Brazil Nuts: Proven Benefits, How Many to Eat Per Day, Nutrition Facts, Calories

Brazil Nuts Health Benefits and How Much to Take

Brazil nuts are a delicious, healthy treat that have many health benefits including keeping your immune system strong. The high selenium content in Brazil nuts has been linked to cancer prevention, maintaining a healthy thyroid, and protecting you against heart disease. You only need to eat 1 or 2 Brazil nuts every day to get the recommended daily allowance of selenium.

Apart from containing a healthy level of selenium, the proven benefits of Brazil nuts are also due to calcium, magnesium, and potassium in every nut. Brazil nuts are also an important source of healthy fatty acids that have antioxidant properties. So, eating one or two Brazil nuts at the start of each day is a great way to give your general health a great boost.

In this article, I will look at what scientific research has discovered about the link between Brazil nuts and good health. You will also find out about the side effects of regularly eating too many Brazil nuts.

What Are Brazil Nuts?

Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are actually a seed from the Brazil nut tree that grows in South America. The Portuguese name for Brazil nuts is semilla de Brazil, or Brazilian seed.

The seeds or Brazil nuts from the Brazil nut tree are encased in a large fruit that has a hard shell like a coconut. Each fruit from the tree can contain between 3 and 24 Brazil nuts that are contained in triangular-shaped shells. These nuts look like segments of an orange when you open the fruit.

Eating raw Brazil nuts is the healthiest way you can consume them. When comparing the nutrient content of other tree nuts, Brazil nuts have the highest levels of selenium and they contain more potassium, calcium, and magnesium than most other nuts.

Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts

Brazil nuts offer a lot of nutritional value as they are packed with healthy fats, fiber, protein, and a wide range of minerals and  vitamins.

The nutritional content of Brazil nuts means that they are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. Here are a few facts on the nutritional value of nuts from the Brazil nut tree.

Brazil nuts contain 60–70% oil and 17% protein. Brazil nuts contain abundant dietary antioxidants, especially selenium (Se). One single Brazil nut provides 160% of the US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of selenium. It is the best source of selenium from plant-based foods. Brazil nuts are also a rich source of phenolics (phytochemicals that account for most of the antioxidant activity in plants). They are also a rich source of flavonoids.(5)

One Brazil nut (5 g) contains just under 33 calories.

A study of the health benefits from consuming nuts has revealed that Brazil nuts are high in clean protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and folate. Eating 4 – 6 Brazil nuts a day can provide you with 27% of your magnesium RDA as well as providing calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and potassium. (1)

To find out more about improving your health naturally, please read my article on the amazing health benefits of nuts and seeds.

Brazil Nuts and Selenium

One of the most important reasons to eat a couple of Brazil nuts daily is because they contain selenium.

Selenium is an essential trace mineral that protects our body against damage by acting as an anti-oxidant. (27)

A 2017 study on the nutritional value of Brazil nuts found that they are the food with the richest source of selenium available. (3)

In fact, research carried out in 2008 found that eating just 2 Brazil nuts per day provided selenium for your daily requirements. After a 12-week period, plasma selenium levels in people who ate 10 grams of Brazil nuts (about 2 nuts) increased by over 60%. The researchers concluded that eating 2 Brazil nuts daily can prevent the need to take selenium supplements. (4)

Other studies on the nutritional benefits of consuming Brazil nuts have shown that just one Brazil nut can provide 160% RDA of selenium. (5)

Why selenium is important

Doctors from the National Institutes of Health say that selenium is critical in protecting the body from infection and oxidative damage. Selenium is also necessary for proper DNA synthesis and keeping your thyroid healthy. (6)

Low selenium levels in humans have been linked to increased risk of various diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. (27)

Apart from Brazil nuts, other dietary sources of selenium are seafood, grains, meat, eggs, and poultry. As expected, the best plant-based source of selenium is Brazil nuts.

Please read this article to find out the warning signs of selenium deficiency.

Calories in Brazil Nuts

The good news when it comes to eating Brazil nuts is that you don’t have to worry about calories.

One Brazil nut (5 g) contains just under 33 calories. When you consider that 1 – 2 of these Amazonian nuts meet your selenium requirements, it is not difficult to see why Brazil nuts are so nutritionally beneficial. (7)

Many nutritionists agree that consuming moderate amounts of nuts don’t increase body weight. In fact, eating the recommended amounts of Brazil nuts may even help you lose weight. (1)

How Many Brazil Nuts to Eat Per Day? Brazil Nuts Serving Size

Most studies show that you should eat one or two Brazil nuts per day to get the best health benefits. The serving size for Brazil nuts should be around 10 grams (or, 0.35 oz) of these healthy nuts.

Brazil Nuts Benefits

Most of the health benefits of Brazil nuts come from the selenium content. Let’s look in more detail at scientific research that shows how regular consumption of Brazil nuts is good for you.

