Brazil Nuts - Benefits and use Of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nut is an extremely delicious nut. Loaded with several benefits for the skin, hair and health, these nuts provide high amounts of beneficial nutrients that are required by the body to function properly.
We know selenium benefits are enormous, but it’s often hard to get selenium in your everyday diet. So if you’re struggling to get this healthy compound, I’ve got the food just for you: Brazil nuts.
selenium-rich Brazil nuts include their ability to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, aid in skin care, boost weight loss, reduce the signs of aging, regulate thyroid function, and fight anxiety.
Brazil nuts are actually edible seeds from the Brazil nut tree, and they can be eaten raw or blanched. The nuts grow inside a round, coconut-like shell, in orange-like segments which, when split open, reveals around 12-20 Brazil nuts.
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. It’s quite a large tree, so 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. The Brazilian nut is one of the most important non-timber products from the Amazon and amounts to a worldwide $50 million industry. These nuts are heavily protected and cherished for their delicious flavor and high nutritional content, as well as the oil extracted from them for beauty products and more.
Brazil nuts are one of the healthiest nuts available, particularly due to their unusually high selenium content.  The nuts have an impressive mineral and vitamin profile as they contain thiamin, vitamins E and C, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. They score high among nuts as a high-protein (14%), low carbohydrate (12%) choice. 85% of their calories come from fats, primarily from omega 6-fatty acids. The gluten-free nuts are an excellent source of dietary fiber too.
Brazil nuts nutrition is quite impressive. A one-ounce (six kernels) serving of dried, unblanched brazil nuts contains about:
- 85 calories
- 3.5 grams carbohydrates
- 4 grams protein
- 18.8 grams fat
- 2.1 grams fiber
- 542 micrograms selenium (774 percent DV)
- 106 milligrams magnesium (27 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligram copper (25 percent DV)
- 205 milligrams phosphorus (20 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram manganese (17 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram thiamine (12 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams vitamin E (8 percent DV)
- 1.1 milligrams zinc (8 percent DV)
- 45.2 milligrams calcium (5 percent DV)
- 186 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
- 0.7 milligram iron (4 percent DV)
Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
Like other nuts, Brazil nuts are known for their amazing taste and a plethora of health benefits. Some of the brazil nuts health benefits include:
Health Benefits Of Brazil Nuts:
- Top Source of Selenium
Brazil nuts are the number one source of selenium, with one ounce (about 6 kernels) serving 774% DV.Selenium is a trace mineral which is extremely vital for the body as it has strong antioxidant power, fights free radicals and soothes inflammation, thus boosting overall health. Studies show that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from selenium deficiency, which makes Brazil nuts an important dietary choice.Selenium also helps reduce toxic mercury levels and thus, the incidence of cancer in the body.
Brazil nuts are great for inflammatory issues in the body because they’re tremendous anti-inflammatory foods. Brazil nuts, as do most nuts, contain ellagic acid. Why is this important? Ellagic acid 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. A 2012 study found that just one Brazil nut per day is able to improve anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the body. In the study, 45 patients received one nut a day for three months. After three months of eating on Brazil nut per day, not only did the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses improve, but cholesterol levels improved as well.
Improve Heart Health
Brazil nuts have a surprisingly high content of healthy unsaturated fats, commonly known as HDL or good forms of cholesterol or omega-3 fatty acids. This includes oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These varieties of unsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium content in Brazil nuts are connected with balancing the cholesterol profile of the body and improving heart health.
Brazil nuts are also on the list of cancer-fighting foods, again due to their high ellagic acid and selenium levels. Ellagic acid is also antimutagenic and anticancer.
Meanwhile, selenium, an essential biological trace element, has been shown to reduce and prevent the incidence of cancer. 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.
Many health professionals believe and some studies have shown a possible link between having toxic levels of mercury in the body and cancer incidence. Some animal studies show that the selenium can help reduce toxic mercury levels, which can further help fight cancer.
Regulates the thyroid hormone:
Brazil nuts contain an active enzyme called “triodothyronine” which helps to produce the active thyroid hormone. Eat a handful of Brazil nuts every day to get your daily dose of selenium.
Brazil nuts, with their high selenium content, are often called a testosterone superfood. Dietary selenium can help to improve sperm quality, motility, and volume, according to a research study published in the Journal of Andrology. This, in turn, is linked with testosterone levels in men as higher the testosterone, higher the sperm count. L-arginine in the nuts is also an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Neutralizes free radical damage:
Selenium encourages the production of glutathione, the most important antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. Free radicals can oxidize in the body, damaging the cells and tissues. Selenium neutralizes the free radicals, while providing protection from a number of health conditions like heart diseases and cancer.
Low levels of selenium are linked to anxiety, stress, and tiredness, according to recent research.Also, nut consumption increases the metabolism of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical, which controls mood, appetite, and sleep. Thus, regular intake of Brazil nuts rich in selenium can help relieve the various issues caused by selenium deficiency such as depression, mood issues, fatigue, and stress.
