Brazil nuts with their creamy texture are a tasty snack with numerous health benefits. Studies have shown them to help lower cholesterol, have anticancer nutrients, improve thyroid function and even can improve our mood. They are one of my favourite superfoods.
Brazil Nuts Are Very High in Selenium
It is found in many foods, but Brazil nuts have the highest amount of selenium of any food. Just one nut contains 95.9mcg which is 137% of your daily requirement.
The trace element selenium is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism, fights inflammation, and gives protection from infection and oxidative damage, and DNA synthesis.
We have all heard that an apple a day will keep the doctor away, perhaps a Brazil nut a day will help too.
Note: Selenium can build up in your body and can even be unsafe in extreme amounts. As a snack, we can eat one to six per day but really one or two is more than enough and safest.
Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
Reduces Cancer Risk
A five-year, randomized nutritional intervention study took place in China where esophageal cancer rates are extremely high and selenium intake is low. The results, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found highly significant inverse associations of serum selenium levels with the incidence of esophageal cancer. Meanwhile, selenium, an essential biological trace element, has been shown to reduce and prevent the incidence of cancer.
A study found that when there is a selenium deficiency there is an increase in liver cancer. They found that low levels of selenium were related to up to 10 times an increased risk of liver cancer. Also, there are studies that indicate that sufficient selenium reduces skin cancer risk.
These nuts can improve mood and prevent anxiety and depression. The Swansea University Department of Psychology studied 50 volunteers that were either given 100 micrograms of selenium or a placebo daily for five weeks and they filled out a “Profile of Moods Stats” questionnaire. What they found is that those with lower selenium in their diet reported more anxiety and depression.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the body are improved with just one Brazil nut per day. In a 2012 study, with 45 patients who ate one nut per day for three months, they found that anti-inflammatory responses improved as well as antioxidant responses. Also, cholesterol levels improved.
Cholesterol is Improved
In a study, ten healthy women and men were given a single serving of Brazil nuts, they almost instantly had an improvement in their cholesterol levels. The LDL, bad cholesterol levels in the blood, was lower only nine hours after eating the nuts. Five days later and one month later, the researchers found that the single serving of Brazil nuts kept their cholesterol level down; it stayed down, for a whole month after eating only four nuts. Also, note they did not continue to eat Brazil nuts the whole time.
Improves Thyroid Function
The thyroid gland has more selenium in the tissues than all the other organs in your body; the selenium helps create and use thyroid hormones. It keeps your thyroid in good health and doing its job.
A study found people with a low level of the thyroid hormone T3 were able to increase their selenium level with Brazil nuts and had improvement in thyroid hormone levels. – Brazil university study in 2015.
This nut can be a very good natural remedy helping the thyroid keep healthy because of its high selenium content.
Please Note: Take caution if you have nut allergies. Brazil nut trees have deep roots reaching down into the soil to where there is a source of natural radium and they absorb the radium and it makes its way to the nuts. The result is that the radium level in Brazil nuts can be 1000 times what you will find in other foods. This is another reason, to only eat one or two a day.
The first shipment of Brazil nuts arrived in New York In 1810. After the Civil War in 1873 three million pounds were imported.
- No Rainforest, No Brazil Nuts: Brazil nut production is mostly from wild trees in the Amazon but there are amazon plantations now being developed.
- The trees can be over 160 feet high and 6 feet in diameter with a crown up to 100 feet in diameter. The trees start producing nuts after 8 years.
- The tree can produce up to 500 pounds of the large pods per year.
- The pod is the size of a baseball, weighing up to 5 pounds and falls when it is ripe at a speed of up to 50 mph!
- The big pod is very hard and only the agouti, a large rodent with sharp, chisel-like teeth can crack it open.
- Each pod has from 10 to 21 nuts, they are not considered nuts, they are actually seeds.
- Bolivia is the biggest producer of Brazil nuts, not Brazil.
How to Select
They come both in the shell or without. The nut should be whole and not shriveled or in pieces, as they could already be spoiled. If you purchase the nut in a shell, it’s best to remove the shell so they don’t rot inside the shell.
How to Store
Brazil nuts are very prone to rancidity due to their high-fat content of 65%.
It is best to store them in dark, airtight containers and best in the refrigerator for up to a few months.
Tips for eating or cooking
- To get the most nutrition, it’s best to eat Brazil nuts raw. They can be roasted and salted like most nuts.
- Try some milk made from the nuts as a tasty alternative to almond, soy or regular dairy milk.
Tasty Brazil Nut Recipes
Brazil Nut Burgers – These tasty Brazil Nut Burgers are filled with healthy ingredients and are gluten free and vegan too.
Tasty Millet Coconut Pudding with Brazil Nuts (Sugarless) – This creamy millet coconut pudding is extra delicious with the addition of Brazil nuts.
Brazil Nut Milk – This is a very easy and simple nut milk to make.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.