Brazil nuts (often referred to as cream nuts) are nuts that chiefly grow in the Amazon forest. They are often used in desserts for their rich, creamy and nutty flavour. The important health benefits of Brazil nuts include rectification of hormonal imbalance, improving immunity, delaying signs of aging, lowering cancer and related risks due to its anti-carcinogenic properties and improving digestion.
A key nutritional aspect of Brazil nuts is that they have high amounts of Selenium. Not many foods contain this. Selenium helps to prevent cancer, loss of vision and heart/coronary diseases. They also contain Magnesium, dietary fibre, phosphorous, manganese and potassium.
Health benefits of Brazil nuts
To prevent Cancer
The Selenium present in Brazil nuts can activate selenoprotein and these in turn make free radicals work better to protect the body against diseases. In other words, selenium acts as a facilitator for anti-oxidants activity. A dosage of about 200 mg a day of Selenium can be very beneficial to protect the body from cancer.
“It is postulated that the cancer mortalities in the U.S. and other Western industrialized nations would decline significantly if the dietary selenium intakes were increased to approximately twice the current average amount supplied by the U.S. diet.”
Source: G.N. Schrauzer, D.A. White, C.J. Schneider, Cancer mortality correlation studies-III: Statistical associations with dietary selenium intakes, In Bioinorganic Chemistry, Volume 7, Issue 1, 1977, Pages 23-34, ISSN 0006-3061, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3061(00)80126-X.
For better digestion
Brazil nuts contain substantial amounts of B Vitamins and these help in improving metabolism as well as enhancing the digestive process of the body. And for all the talk about fat present in Brazil nuts, the great thing is that these nuts actually help in lowering bad cholesterol levels! We often incorrectly tend to connect fat present in foods with cholesterol levels. Brazil nuts prove you wrong.
“Brazil nuts intake improved the lipid profile and microvascular function in obese adolescents, possibly due to its high level of unsaturated fatty acids and bioactive substances. Our results show that short-term intake of Brazil nuts added to diet of an obese female adolescent group did not change body mass or waist circumference, but, as a nutrient rich in bioactive substances, it positively influenced lipid profile and nutritive microvascular reactivity.”
Priscila, M. A. et al., 2011. Brazil nuts intake improves lipid profile, oxidative stress and microvascular function in obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition & Metabolism, 8(32).
To improve male fertility
These nuts can increase testosterone levels in men. Brazil nuts contain an amino acid called arginine and this can increase blood flow to the genitals. As a result, brazil nuts improve male fertility.
Supports weight loss
Brazil nuts are good for weight loss for three reasons.
- They have substantial amounts of dietary fibre.
- They contain gluten free protein which is something every person on a weight loss diet would love!
- It can give you instant energy due to the presence of fat.
But, it has to be borne in mind that minimal consumption of Brazil nuts would be advisable for those trying to lose weight. Too much consumption can turn against the goal and make you gain weight.
Cures thyroid and hormonal imbalance
In addition to Selenium, zinc is present in Brazil nuts. If you are suffering from hormonal or thyroid imbalance, other than proper intake of iodine, you can consume Brazil nuts to cure the thyroid imbalance. One or two nuts per day should be sufficient.
The Selenium present in Brazil nuts can boost anti-oxidants in the body and thereby strengthen the immune system. In addition, it works by fighting various bacterial and viral infections. Brazil nuts can be given to kids regularly to build a strong and healthy immune system. Since Brazil nuts also taste really good, it should be easy to get them to eat just 2-3 nuts a day.
“One single Brazil nut provides 160% of the US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of selenium – perhaps the best source of Se from plant-based foods. Brazil nuts possess phenolics and flavonoids in both free and bound forms and are rich in tocopherol, phytosterols, and squalene. These compounds’ possible beneficial effects are due to their antioxidant and antiproliferative activities, which are linked to a reduced risk for developing atherosclerosis and cancer.”
Source – Jun Yang, Brazil nuts and associated health benefits: A review, In LWT – Food Science and Technology, Volume 42, Issue 10, 2009, Pages 1573-1580, ISSN 0023-6438, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lwt.2009.05.019.
For skin health
Vitamin E is very good for skin health. Brazil nuts contain this antioxidant vitamin. This helps to improve and protects the health of the skin. Since they can help in better collagen production, it helps to repair skin.
How to consume Brazil nuts?
You can include just a couple of Brazil nuts in your desserts, while making baked goods and as salad dressing. You can also add a drop of the essential oil of Brazil nuts to cooking. But ensure that the essential oil is edible, it is made without adulteration and can be stored for a while.
Side effects of Brazil nuts
Since they have high fat content, too much consumption could lead to weight gain.
Some are allergic to Brazil nuts and they may see rashes or lesions post consumption of the nut. So, check if you are allergic and then safely consume them.
Brazil nuts contain high amounts of radium and hence too much consumption on a regular basis is definitely not good.