Brazil nuts are the edible seeds of the tree Bertholletia excelsa that belongs to the plant family Lecythidaceae. The tree is native to South America, and it can reach a height of about 30 to 45 meters. The edible seeds of this tree are crescent-shaped, and they remain enclosed in a hard-walled fruit that closely resembles a coconut. A single fruit can contain approximately 8 to 24 seeds or Brazil nuts. The nuts of this tree are known for being one of the richest dietary sources of selenium, a vital mineral for human health.
Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts
These nuts are known for their great taste and health benefits. Besides being an excellent source of selenium, they contain a significant amount of magnesium, phosphorus, and thiamine. They are also a good source of proteins and dietary fiber. 28 g Brazil nuts contain about 190 calories, of which 170 calories can be attributed to its fat content, of which 5 g is saturated fats, 7 g is monounsaturated fats, and the rest 7 g is polyunsaturated fats.
The protein content is about 4 g, while fiber and sugar contents are 2 g and 1 g respectively. Again, 28 g Brazil nuts contain about 190 mg potassium, 4 g carbohydrates, and 0 g cholesterol, trans fats, and sodium. Apart from these, the same amount of Brazil nuts can provide 20% of the daily recommended value for phosphorus, 8% of the daily recommended value for zinc, 25% of the daily recommended value for magnesium and copper, 15% of the daily recommended value for manganese, and 780% of the daily value for selenium. Additionally, they are a good source of vitamins, like thiamine and vitamin E.
These nuts are known for their high selenium content. Selenium is an important antioxidant that can protect the body cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive particles that can oxidize and damage the body cells and tissues. Selenium can neutralize such free radicals and provide protection against a number of diseases, including heart disease.
Selenium can also boost the immune system, and promote the synthesis of glutathione, which plays an important role in minimizing free radical damage. It is also required for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Apart from these, Brazil nuts can help control weight. The high protein and fiber content of these nuts can help reduce hunger. However, people trying to lose weight should control their total calorie intake, as the consumption of Brazil nuts alone cannot reduce weight.
These nuts are a good source of omega-6 fatty acids that can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Similarly, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in the nuts can help lower the level of cholesterol, and thereby reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The benefits of these healthy fats seem to outweigh the effects of a small amount of saturated fats found in the nuts.
Brazil nuts can prove beneficial in a rare inherited disorder, known as ‘Acrodermatitis enteropathica’. In this disorder, the body fails to absorb sufficient amounts of zinc from the diet, which can eventually cause zinc deficiency. These nuts contain a high level of zinc, and thus, they can help treat zinc deficiency.
So, we can conclude that the inclusion of a few Brazil nuts in the diet can improve our health and well-being. However, their excess consumption should be avoided, as they contain a very high level of selenium. The presence of excess selenium in the body can cause fatigue, irritability, and an upset stomach. Finally, it is better to consume the unsalted or lightly salted nuts, as salted nuts contain a high level of sodium, which can raise the level of blood pressure.