Brazil nuts are a great addition to any healthy diet. Regardless if you following a gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or any other lifestyle of eating, Brazil nuts can liven up your meals.
As long as you’re not allergic, these nuts provide some of the most potent health benefits and nutrients out of all other nuts.
Before we get into the awesome things that Brazil nuts do for us, let’s look at how these nuts are found in nature.
Shells Within A Shell
Brazil nuts are grown on giant trees located in South America. The nuts themselves are encased in a hard brown shell that usually requires a nut cracker to open up.
Each of these shells holds a single Brazil nut (technically, Brazil nuts are considered a seed in terms of botany). These shells are located inside a single pod that can hold up close to 10 Brazil nuts.
These pods and the nuts inside are harvested and exported worldwide from South America.
Oh, where do we start with this wonderful food?
Starting with the basics, Brazil nuts are very calorically dense, with most of its calories coming from healthy fats. These are the same fats that helps reduced LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol counts.
The macronutrient profile is ideal as well, especially if we’re interested in limiting our carb intake. Over 60% of the calories are from fats, with the remaining calories coming from proteins and carbs.
The amount of protein however are still plentiful for muscle and skin growth and repair.
Along with its high fiber concentration and nutrient density, these nuts are very filling. Simply adding them to any meal can make it that much more satiating, which is great for avoiding snacking and overeating.
Unlike many foods that are flavored and processed, Brazil nuts do not contain any gluten protein. This makes them ideal for a gluten-free diet and for those with gut issues.
As with any food worth their salt (no pun intended), just the correct macro profile isn’t enough. The micronutrients including various vitamins and minerals needs to be there as well.
Holding the title as the highest natural source of Selenium, Brazil nuts are definitely worth their weight in vitamins in minerals.
Not only is Selenium a potent cofactor for an important antioxidant enzyme, it also helps prevent coronary heart disease, various cancers, and liver cirrhosis.
Selenium also plays an important role in hormone regulation by keeping the thyroid gland in proper function and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
The combination of Vitamin E and Zinc makes Brazil nuts absolutely invaluable for healthy and beautiful skin. Vitamin E helps protects our skin cell membranes from oxygen-free radical, helping our skin maintain its vibrant and youthful look.
Combine the Vitamin E with the B-Complex group of Vitamins also found in Brazil nuts such as, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B-6, and Folates, you have the perfect recipe for healthy enzyme production for cellular substrate metabolism inside the body.
With Zinc being one of the most common mineral deficiencies among our population, Brazil nuts offers plenty of this mineral to make up for this deficit.
Along with Zinc and Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, and Iron are all plentiful in Brazil nuts. These minerals help prevent anemia, osteoporosis, and play an important role in producing potent antioxidant enzymes.
White blood cell production are stimulated along with various antioxidant enzymes from the Vitamin C found in Brazil nuts. These all help not only fight free-radicals and inflammation in our body, but ward off infections by boosting our immune system.
Few More Bonuses From Selenium
As mentioned already, selenium plays a big role in thyroid function and hormone regulation. It actually does this by converting an inactive thyroid hormone called T4 into the active form T3.
Some foods may help us generate more T4, but this type of hormone is of no use to us unless it’s converted to the active form T3, which is exactly what the Selenium in Brazil nuts for us.
For the guys, another great bonus we get from Selenium is the major boost in testosterone levels and the upregulation of sperm production and improved sperm motility.
But the benefits don’t stop with the guys. Dr. Ralph Moss, a proponent of alternative cancer treatments concluded through several studies that higher Selenium levels were associated with lower rates of breast cancer in women.
Not only is breast cancer risks lowered, but prostate cancer, colon or rectal cancer, and lung cancer rates all drastically lowered when patients were given Selenium. Exactly how much lower?
According to a 5 year study performed at the University of Arizona and Cornell University, prostate cancer decreased by 63%, colon or rectal cancer by 58%, and lung cancer by 46%.
Best Practices For Eating Brazil Nuts
It’s obvious that Brazil nuts is an excellent source of numerous nutrients and can be included in any diet. There are a few pointers though when it comes to buying, storing, and eating Brazil nuts that we need to pay attention to.
As with any food source, making sure we’re purchasing from reputable sources that use sustainable practices in their harvest of Brazil nuts should be a top priority.
Majority of Brazil nuts are harvested from the wild, with only a small portion of the exports coming from plantations. So most of the Brazil nuts we find on the market are grown in the wild.
Another caveat with purchasing Brazil nuts is to pick the ones in shell over the shelled ones. Due to the high fat content of these nuts, they can go rancid quickly once exposed to the air.
Shelled Brazil nuts are usually bagged after being shelled. But no one really knows how long they’ve been sitting in the bag before purchase.
I personally used to buy shelled Brazil nuts, so I understand the convenience side of this. Not having to crack open your own nuts does save a bit of time. But the convenience is definitely not worth the quality we’re trading.
If you do decide to go with shelled Brazil nuts, look for the following signs of rancidity and pick ones with the least amount and severity of these signs:
- Darker shades of orange or tan color
- Shriveled or wrinkle exterior
- Soft to the touch and easily indented
- Odor (by far the most tell-tale sign of rancidity)
Recently shelled Brazil nuts should have no odor. They’re crunchy and breaks into pieces when crushed. Any signs of wrinkling or discoloration from the typical white and light tan color are signs of rancidity.
I’ve switched over to Brazil nuts in the shell over 6 months ago. They last much longer since they aren’t expose to the air until they’re shelled right before eating.
This bring me to the next point of storing these nuts properly.
While some suggest to never buy Brazil nuts in bulk due to the short lifespan, I found no problems with freshness as long as you do this one thing: freeze them.
I buy the Brazil Nuts (In Shell) – 25 pound case. The one I got 6 months ago just about ran out, and out of the hundreds of nuts my family and I have had since, less than a handful were rancid or not fit for consumption.
You’d need some space in your freezer if you were to go this route. My trusty chest freezer takes care of that.
I only take out the amount I’m going to eat each time. I crack the shell open right away and the kernels are gone within 3 minutes.
Since I’m eating these nuts right out from the freezer, they’re obviously very cold. But they’re also very hard, which makes it much easier to crack open from my experience.
And the kernels are extra crunchy since they’re semi-frozen. But they never get to the point of freezer-burn. If that happens to you, try a lighter setting for your freezer.
As far as daily amounts, I eat around 5 to 6 normal sized kernels each day. This gives me plenty of not just the awesome Selenium, but the rest of the micronutrients as well.
I personally eat them whole. Others break them up and sprinkle them on salads, soups, smoothies, etc. However, you choose to prepare it, just keep it in its raw form. i.e., don’t cook them! The fats will oxidize and a lot of the nutrients are lost this way.
You may have also seen Brazil nut oil before. It can be used for cooking but also massage and other therapeutic purposes. It carries the same benefits ad Brazil nuts, but why only have the oil when we can have the actual nut as well?
The Best Source of Brazil Nuts
After months of searching around both locally and online, the best source of Brazil nuts I’ve came across is at Nuts.com. This store not only have great prices for Brazil nuts and a whole bunch of other awesome foods, they can ship to you anywhere in the world.
I’ve tried the store-bought in shelled nuts and they don’t even compare to the ones I’m getting now, both in terms of quality and taste.
So go ahead and give them a try. No need to commit to the Brazil Nuts (In Shell) – 25 pound case that I buy, try out the Brazil Nuts (In Shell) – 5 pound bag or even the Brazil Nuts (In Shell) – 1 pound bag as a starter!