Brazil nuts are a leading source of selenium, an essential for preoper health. It helps combat cancer, aids proper functioning of thyroid glands and hormones and enhances immunity. It also acts as a mood uplifter beside providing a healthy heart an digestive system.
The Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is a South American tree in the family Lecythidaceae, and also the name of the tree's commercially harvested edible seeds. These large crescent-shaped seeds are enclosed in a dark brown shell which resembles those of nuts. Brazil nuts are high in calories and fat, and have a rich, creamy flavour and are particularly valued for their extraordinary selenium content.
Brazil nuts are rich in nutrients. Besides being one of the richest dietary sources of selenium, these nuts are rich in iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. They are also very rich in protein and dietary fibre. The nuts are also a great source of vitamin-E; contain about 7.87 mg per 100 g. 100 g of brazil nuts provide about 656 calories and about 1917 µg, or 3485% of the recommended daily intake of selenium.These creamy nuts are also an excellent source of B complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate and pyridoxine.
Brazil nuts contain ellagic acid which has high anti-inflammatory properties in the body and can even be neuroprotective. Another important anti-inflammatory agent in Brazil nuts is selenium, which is hugely important when combating inflammation in the body. Selenium takes part in antioxidant activity that defends against both free radical damage and inflammation.
Brazil nuts have a high content of healthy unsaturated fats, commonly known as “good” cholesterol or omega-3 fatty acids. This includes oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These varieties balance the cholesterol profile of the body and improve heart health by eliminating dangerous omega-6 fatty acids from the body and cardiovascular system. Brazil nuts have a good potential in balancing cholesterol levels that can help prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. The selenium, potassium, calcium and magnesium present in these nuts are helpful for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, which has a direct positive effect on heart health.
The minerals and vitamins present in Brazil nuts can narrow down the risk of getting certain types of cancers such as prostate, colon, stomach, lung and breast cancers. The natural function of selenium in the human body enhances glutathione, an enzyme that fights cancer-causing free radicals. Selenium is important for women as a protective against breast cancer. The higher the selenium, the lower the rates of breast cancer. Ellagic acid is also antimutagenic and anticancer.
Brazil nuts are highly beneficial for people with low thyroid function. Brazil nuts contain an active enzyme called “triodothyronine” which assists to produce the active thyroid hormone. There is more selenium in the tissues of the thyroid gland than all the other organs of our body.The selenium in Brazil nuts can help to keep the thyroid in proper working order and in overall good health by converting the inactive T4 (thyroid hormone) into the active T3 form.
100 g of Brazil nuts provide about 656 calories. The high caloric content comes from their fats which is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like palmitoleic acid (16:1) and oleic acid (18:1) that helps curb LDL or 'bad cholesterol' and enhance HDL or 'good cholesterol' levels in the blood. Monounsaturated fatty acids also prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by maintaing a healthy blood lipid profile.
The antioxidants and organic compounds present in Brazil nut help in developing the immunity of the body. The vitamin C content couples 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. Selenium in Brazilian nuts is highly advantageous for developing the immune system and helps wounds to heal. It contains a plethora of nutrients that boost the immune system, fighting off cold and flu. Brazil nuts also provide ample energy to carry out the day-to-day activities.
Brazil nuts are useful for treating Acrodermatitis enteropathica, a rare inherited disorder. The disorder occurs when the body fails to absorb sufficient amounts of zinc, leading to its deficiency. Brazil nut contains high levels of zinc, which can help to combat Acrodermatitis enteropathica by fulfilling this deficiency.
Selenium has been scientifically proven to lift mood and prevent depression. The lower the level of selenium, more the pangs of anxiety, depression and tiredness. Serotonin, found in Brazil nuts, not only helps regulate mood, but it can also have positive effects on sleep and appetite. It also helps to quell depression and anxiety. Regular consumption of Brazil nuts may help to suppress Alzheimer’s disease.
Selenium is a potent health food for men because it boosts testosterone levels and improves sperm production and mobility. The antioxidants present in Brazil nuts protect the semen from free radical damage and reduce infertility.
The fiber content of Brazil nuts aids the digestive system. Fiber facilitates peristaltic motion in the gastrointestinal system, moving food smoothly through the digestive system and extracting the maximum possible nutrients. This also prevents gastric ulcers, constipation, bloating, cramps, and serious conditions like colon cancer.
Brazil nuts contain copper, a mineral vital for the skeletal system, required for the formation of bone tissues. It also helps in the formation of the connective tissues and aids the absorption of iron into the blood stream. In addition, Brazil nuts also strengthen the bones by improving bone mineral density. It contains magnesium,required for the functioning of the muscles. It prevents the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, impeding soreness and muscular pain. Magnesium is catalytic in nature, which helps to break down the protein into simpler amino acids. It also helps to digest and absorb protein in the body.
Brazil nuts, an excellent source of selenium, helps in weight management, healthy and shiny hair with additional hair growth. It prevents acne and inhibits aging,thus providing a healthy and glowing skin. Brazil nuts act as a wonderful natural exfoliant.
A consequence of selenium toxicity is brittle nails and hair. Side effects of excess consumption include nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, irritability, a garlic-like breath odor, hair loss, and nail abnormalities. Other like rashes or lesions on skin,spotty colored teeth, irritability and irregularity with nervous system also occur. Brazil nuts have been found to consist high amounts of aflatoxins, which are carcinogenic and small amounts of radioactive radium because of its vast root system.
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. 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. They’re harvested in the wild and exclusively in the wet season of the rain forest. The seeds are harvested from the rainforests by the workers who collect the seeds when they fall from the trees.