Brazil nuts are no ordinary nuts. They stand proudly as the world’s richest source of selenium, a trace mineral that plays a pivotal role in your health. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and are a quick and healthy snack that can help with thyroid function and offer you a boost in energy. These nuts enhance many other facets of human health, including hormone function, immune system, and digestion.
The crunchy and tasty Brazil nuts have journeyed through history, captivating the palates of multiple cuisines. Let’s explore the secrets of Brazil nuts, revealing how they can supercharge your health and vitality. This article covers everything you need to know about Brazil nuts.
Nutritional Profile of Brazil Nuts
A 100-gram serving of Brazil nuts contains the following nutrients.
- Calories: 659 kcal
- Water: 3.42 g
- Protein: 14.32 g
- Fibre: 7.5 g
- Fat: 67.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 11.74 g
- Calcium: 160 mg
- Iron: 2.43 mg
- Magnesium: 376 mg
- Phosphorus: 725 mg
- Potassium: 659 mg
- Sodium: 3 mg
- Selenium: 1917 µg
- Folate: 22 µg
Note: The recommended intake amount of Brazil nuts is 2-3 per day to avoid selenium overdose.
Potential Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels
A study from 2013 showed that eating a single serving of Brazil nuts improved the serum lipid profile of people. The 20 selenoproteins in Brazil nuts have selenocysteine at their active centres. These selenoproteins promote cardiovascular benefits owing to their antioxidant properties. Epidemiological studies have recognised it to have defensive properties against cardiovascular damage.
Brazil nut is well-known for its cardiovascular-friendly PUFA. In various studies, Brazil nuts have been seen to have LDL cholesterol and triglycerides lowering properties and also reduced the risks of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, etc.
Good for the Brain
Brazil nuts contain ellagic acid, which possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which shows neuroprotective, anti-depressant effects on the brain. Investigations have confirmed that selenium supports vital brain signalling pathways like GABA and dopamine signalling. Low selenium levels are also associated with depression and anxiety. Ellagic acid-containing Brazil nuts, when combined with selenium, can boost antioxidant levels and reduce neuro-inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Improves Thyroid Health
Selenium in Brazil nuts supports thyroid function. Brazil nuts are rich in phenols like gallic acid and ellagic acid, which improves thyroid hormone levels.
Consuming Brazil nuts at 9.42 mg/day for 11 weeks showed a noticeable increase in plasma selenium and GPx, improving the overall effect of thyroid hormones. For instance, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease have shown positive responses in mood and immune system with selenium supplementation.
Helps to Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation may lead to free radical activity in the body. The potent antioxidant content of Brazil nuts protects the cells from oxidative damage. In addition, selenium increases the levels of glutathione peroxidase, which is an enzyme well known to reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Studies have indicated that consuming Brazil nuts may help those who are lacking in selenium, a crucial element needed to maintain good thyroid function. Beyond its potential to support thyroid function, selenium from Brazil nuts may also lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, both of which can cause cellular damage in the event of an imbalance. Together with the selenium, the ellagic acid found in Brazil nuts can boost antioxidant levels, which helps reduce the risk of neuro-inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s. Brazil nuts also lower total and LDL cholesterol levels because of their high fibre content, mineral-rich composition, and heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acid profile.
Healthy Brazil Nut Recipes
Healthy Brazil Nut Cookies
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- Quick oats: 150 g
- Dates: 50 g
- Brazil nuts: 2-3
- Baking soda: ½ tsp
- Sea salt: ½ tsp
- Tahini: 50 g
- Maple syrup: ½ tbsp
- Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
Methods of Preparation
- Combine oats, brazil nuts, dates, sea salt and baking soda in a food processor.
- After finely chopping, mix in tahini. Add vanilla extract and maple syrup to it and combine it till it forms a dough.
- Scoop out the dough and place it on a parchment paper.
- Use your hand or the bottom of any jar to flatten it out slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for 10 minutes and bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes.
- Cool it and enjoy it with tea.
Healthy Brazil Nut Brownies
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- Quick oats: 250 g
- Coconut oil: 6 tbsp
- Coconut sugar: 100 g
- Vanilla essence: 1 tbsp
- Eggs: 2 large
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: 1 tbsp
- Chopped dark chocolate: 1 medium
- Sea salt: ¼ tsp
- Brazil nuts: a handful (roughly chopped)
Methods of Preparation
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Melt coconut oil in a saucepan and add coconut sugar.
- Add chopped dark chocolate and vanilla essence to it and stir it until it melts.
- Remove it from heat.
- With a hand mixer, beat it for 2-4 minutes.
- Add eggs one by one and keep on mixing them.
- Add cocoa powder and salt and beat it for several minutes.
- Fold in the chopped Brazil nuts.
- Pour the batter into a greased tray and bake it for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for 45 minutes.
- Cut it into squares and enjoy.
Risks of Overconsumption
Although Brazil nuts have several health benefits, taking too much of them can lead to several health problems, including:
- Given the number of calories, overconsumption of Brazil nuts leads to weight gain.