Brazil Nuts Have Strong Antioxidant Properties

One of the greatest benefits of Brazil nuts is that they are full of antioxidants that kill off free radicals in your body. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that free radicals are connected with premature aging, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. (8)

Research carried out in 2016 found that Brazil nuts are among the healthy foods needed to help prevent certain diseases. It was found that a diet rich in antioxidants (including nuts from the Brazil nut tree) can help to lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. (9)

One study showed that consuming 2 or 3 Brazil nuts a day provided enough antioxidants in people and it helped to lower blood pressure and fat lipids in blood. (10)

Other studies into the reasons Brazil nuts are good for you have shown that regular consumption increases glutathione. (11) Glutathione is the most important antioxidant your body produces.

You can also increase this antioxidant levels by taking N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supplements.

Brazil Nuts May Prevent Cancer

Helping to prevent certain cancers is an extremely compelling reason to eat a few Brazil nuts daily.

In a 2000 Canadian study performed by scientists from the University of Montreal, researchers found that heightened levels of selenium—a key component of Brazil nuts—was associated with a reduced risk of developing colon cancer. (28) Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States and you must be aware of its 10 warning signs.

Another study found that consuming Brazil nuts along with other natural ingredients could help to reduce the risk of certain cancers. The study into the effects of Brazil nuts and green tea extract found that these ingredients can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in humans. (14)

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that “Brazil nuts are a convenient source of selenium and were shown to prevent mammary cancer in rats.”

In 2018, researchers discovered that supplementing your diet with Brazil nuts to prevent cancer is better than taking inorganic selenium supplements (sodium selenite). Research uncovered the fact that organic sources of selenium (i.e., Brazil nuts) are more effectively absorbed in your small intestine. (12)

Studies into the bioavailability (the amount the body can absorb) of selenium in Brazil nuts have found that a couple of Brazil nuts are just as good as selenium supplements. Researchers found that the levels of selenium in the body were directly linked to the number of Brazil nuts consumed. Researchers report that Brazil nuts can be just as effective as taking selenium supplements for cancer prevention. (13)

As well as consuming a couple of Brazil nuts daily to help reduce your risk of cancer, you should also learn about other foods that can help prevent cancer development.

Brazil Nuts May Help Reduce Inflammation

Another health problem that Brazil nuts are good for treating is to reduce inflammation in your body.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that that chronic inflammation is connected with almost every chronic disease. This includes cancer, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Controlling inflammation can help to reduce your risk of these chronic health conditions. (15)

A study into the nutritional benefits of consuming Brazil nuts found that even a single dose of these tasty nuts reduces inflammatory markers. Consuming between 4 and 10 Brazil nuts was effective in decreasing inflammation in the body. Researchers concluded that eating a few Brazil nuts daily could have the potential to reduce chronic inflammation. (16)

To help reduce your risk of developing chronic disease, please read my article on the best foods to lower inflammation.

Brazil Nuts Can Improve Thyroid Function

The selenium in Brazil nuts can also help to maintain your thyroid health and prevent the complications of thyroid disease.

Thyroid function plays a crucial role in many bodily processes, including effective metabolism and emotional regulation (mood and mental changes are one of the signs of a thyroid disorder).

A selenium-containing enzyme is responsible for transforming a less active thyroid hormone called T4 into the more active T3. In addition, selenium and iodine work together to keep thyroid function strong and consistent.

If you have thyroid disease, there is a high probability that you have lower than normal levels of selenium. Doctors agree that organic-based selenium supplements are necessary to help prevent thyroid disease. (17)

Scientific research has shown that eating just one Brazil nut per day is enough to raise T3 hormone levels naturally. In one study, patients with poor thyroid function were given one Brazil nut daily for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, thyroid hormone levels were significantly increased and levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) reduced. (18)

Brazil Nuts Can Increase Testosterone Levels in Men

Brazil nuts are healthy for men because they can increase testosterone levels and improve the quality of semen.

Low levels of selenium in men have been linked to low testosterone which can impact on male fertility. Researchers have discovered that the testicles contain high levels of selenium. Therefore, the quality of sperm is greatly affected by selenium levels in men. (19)

According to one study, selenium supplementation is often recommended to address problems of male infertility. In one trial, men received 200 mg of selenium and 600 mg N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) supplements daily. After 26 weeks scientists found that sperm concentration and sperm motility were increased. (20)

If you are concerned about infertility, please read my article on how to improve the lifespan of sperm.

Brazil Nuts May Lower Cholesterol

Another important reason for having a dose of one or 2 Brazil nuts every day is to reduce your cholesterol.

A small study on 10 volunteers found that consuming a number of Brazil nuts had a great impact on LDL cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol that doctors say is “bad” cholesterol. Consuming Brazil nuts reduced “bad” cholesterol in a 6-hour period. At the same time, levels of HDL (or, “good” cholesterol) actually increased. (21)

To help reduce your risk of stroke or heart disease, please read my article on how to lower cholesterol naturally.

