Posted by: godshealingplants | May 18, 2018

BRAZIL NUTS FOR YOUR HEALTH

HISTORY

The Brazil nut has been eaten by the native people of the region for hundreds of years. But the first mention of the Brazil nut from Western sources goes back to 1569 during a time when Spanish and Portuguese explorers came upon them. The Brazil nut has been exported to Europe since as early as 1633.

ABOUT

Brazil nuts are the No. 1 food source on the planet for selenium, which fights inflammation and more.

Though commonly called nuts, Brazil nuts are actually seeds from the Brazil nut tree, one of the largest trees growing upward of 200 feet found in the Amazon.

Brazil nuts are harvested in the wild and exclusively in the wet season of the rain forest. Some areas in Brazil, however, due to high demand, have started to build Brazil nut plantations. It’s actually illegal in Brazil to cut down a Brazil nut tree so you can even find them along roads and in backyards across South America growing wild. These massive trees can live between 500 to 800 years!

Brazil nuts can be eaten raw or blanched. The nuts grow inside a round, coconut-like shell, in orange-like segments which, when split open, reveals around 12-20 nuts.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Brazil nuts are largely a monounsaturated fat, which is a good fat, but they also contain some protein as well as being a good source of important nutrients including magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamin E and some B vitamins.

Brazil nuts are most renowned, though, for their high selenium content, and are in fact the richest known food source of this important nutrient. Selenium is an essential mineral and antioxidant that is needed daily for a healthy immune system and it helps to prevent damage to our nerves and cells. In fact, five to six Brazil nuts a day will provide your recommended daily allowance of selenium.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Studies show that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from selenium deficiency, which makes Brazil nuts an important dietary choice. Selenium also helps reduce toxic mercury levels and thus, the incidence of cancer in the body.

Anticancer – Selenium, an essential trace element, has been shown to reduce and prevent the incidence of cancer. Some animal studies show that the selenium can help reduce toxic mercury levels, which can further help fight cancer.  The glutathione enabled by the presence of selenium is an enzymatic antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in all parts of the body that cause cancer.

Anti-inflammatory – The high ellagic acid and selenium levels in the nuts make it a top anti-inflammatory food source. Ellagic acid also has potent neuroprotective properties. Furthermore, zinc in Brazil nuts reduces inflammations and helps flush out toxins.

Hair Care – The L-arginine, an amino acid in the nuts, is mainly used to treat alopecia or male baldness as it encourages the growth of lustrous, thick hair. Brazil nuts are also rich in omega 3s, vitamin E, and selenium, which help to make the hair shiny, healthy and less prone to breakage.

Improve Bone Mineral Density – The copper content in the Brazil nut helps to improve bone mineral density and in the formation of bone tissues. It also helps in the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.

Improve Heart Health – Brazil nuts have a surprisingly high content of healthy unsaturated fats, commonly known as HDL or good forms of cholesterol or omega-3 fatty acids. This includes oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These varieties of unsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium content in Brazil nuts are connected with balancing the cholesterol profile of the body and improving heart health.

Mental Health – Brazil nuts, rich in thiamin, help keep the nervous system healthy and strong. They also help prevent Alzheimer’s and stress-related mental disorders.

Mood Lifter – Low levels of selenium are linked to anxiety, stress, and tiredness, according to recent research. Also, nut consumption increases the metabolism of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical, which controls mood, appetite, and sleep. Thus, regular intake of Brazil nuts rich in selenium can help relieve the various issues caused by selenium deficiency such as depression, mood issues, fatigue, and stress.

Muscle Function – Brazil nuts are a major source of complete protein, with all the essential amino acids, which help to improve and strengthen muscles. They also contain magnesium, which helps prevent the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, thus preventing soreness.

Skin Care – Copper in Brazil nuts aids in the production of melanin, a color pigment that protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays, and thereby prevents skin cancer. The selenium, omega 3-fatty acids, and vitamins C and E in Brazil nuts give the skin a healthy glow and improve the elasticity of the skin, thereby preventing premature aging. Selenium stimulates the activity of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant compound that can remove free radicals from the skin cells that cause wrinkles and even skin cancer. Also, Brazil nut oil is an excellent emollient which helps prevent skin dryness, eczema, and psoriasis.

The high zinc content in Brazil nuts has been shown to protect against acne or lessen its appearance. This can be achieved through normal consumption of the nuts or by application of Brazil nut oil on the affected area.

Thyroid Control – The selenium content, in Brazil nuts, plays a major role in the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid helps control your metabolism, heart rate and body temperature. The thyroid gland has more selenium content per gram of tissue than any other organ in your body. Selenium is a key component of the molecules that are necessary for your body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones. The selenium in Brazil nuts can help to keep your thyroid in proper working order and in overall good health.

Zinc Deficiency – Zinc in Brazil nuts helps treat acrodermatitis enteropathica. This is a rare genetic disorder in which the body is unable to absorb sufficient amounts of zinc.

HOW TO SELECT AND STORE

You can buy Brazil nuts in the shell or without. Look for whole Brazil nuts that are stored in airtight containers. Don’t pick any that are shriveled or in pieces, as they could be already spoiled or contaminated with mold.

Brazil nuts have a propensity to spoil quickly so buy them in reasonable amounts. It’s best to store Brazil nuts airtight in a cool, dark, dry place without exposure to humidity or sunlight.  If you purchase the nut in a shell, it’s best to de-shell them and store them so they don’t rot inside the shell. You can also store whole Brazil nuts in an airtight bag in the refrigerator or freezer, where they can last for a few months.

HOW TO ENJOY

It’s best to eat Brazil nuts raw or blanched. Brazil nuts can also be sweetened and crushed for dessert toppings or even made into puddings, dips and cheeses.

Brazil nut milk is a highly nutritious and tasty alternative to almond, soy or regular dairy milk. However, it should only be used in small amounts or on occasion so you don’t overdo it in the selenium department.

You can save the nut pulp for another use like making cookies, crackers or even hummus.

More unique and scrumptious options for incorporating Brazil nuts into your diet include:

Brazil nut bread with dry fruit

Lime, coconut, Brazil nut smoothie

Brazil nut chocolate covered balls

Shredded Brazil nut to sprinkle over your favorite recipe

Fresh salad sprinkled with Brazil nut chunks

Caramel glazed Brazil nut tart

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A WORD OF CAUTION

There are a few side effects if these nuts are consumed in EXCESS. They are as follows:

  • Weight gain: Despite this wide array of health benefits, Brazil nuts have a high level of calories and saturated fat.
  • Selenium overdose: Too much selenium can cause fatigue, stomach upset, and hair loss.
  • Allergies: Also, as with all nuts, Brazil nut allergies can be quite severe. So, be sure to be tested for any potential nut allergy before consuming these nuts, particularly in oil form.

RECOMMENDATION

The recommended serving size of this beneficial snack is MAXIMUM six average-sized nuts a day.

SOURCES

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10963212

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3091/2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1873372

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/deep-jungle-monsters-of-the-forest-the-amazing-brazil-nut-tree/3365/

 

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