I have always loved Brazil Nuts ever since I first remember my father shelling one for me at Christmas as a child. So it was great to discover that they are also exceptionally healthy, too! Brazil Nuts are part of the category of “sweet” foods and thus associated with the health of the spleen and stomach.
Here are some of the other health benefits I discovered:-
Brazil Nuts are high in calories, contain good quantities of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Its kernels, in-fact, have been staple energy sources of native Amazonians; even today
100 g of Brazil Nuts provide about 656 calories. Their high caloric content mostly comes from their fats. The great news is that much of this fat content is mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like palmitoleic acid (16:1) and oleic acid (18:1) that helps lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol" levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that a diet that is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids offers protection from coronary artery disease and strokes by encouraging healthy blood lipids
The nuts are also a great source of vitamin-E; and contain about 7.87mg per 100 g (about 52% of RDA). Vitamin-E is a powerful antioxidant. It is required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucusa and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals
Brazil Nuts hold exceptionally high levels of selenium. 100g nuts provide about 1917 µg or 3485% recommended daily intake of selenium, rating them as the highest natural source of this mineral. Selenium is an important cofactor for anti-oxidant enzyme, glutathione-peroxidase. Just 1-2 nuts a day provides enough of this trace element. Adequate selenium in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers
Additionally, these creamy nuts are an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin (51% of RDA per 100g), riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and folates
In addition to selenium, they hold very good levels of other minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Copper helps prevent anaemia and bone weakness (osteoporosis). Manganese is an all-important co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase
Brazil Nut oil, extracted from these nuts, has many traditional medicinal applications as an emollient and massage oil. It has a clear yellow colour with a pleasant sweet smell and taste. Its emollient property helps keep skin well protected from dryness. It has also been used in the cooking, and as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines as well as in aromatherapy; pharmaceutical and the cosmetic industry.
Brazil Nuts can be available raw (unshelled or shelled), roasted, and salted. Since the nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats, they may turn rancid and deteriorate rather early if they are exposed to air, humidity, and sunlight. It is therefore recommended to purchase unshelled nuts and shell them as and when required to enjoy their edible meaty kernel.
Buy whole brown colour nuts that feel full, compact and heavy in the hand. Avoid shrivelled and damaged ones as they may be affected by fungal mould. Unshelled Brazil Nuts will keep well in a cool, dry place for several months. The best way to store them is to put them in air-sealed bags and place them inside the refrigerator. This method will prevent them from turning rancid.
Brazil Nut allergy, like other tree-nut allergies, may occur in some sensitive individuals. The reaction symptoms may range from simple skin itching (hives), to severe form of anaphylactic manifestations, including breathing difficulty, pain abdomen, vomiting and diarrhoea. Cross-reactions may occur to some other nuts and fruits, especially of Anacardiaceae family such as mango, cashew nut and pistachio etc. So if you have known allergic reactions to any of these nuts, it is best to avoid them.
Excess consumption of these nuts may result in selenium toxicity. Often the symptoms may be severe, including nausea, vomiting, garlic odour on your breath and emotional disturbances. Other likely manifestations may include dental problems, alopecia (loss of hair), neuropathic pain, dermatitis, etc. It is therefore advised to eat only a few nuts (2-4 nuts) per day (each nut weighs about 5g).