Brazil nuts come from the Bertholletia excelsa tree, which is in the Lecythidaceae family and found in the Amazon. In Brazil, they are known as semilla de Brazil, which means Brazilian seed.
Brazil nuts are often eaten raw or blanched, and although they are called nuts they are actually seeds. In the tropics, monkeys and birds eat the nuts. They are much larger than almonds or peanuts, and resemble coconuts, growing to be up to 5 lbs and each pod can hold up to 12-20 seeds. The tree itself can grow to be more than 200 ft, able to produce more than 250 lbs of nuts in a year.
Just one or two Brazil nuts a day can add several different vitamins and minerals to our diet. Each nut has around 0.7g grams of protein (14% by weight), 33 calories, and contain selenium, magnesium, iron and other nutrients. Brazil nuts have many healthful properties, and by adding just two brazil nuts to your daily diet could help tremendously. Here are just some of the benefits.
Known to help fight inflammation, there are many health conditions that Brazil nuts can help with. They contain ellagic acid, which is a micronutrient and polyphenol.
In studies, it is shown to fight against wrinkles by preventing collagen loss and inflammation. This compound can also have neuroprotective effects. Even just one Brazil nut a day can have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
In a study, ellagic acid is shown to be effective in treating tumors. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium and are the number 1 food source of selenium. Just one a day can provide 160% of the RDA of selenium. Selenium can benefit can help in the prevention of different types of cancer like breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. A Chinese study showed a positive correlation between selenium intake and incidence of esophageal cancer.
Selenium is has been cited as a natural way to help improve mood. According to one relevant, albeit older study, people reported having a better mood and sense of well being after supplementing with only 100mcg selenium for 5 weeks. Supplementation with the same amount has also shown to be beneficial in preventing post-natal depression. Just one or two Brazil nuts a day is a simple and affordable way to get all of the selenium that you need.
Selenium naturally occurs in our bodies mostly as selenocysteine, which is apart of many different selenoproteins. These support many important functions by acting as antioxidants, regulating thyroid hormones, supporting liver detoxification and aiding our immune systems.
Selenium-dependent enzymes are used by the body to help remove iodine molecules present in Thyroxin (T4 hormone). These convert to triiodothyronine (T3 hormone), which is the active thyroid hormone responsible for the majority of functions connected with thyroid hormones.
The Thyroid gland requires Hydrogen peroxide to produce thyroid hormones. This is known to cause the thyroid to bear oxidative stress. Selenium is needed for the production of glutathione peroxidase, which helps protect the thyroid from this oxidative stress.
- “Deep Jungle: Monsters of the Forest.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 24 Oct. 2014, www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/deep-jungle-monsters-of-the-forest-the-amazing-brazil-nut-tree/3365/.
- “Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic Revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7720. Https://Doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720.” doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f.
- Got nuts? (2018, February 14). Retrieved from https://bernaubodies.com/2018/02/04/got-nuts/
- Zhang, Hong-Mei et al. “Research progress on the anticarcinogenic actions and mechanisms of ellagic acid” Cancer biology & medicine vol. 11,2 (2014): 92-100
- Price, A. (2018, July 02). Brazil Nuts: The Healthy Nuts that Aren’t Actually Nuts. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/brazil-nuts/
- The impact of selenium supplementation on mood. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1873372
- Dietary supplements for preventing postnatal depression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24158923
- Selenium. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/selenium
- Dual oxidase, hydrogen peroxide and thyroid diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20407074
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