Brazil Nuts Help Improve your Cardiovascular Health

The health benefits of regularly eating a small serving of Brazil nuts (2 – 4 nuts) daily also extend to your cardiovascular health in general.

A study on obese women found that the bioactive compounds and unsaturated fatty acids in “semilla de Brazil” (Brazil nut) improved vascular health. The women consumed 3 – 5 Brazil nuts per day. After 16 weeks, red blood cell health was improved, selenium levels were increased, cholesterol was down, and microvascular function was improved. (22)

In a study published in LWT – Food Science and Technology in 2009, researchers found that people who ate Brazil nuts were at a reduced risk of developing atherosclerosis (thickening of arterial walls due to plaque buildup) thanks to the antioxidant effects of selenium in these powerful seeds.

To help reduce your risk of a heart attack, please read my article on foods to eat to keep your heart healthy. You should also consider making some lifestyle changes to prevent a heart attack.

Adding nuts to your daily nutrition is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

Brazil Nuts Could Help to Lower Blood Pressure

Because Brazil nuts have such a positive impact on your cardiovascular health, it should be no surprise that these South American nuts can help lower blood pressure.

Research published in 2015 found that regularly consuming Brazil nuts can help produce enzymes in the body that could lower blood pressure. As well as lowering “bad” cholesterol, Brazil nut supplementation helped to boost “enzymatic antioxidant activity” that has the effect of lowering blood pressure. (23)

If you suffer from high blood pressure, you can learn about other ways of lowering hypertension.

Brazil Nuts Fight Depression or Anxiety

One of the many benefits that Brazil nuts can give you is to help reduce feelings of depression or anxiety.

When studying the effects of selenium supplementation on mood, scientists found that increasing selenium helped to lift a person’s mood. People consumed the equivalent amount of selenium daily that is contained in one Brazil nut. Low levels of selenium were directly related to feelings of tiredness, depression, and anxiety. When selenium levels were in increased, participants reported positive changes in mood. (24)

If you are under emotional strain or battle with anxiety, please read this article to learn about ways of dealing with stress and anxiety naturally.

Brazil Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight

Even though Brazil nuts contain a relatively large number of calories, consuming a few Brazilian nuts daily can help you lose weight.

Nutritionists have found that nuts containing healthy fats (like Brazil nuts) can help improve metabolism and assist in weight loss. Researchers have discovered interesting facts about the influence of nuts in losing weight. For example, eating a few Brazil nuts in the morning can increase your feeling of satiety and reduce snacking. Consuming unsaturated fats has also been linked to better resting metabolic rate. (25)

If you want to lose weight fast, try eating a couple of Brazil nuts every morning, increase your physical activity, and eat more fiber to boost metabolism. These are just a few tweaks to help shed extra pounds.

Brazil Nuts Side Effects

There are very few side effects when consuming a few Brazil nuts daily or eating a large number at one time. However, some reported dangers of “semilla de Brazil” can include selenium toxicity and nut allergy reactions.

Brazil nut allergy

Although Brazil nuts are technically a seed, nuts from the Brazil nut tree can also cause symptoms of nut allergies.

A study into the allergy potential of Brazil nuts found that they contain proteins (forms of 2S albumin) that can result in allergic reactions. In some people, eating Brazil nuts can cause side effects like itching, hives, wheezing, swelling, diarrhea, and even anaphylactic shock. (26)

If you have an allergy to tree nuts, you should also avoid Brazil nuts.

Selenium toxicity

If you eat too many Brazil nuts you could end up with selenium poisoning. Although quite rare, Brazil nuts can cause a condition called selenium toxicity, or selenosis.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health report that selenium toxicity could result from eating large numbers of Brazil nuts over a long period of time. Each Brazil nut contains up to 91 mcg selenium per nut. Regularly consuming more than 400 mcg selenium a day could cause you to show signs of selenosis. (6)

This means that regularly eating more than 6 or 7 Brazil nuts daily could put you at risk of selenium poisoning. The dangers of eating too many Brazil nuts can include gastrointestinal upset, respiratory problems, hair loss and muscle tenderness. In rare cases, Brazil nut selenium poisoning could result in kidney failure or cardiac failure.

If you want to enjoy the many benefits of Brazil nuts, limit your portion size to 2 or 3 Brazil nuts per day.

This goes to prove that age-old adage about there being such a thing as “too much of a good thing”! Mix Brazil nuts with fruits to make a tasty, healthy snack to enjoy their health benefits.

Where to Buy Brazil Nuts?

You can buy Brazil nuts in most supermarkets, health stores, or online. You can buy Brazil nuts with or without their shells.

When you have bought your supply of Brazil nuts in your kitchen, you can eat them raw, crush them up and use as toppings on desserts, or add a couple of nuts to make yourself a delicious and nutritious smoothie.

How to Select and Store Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts contain oil and, therefore, they have a tendency to spoil. As with most nuts, you should store them in an airtight container in a dark place. Some people also store Brazil nuts in the freezer to extend their shelf life.

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