Brazil nut assists in weight management. It contains high amounts of protein and fiber that control hunger, thereby reducing weight. Eating a small serving of Brazil nuts keeps you full for a longer time, reducing the likelihood of snacking in between.
High Protein Nut
A lot of people forget about the real importance of protein in their diet, particularly if they are on a restricted diet or are a vegetarian.  So, a handful of these nuts can be a helpful boost to keep your protein levels up!
Treats Zinc Deficiency
Zinc in Brazil nuts helps treat Acrodermatitis enteropathica. This is a rare genetic disorder in which the body is unable to absorb sufficient amounts of zinc.
Brazil nuts are a nutrient-dense food. It contains magnesium, a mineral required for the functioning of the muscles. It prevents the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, preventing soreness and muscular pain. Magnesium is catalytic in nature, which helps to break down the protein into simpler amino acids. It helps in the digestion and absorption of protein in the body.
Brazil nuts contain copper, a mineral vital for the skeletal system. Copper is required for the formation of bone tissues. It also helps in the formation of the connective tissues. It aids the absorption of iron into the blood stream. In addition to the skeletal system, Brazil nuts also strengthen the bones by improving bone mineral density.
The comprehensive profile of vitamins and nutrients in Brazil nuts makes it particularly good for improving skin health. The selenium, omega 3-fatty acids, and vitamins C and E in Brazil nuts give the skin a healthy glow and improve the elasticity of the skin, thereby preventing premature aging. Selenium stimulates the activity of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant compound that can remove free radicals from the skin cells that cause wrinkles and even skin cancer.  Also, Brazil nut oil is an excellent emollient which helps prevent skin dryness, eczema, and psoriasis. Additionally, grinding a handful of nuts and mixing it with an egg makes for a deeply nourishing skin exfoliator.
- Glowing skin:
Selenium in Brazil nuts speeds the cell turnover process, providing a natural glow to the skin. The high levels of antioxidants in Brazil nuts stimulate the production of glutathione, which combats free radicals that damage the skin collagen. The Vitamin E in Brazil nuts also maintains the integrity of the cells of the mucus membranes and the skin.
- Treat Acne:
The high zinc content in Brazil nuts has been shown to protect against acne or lessen its appearance.This can be achieved through normal consumption of the nuts or by application of Brazil nut oil on the affected area. The rich vitamin and antioxidant content of the oil is the main cause of this protective quality.
- Skin cancer:
The Vitamin E and selenium present in Brazil nuts help to prevent skin cancer. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage. A deficiency in selenium can cause basal and squamous skin cancer. Brazil nuts also contain copper, a mineral that aids in the production of melanin. Melanin is a color pigment that protects the body from the harmful ultraviolet rays. Consume a handful of Brazil nuts every day to protect yourself from skin cancer.
Brazil nuts contain Vitamin A and E that increase the production of collagen, giving you smooth and firm skin. Apply the oil before going to bed to add a healthy shine to your complexion.
- Skin Dryness:
Brazil nuts are very useful for alleviating skin dryness. It contains nutrients like zinc, Vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids that treat skin dryness and flakiness, preventing eczema and psoriasis. The oil extracted from Brazil nuts can also be used to treat skin dryness and minor infections. The emollient properties of Brazil nut oil keep the skin well-hydrated and moisturized. Apply a few drops of Brazil nut oil on the feet to treat itchiness, cracked heels and tightness.
Brazil nuts act as a wonderful natural exfoliant. Take half a cup of Brazil nuts and grind them in a processor to make a fine powder. Combine the powder with mashed avocado and eggs to make a smooth paste. Rub the paste gently on your wet face and leave it for 15 minutes. Rinse it off with cold water and pat dry. The paste will provide the right abrasiveness without damaging the fragile areas of the skin. It will exfoliate the skin gently, removing the dead cells, while avocado and egg will make the skin smooth and supple.
Brazil Nuts Benefits for Hair:
L-arginine, an amino acid in the nuts, is mainly used to treat alopecia or male baldness as it encourages the growth of lustrous, thick hair. Brazil nuts are also rich in omega 3s, vitamin E, and selenium, which help to make the hair shiny, healthy and less prone to breakage.
- Hair growth:
Lack of essential nutrients in the body can cause hair fall or stunted hair growth. Brazil nuts contain selenium, an important trace mineral that is extremely vital for the health of the hair. A deficiency in selenium, can often lead to excessive hair fall. Regular consumption of Brazil nuts can improve hair growth and health.
- Healthy hair:
Brazil nut is an excellent source of l-arginine, an amino acid that is mainly used topically to reverse male baldness. It encourages the growth of healthy hair. This amino acid also improves the health of the artery walls, making them less prone to blood clots. Our scalp requires a strong flow of blood for proper hair growth.
- Shiny hair:
Brazil nuts are the easiest and least expensive treatment to make the hair healthy and shiny. It contains high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which stimulate the production of sebum in the scalp, conditioning the hair naturally. Brazil nut oil is also used in shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments. Eat a handful of Brazil nuts daily to notice a major improvement in the quality of your hair.
