brazilian nut consumption by healthy…”. ScienceDirect.
- “Bioactivity of selenium from Brazil nut...”. Nutrition and Cancer, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Punicalagin and ellagic acid…”. Biomed Research Central.
- “Taste the cancer-fighting power of Brazil…”. National Foundation for Cancer Research.
- “The influence of selenium on immune responses” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Zinc and immune function: the biological…” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “The effects of ellagic acid upon brain cells...”. Neurochemical Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Nutrition for your Noggin: Foods and Brain Health ” Western Michigan University.
- “Relationship between serum levels of testosterone…” African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Erectile Dysfunction” University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- “Acne vulgaris, mental health…” Lipids in Health and Disease, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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