Brazil Nuts: Properties, Nutrition And Uses In The Kitchen

The Brazil nut stands out for its versatility and its significant nutrient content. What are its benefits? Find out below!
Brazil nuts: properties, nutrition and uses in the kitchen

The Brazil nut ( Bertholletia excelsa) is the edible seed of a tree native to the Amazon rainforest of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. It is an energetic and nutrient-rich food whose intake has a positive impact on health.

The fruit that this tree produces is very large and is shaped like a coconut. Inside it there are between 10 and 24 seeds that are the edible part we know. So, contrary to popular belief, it is not an oilseed. However, she shares many of your characteristics.

In particular, it has a crunchy texture that becomes creamy as it is chewed. Its mild flavor is reminiscent of raw almonds. Added to this, it contains vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that can improve food quality. Want to know more about its benefits? Keep reading!

Nutritional values ​​of Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are characterized by providing a large supply of nutrients and energy. Below, we detail the nutritional values ​​of 100 grams of raw edible portion.

  • Water: 3.42 grams.
  • Energy: 659 kilocalories.
  • Protein: 14.3 grams.
  • Lipids: 67.1 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 11.7 grams.
  • Fibers: 7.5 grams.
  • Calcium: 160 milligrams.
  • Magnesium: 376 milligrams.
  • Phosphorus: 725 milligrams.
  • Zinc: 4.6 milligrams.
  • Selenium: 1920 micrograms.
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 0.617 milligrams.
  • Vitamin E: 5.65 milligrams.

These seeds stand out for their energy supply, healthy fats and dietary fiber. Furthermore, they are one of the most important sources of trace elements such as selenium.

Nutritional values ​​of Brazil nuts
The Brazil nut stands out for its significant content of selenium. In addition, it contains fiber and healthy fats.

Possible benefits of Brazil nuts

A review released by Food Research International notes that Brazil nuts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and serum lipid-modulating properties. Therefore, its consumption contributes to the promotion of well-being.

Important source of selenium

Selenium is an essential component for the body, which means that it must be supplied through food as the body cannot manufacture it. It is a trace element that affects the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, the immune system and the production of antioxidant enzymes.

Thyroid function

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the throat. Its function is to secrete hormones with essential functions in growth, metabolism and body temperature regulation.

Its tissues contain a good amount of selenium, necessary both for the production of T3 hormones and for the proteins that protect the thyroid from oxidative damage. A low selenium intake is related to reduced activity of this gland and disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.

If you suffer from any of these illnesses, selenium can help improve some symptoms. In Hashimoto’s disease, there are studies that show an improvement in the immune response and mood. However, more scientific evidence is needed to support the use of selenium in the treatment of these pathologies.

cardiovascular health

In general, oilseeds are good for the heart and have a preventive activity against the onset of cardiovascular diseases. These have an interesting amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in addition to antioxidants, phenolic compounds, minerals and fibers.

To assess this possible relationship, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a recent prospective study. It has been running for 10 years, with adults aged 30 to 70, living in 16 countries on 5 continents.

After this period, when analyzing the data obtained, the authors concluded that “ a higher consumption of oilseeds is associated with a lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular causes in low, middle and high income countries ”.

These findings support the expert advice of the American Heart Association. Replacing saturated and trans fats with other monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats helps reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Consequently, the chances of heart disease or stroke are reduced.

Body weight

Brazil nuts have a high energy supply due to the considerable amount of fat they provide. For this reason, many believe they are fattening and not suitable for weight-loss diets.

However, in recent years, scientific evidence has emerged that refutes this belief and even casts opposite data. It was observed that the consumption of oilseeds is related to a lower incidence of overweight and obesity, as they can help to reduce body fat.

Diabetes

The nutritional content of Brazil nuts appears to be useful in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. A study published in the journal Nutrients  analyzed the possible mechanisms that could explain this property.

The presence of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibers, polyphenols and minerals seems to be the main reason. They have a positive effect on blood glucose balance, body weight control and vascular health.

Glucose Levels
Ingesting Brazil nuts as part of a healthy and varied diet can help keep glucose levels stable.

Antioxidants

Due to the presence of selenium and vitamin E, these seeds have the property of neutralizing the action of free radicals. A balance between these two components is necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

When free radicals exceed the body’s ability to stop them, oxidative stress and damage to DNA, proteins and lipids occur. In turn, this situation has been related to the appearance of some chronic degenerative diseases and premature aging.

Possible contraindications

In general, it can be said that Brazil nuts are a safe food for a large part of the population. Still, there is a percentage of people who are allergic to them. There is evidence that this food may be a common allergen, regardless of the existence of other oilseed allergies.

It is worth saying that a very high consumption of Brazil nuts is not synonymous with more benefits. Because it contains such a high amount of selenium, there is a risk of intoxication by this component, known as “selenosis”. Some of its symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Intestinal problems.
  • Loss of hair.
  • Brittle nails.
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle or joint pain

In rare cases, other complications can occur, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, myocardial infarction, renal failure and heart failure.

The average selenium content per 1 Brazil nut is about 68-91 micrograms. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 400 micrograms for both men and women. Thus, ingesting 1 or 2 units of these seeds per day seems to be a safe option.

How to insert Brazil nuts in the diet?

Brazil nuts can be consumed alone as a snack to quench hunger or added to the preparation of other dishes. In salads, sauteed, with yogurt, muesli or oatmeal, they are a perfect nutritional complement  that also adds flavor and texture.

They are also a common ingredient in sweets. One of its best combinations is chocolate, so it can be added to brownie recipes in place of (or combined with) nuts.

If used whole, they are perfect for decorating cakes and fruit pies, as they have a very original and attractive format. Crushed into irregular pieces or in the form of flour, they can be used to make sponge or cheesecake bases.

What should we remember about Brazil nuts?

This food is ideal to add regularly to the diet as it provides energy, antioxidants and lots of nutrients. It is very practical, versatile and goes well with savory and sweet dishes.

Its consumption is recommended for almost everyone, except children under 3 years (due to the risk of suffocation) and allergic people. Moderate servings of about 2 units per day are recommended in combination with other oilseeds such as hazelnuts or almonds.

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