Brazil nuts, scientifically known as Bertholletia excelsa, are derived from trees with the same name. These trees are native to South America, particularly in the countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.
Brazil nuts are said to have a smooth and buttery texture and a nutty flavor. They can be eaten raw or blanched.
Here are seven reasons to add these nutritious nuts to your diet:
Brazil nuts are one of the healthiest nuts on the market. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that these nuts are a rich source of energy, healthy fats, and protein. An ounce (28.35 grams, g) of Brazil nuts contains the following nutrients:
According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, Brazil nuts are packed with high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which can aid in weight management, reduce inflammation, and prevent heart disease.
Brazil nuts are considered one of the best sources of selenium, a mineral that plays a key role in reproductive health, immune response, and metabolism. Each nut contains an average of 96 micrograms (mcg) of selenium, which exceeds the recommended dietary intake of 55 mcg. Studies have also found that higher selenium intake can lead to improved mood, reduced cancer risk, and enhanced immunity. (Related: The mineral selenium proves itself as powerful anti-cancer medicine.)
The thyroid is responsible for secreting hormones that help with growth, temperature regulation, and metabolism. Because selenium is important for the production of hormones like triiodothyronine (T3) and proteins that protect the thyroid gland from damage, the highest concentration of this mineral can be found in the thyroid.
Low selenium intake has been linked to reduced thyroid activity and a higher risk of thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism. This suggests that meeting the daily requirement for selenium intake is important for the maintenance of proper thyroid function.
Adequate selenium intake can also improve the symptoms of thyroid disorders. Studies have shown that selenium supplementation can enhance both mood and immune function in people with Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
People with another thyroid disorder called Graves' disease can also benefit from eating selenium-rich Brazil nuts. A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that high selenium intake can improve thyroid function in people with this autoimmune disease.
Brazil nuts are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help keep cells healthy by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage healthy cells. According to Brazilian researchers, a 20 to 50 g serving of Brazil nuts can significantly decrease the levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming nuts can help lower bad cholesterol by at least 25 percent. Brazil nuts, in particular, contain heart-healthy fats like MUFAs and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Brazil nuts are nutritional powerhouses that provide substantial health benefits. These make them a good superfood to add to any diet. However, to avoid excessive selenium intake, it is advisable to eat Brazil nuts in moderation.