- Prevent hair breakage:
Brazil nuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, a healthy form of fatty acid that makes the strands healthy. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, one of the most important nutrients required for improving the appearance of the hair. A deficiency in this nutrient can make the hair brittle and prone to breakage.
Brazil Nuts History & Interesting Facts
Brazil nuts are truly a wonderful superfood. They’re harvested in the wild and exclusively in the wet season of the rain forest. Some areas in Brazil, however, due to high demand, have started to build Brazil nut plantations. It’s actually illegal in Brazil to cut down a Brazil nut tree so you can even find them along roads and in backyards across South America growing wild. These massive trees tower in your backyard for a while too — they can live between 500 to 800 years!
The oil of the nut is also a popular product for many people. Brazil nut oil is an excellent natural skin moisturizer for your whole body, making it a perfect natural skin care ingredient. It contains many of the powerful mineral and vitamin components as the seed itself and is great at healing dry or damaged skin. Brazil nut oil is used traditionally in dressings for salads and marinades in South America as well.
How to select and store Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts are available all year round in raw, roasted and salted forms. Purchase unshelled Brazil nuts to protect them from deterioration. Avoid purchasing discolored or shriveled nuts and those that have a musty odor. The odor indicates that the nuts might be affected by fungal mold.
The shelf life of the nuts depends entirely on how you store them. They last for 4 to 6 weeks if stored in a cool and dry place. Refrigerate the nuts to prolong their shelf life. Refrigerated Brazil nuts last for almost 9 months. Brazil nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats that might turn rancid if exposed to air, humidity and sunlight. Store the jar away from moisture and direct sunlight.
It’s best to eat Brazil nuts raw or blanched, although they can be roasted and salted like most nuts. Brazil nuts can also be sweetened and crushed for dessert toppings or even made into puddings, dips and cheeses.
Brazil nut milk is a highly nutritious and tasty alternative to almond, soy or regular dairy milk. However, it should only be used in small amounts or on occasion so you don’t overdo it in the selenium department.
You can buy Brazil nuts in the shell or without. Look for Brazil nuts that are stored in airtight containers, whole and brown and heavy in the hand. Don’t pick any that are shriveled or in pieces, as they could be already spoiled or contaminated with mold.
Brazil nuts have a propensity to spoil quickly so buy them in reasonable amounts. It’s best to store Brazil nuts airtight in a cool, dark, dry place without exposure to humidity or sunlight. If you purchase the nut in a shell, it’s best to de-shell them and store them so they don’t rot inside the shell. You can also store whole Brazil nuts in an airtight bag in the refrigerator, where they can last for a few months.
There are a few side effects if these nuts are consumed in excess. They are as follows:
- Weight gain: Despite this wide array of health benefits, Brazil nuts have a high level of calories and saturated fat. Hence, before making these nuts a major part of your weekly diet, consult your health professional.
- Stomach upset: Consumption of more than the required amount of selenium can cause fatigue and stomach upset. An overdose of selenium can also cause brittle nails and hair fall.
- Heart issues: Even though their ability to balance cholesterol levels can help prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, we can’t overlook the presence of high amounts of dangerous saturated fat in Brazil nuts. So, be careful and don’t consume these nuts in excess, as they are also high in calories. The recommended serving size of this beneficial snack is about six average-sized nuts.
- Hypertension: Avoid purchasing salted Brazil nuts as salt contains high levels of sodium, which can cause hypertension.
- Allergies: Also, as with all nuts, Brazil nut allergies can be quite severe. So, be sure to be tested for any potential nut allergy before consuming these nuts, particularly in oil form. Consuming large quantities of Brazil nuts may cause nervousness and can even lead to paralysis in some cases. It is very essential to consume these nuts in moderation
Brazil nuts are delicious on their own, but they can also be used in all kinds of recipes. You can also usethem to make a homemade dairy-free milk. Brazil nut milk is actually fairly easy to make and is very creamy and nutritious.
Easy Brazil Nut Milk Recipe
- 2 cups Brazil nuts
- 4 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2–3 pitted, raw Medjool dates or ½ tablespoon maple syrup to sweeten (optional)
- 2–3 tablespoons of cinnamon or cacao for additional flavor (optional)
- Soak the Brazil nuts along with the vanilla bean in water for 8 hours or overnight.
- Discard the soaking water and rinse off the Brazil nuts and vanilla bean.
- Place Brazil nuts and vanilla bean in blender with 4 cups of fresh, filtered water and blend until smooth. If you opt for sweetener and/or flavoring, place those ingredients in along with nuts as well.
- Place the blended mixture in a nut milk bag and strain into a glass jar.
- Keep stored in an airtight jar in refrigerator.
You can save the nut pulp for another use like making cookies, crackers or even hummus. The name doesn’t sound that appetizing, but this recipe is sure to be tasty and loaded with nutrients as well.
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