- Overconsumption can lead to selenosis, also known as selenium poisoning, which can cause a variety of symptoms, including hair loss, nausea, diarrhoea, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Selenium intakes that are too high, whether from food or supplements, can result in heart attacks, kidney failure, tremors, and heart failure.
- Before consuming Brazil nuts, speak with your doctor if you have any form of nut allergy or if you are currently on medication for the same. There are several common allergens present that could trigger an allergic reaction.
Brazil nuts are primarily safe for everyone. However, if you overeat, it can contribute to weight gain. Moreover, people with nut allergies must avoid Brazil nuts. Taking selenium supplementation and Brazil nuts together can result in an overdose. It may cause selenosis, that is, hair loss, brittle nails, metallic taste in the mouth, etc. Remember to consume Brazil nuts in moderation.
Brazil nuts, like other nuts, are a rich source of protein and healthy fats. In excessive quantities, they can contribute to weight gain, so portion control is needed. You can roast Brazil nuts along with other nuts you enjoy. Just mix them and store them in an airtight container. You can also add in some dry fruits for sweetness. Enjoy this homemade Brazil nut trail mix as your morning snack.
The Final Word
Brazil nuts have two main effects on the body: they control thyroid function and strengthen immunity by forming a protective barrier against infections. Aside from that, they provide an abundance of nutrients for better heart health, including vitamins and minerals. Like any other food, Brazil nuts can, however, have unfavourable effects if consumed in excess.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are Brazil nuts?
A. Brazil nuts are crunchy, unique-tasting, unusual-looking nuts that come from the Bertholletia excelsa tree. These nuts are rich in selenium and polyphenols.
Q. Where do Brazil nuts come from?
A. The Bertholletia excelsa tree, which grows in the Amazon rainforest, is the source of Brazil nuts. It is native to Bolivia, Peru, eastern Colombia, Venezuela, and the Guianas.
Q. Are Brazil nuts a good source of selenium?
A. Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium in the world. They contain approximately 96 mcg per nut. Therefore, health experts advise consuming 2-3 nuts per day.
Q. How many Brazil nuts should I eat for their health benefits?
A. Health experts and dieticians recommend eating 2-3 nuts per day to enjoy its health advantages. Its selenium content prevents various heart diseases and infections. Rather than consuming selenium supplements, you can have 2 Brazil nuts per day.
Q. Can Brazil nuts help boost my immune system?
A. Absolutely! Various research findings claim Brazil nuts boost immune functioning. High selenium levels strengthen the immune system. Moreover, it is rich in polyphenols that promote immunity.
Q. Are Brazil nuts a good source of healthy fats?
A. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats. It contains monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFA and PUFA). The fatty acids in Brazil nuts assist in lowering harmful cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
Q. Do Brazil nuts have any antioxidants?
A. Yes, Brazil nuts are loaded with ellagic acid, a type of polyphenol that has antioxidant properties. In addition, selenium also acts as an antioxidant.
Q. Can Brazil nuts promote heart health?
A. Studies claim that it enhances cardiovascular health. In various studies, Brazil nuts have shown LDL cholesterol and triglycerides lowering properties. Hence, it reduces the risks of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, etc.
Q. Are Brazil nuts a good source of protein?
A. Brazil nuts are a good source of protein. One hundred grams of Brazil nuts contain 14.32 of protein, according to the USDA. You can incorporate it into your high-protein diet plan.
Q. Can Brazil nuts improve skin health?
A. Certainly, Brazil nuts can improve skin health as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporating it into your diet can treat skin irritations, calm skin woes, treat acne, etc.
Q. Do Brazil nuts support thyroid function?
A. Yes, Brazil nuts support thyroid function. It is rich in phenols like gallic acid, ellagic acid and selenium. Studies have shown Brazil nuts consumption improved thyroid hormone levels.
Q. Are Brazil nuts helpful for weight management?
A. When incorporated into a weight-loss-friendly diet, Brazil nuts can aid weight loss since it is high in protein, fibre and essential fatty acids. However, since it is calorie-dense, moderation is necessary for proper weight management and good health.
Q. What is the nutritional profile of Brazil nuts?
A. Brazil nuts are high in protein, fibre, water, healthy fats, etc. Moreover, it is also rich in calcium, magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, phosphorus, etc. It is an excellent source of selenium.
Q. Can Brazil nuts be beneficial for brain health?
A. Yes, Brazil nuts are highly beneficial to brain health. It contains ellagic acid, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, since Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, they have an anti-depressant effect on the brain and help to improve memory.
Q. Are there any potential side effects of consuming Brazil nuts?
A. There are hardly any potential side effects of consuming Brazil nuts. However, overeating can lead to weight gain. Moreover, since Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, it is advised to avoid it if you are taking selenium supplements. People with nut allergies must limit Brazil nuts consumption.
Data by the US Department of Agriculture on Brazil nuts
A Single Consumption of High Amounts of Brazil Nuts Improves Lipid Profile of Healthy Volunteers
Effect of Brazil Nuts on Selenium Status, Blood Lipids, and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials
Nut Consumption for Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review
Importance of selenium and selenoprotein for brain function: From antioxidant protection to neuronal signalling
The effect of Brazil nuts on selenium levels, Glutathione peroxidase, and thyroid hormones: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
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