The chewy, nutty, and distinctive flavor of a Brazil nut is hard to beat, especially when you consider how good it is for you. This once humble nut native to South America is on the radar of fitness enthusiasts and health conscious A-listers.
1 oz of Brazil nuts (6 kernels) contains1
- 185 calories
- 2 g fiber (8% DV)
- 4 g protein (8% DV)
- 3 g carbohydrates
- 13 g unsaturated fats
- 186.8 mg potassium (5% DV)
- 544 mcg selenium (777% DV)
A source of several vital nutrients and minerals, Brazil nuts are a good natural means to maintain overall health. They are used in naturopathy as part of an overall balanced diet or as an alternative to artificial supplements for these nutrients.
Here’s how Brazil nuts pack in a punch, one nut at a time!
1. Lower Cholesterol
Not all fat is bad for your heart. Brazil nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, palmitoleic acid, and oleic acid – also called “good cholesterol” – that are good for your heart. They play a key role in reducing the omega-6 fatty acids in the body that are responsible for cardiovascular problems. By balancing your cholesterol levels, brazil nuts can help reduce heart attacks and stroke. Additionally, the flavonoids, phenols, tocopherol, squalene, and phytosterol in the nuts have antioxidant properties, which reduce your risk of developing atherosclerosis.2 On the flip side, due to their high content of saturated fats, Brazil nuts must be taken in very small numbers.
2. Fight Cancer
The antioxidant benefits of Brazil nuts can be reaped by consuming the nut or topically using the oil extracted from it.
The same antioxidants in Brazil nuts that help prevent atherosclerosis are beneficial in preventing certain cancers. A study from Cornell University and the University of Arizona demonstrated that those test subjects who took 200 mcg selenium (which Brazil nuts are packed with) every day for at least 10 years showed a significant reduction (as much as 41%) in cancer rates compared to those who did not.3
3. Protect Your Skin
The selenium present in Brazil nuts is great for your skin. It gives your skin a glow and an improved elasticity. As an antioxidant, selenium also prevents premature aging and gives you a younger-looking skin.6 Also, the high levels of zinc found in these nuts prevent and clear acne breakouts.
4. Help With Weight Loss
The blend of high fiber, protein, nutrients, and complex carbohydrates makes the Brazil nut a filling snack for anyone who is trying to get healthy or lose weight. By increasing satiety, the nuts keep you from overeating. Your intake must, however, be limited to a few nuts – no more than 8 – since they’re not easily digested by your body.7
5. Balance Hormones
Selenium present in Brazil nuts regulates thyroid function. The nuts also carry a significant amount of copper, which also helps balance your thyroid level.8
Brazil nuts are also considered to be good for “pacifying vata.” According to Ayurveda, vata represents all that is dry, cool, light, and rough. To balance the body and any excess vata, it is important to have foods that neutralize it. The oily and warm nature of the nut is ideal to restore the body and balance vata.9
6. Promote Bone And Dental Health
Thanks to their copper and phosphorus content, Brazil nuts can also help maintain bone and dental health.10
7. Treat Alzheimer’s
Selenium to the rescue, yet again! The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of selenium can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.11 The nuts also contain lecithin, a fatty substance that enhances the concentration of neurotransmitters responsible for brain function.12
8. Tackle Selenium Deficiency
Common in nations where the soil is low in selenium, selenium deficiency has been associated with heart disease, asthma, anxiety, depression, seizures, and rheumatoid arthritis. One study among New Zealanders found that those suffering from this deficiency could benefit from the inclusion of Brazil nuts in their diet and recommended this over fortified foods or supplements.13
Soak Brazil Nuts Before Eating
As with all nuts, ayurveda recommends you first soak the dried nuts to rehydrate them, thereby reducing the phytic acid content that aggravates and irritates the stomach.14 Under ayurvedic principles, if you have a weak digestive system, you should avoid eating too many of these nuts. Also, give the Brazil nuts a pass if you have are allergic or sensitive to nuts.
Eat Just 6–8 Nuts A Day
While Brazil nuts are great for health, having too many of them can be counterproductive. They are high in saturated fats and a single serving can give you as much as 21% of the RDA, that is, 200 calories to your day.15
Eat about 6–8 Brazil nuts every day to maintain optimum health.
More alarmingly, extremely high consumption to the tune of 10 times more than your daily recommended intake of selenium could lead to nervous disorders, skin rashes, diarrhea, and fatigue, and leave your hair and nails brittle.
|↑1||https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3641?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=brazil+nut" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, Basic Report: 12078, Nuts, brazil nuts, dried, unblanched. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑2, ↑6, ↑8, ↑10||Yang, Jun. “Brazil nuts and associated health benefits: A review.” LWT-Food Science and Technology 42, no. 10 (2009): 1573-1580.|
|↑3||Combs, G. F., L. C. Clark, and B. W. Turnbull. “An analysis of cancer prevention by selenium.” Biofactors 14, no. 1‐4 (2001): 153-159.|
|↑4, ↑13||Thomson, Christine D., Alexandra Chisholm, Sarah K. McLachlan, and Jennifer M. Campbell. “Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 2 (2008): 379-384.|
|↑5||Baraboĭ, V. A., and E. N. Shestakova. “Selenium: the biological role and antioxidant activity.” Ukrains’ kyi biokhimichnyi zhurnal (1999) 76, no. 1 (2004): 23-32.|
|↑7||Vadivel, Vellingiri, Catherine N. Kunyanga, and Hans K. Biesalski. “Health benefits of nut consumption with special reference to body weight control.” Nutrition 28, no. 11 (2012): 1089-1097.|
|↑9||ramaiah Ramakrishna, Basavapatna. “HEALTHY LIFE-STYLE PRESCRIPTIONS FOR DIFFERENT PERSONALITY TYPES (TRIDOSHA PRAKRITI).” Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine (JAHM) 2, no. 7 (2014): 30-36.|
|↑11||Santos, Jose R., Auderlan M. Gois, D. M. Mendonça, and M. A. Freire. “Nutritional status, oxidative stress and dementia: the role of selenium in Alzheimer’s disease.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience 6 (2014): 206-206.|
|↑12||Singhal, Anil Kumar, Vijay Naithani, and Om Prakash Bangar. “Medicinal plants with a potential to treat Alzheimer and associated symptoms.” International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases 2, no. 2 (2012): 84.|
|↑14||Igbedioh, Sylvester O., Kehinde T. Olugbemi, and Maurice A. Akpapunam. “Effects of processing methods on phytic acid level and some constituents in bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea) and pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan).” Food Chemistry 50, no. 2 (1994): 147-151.|
|↑15||https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3641?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=brazil+nut" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, Basic Report: 12078, Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched. United States Department of Agriculture|