The Bertholletia excelsa, or Brazil nut, the tree is native to South America. They’re high in beneficial fats, protein, fiber, and selenium. Despite its name, the Brazil nut is technically a seed, not a nut. According to the definition, nuts are hard-shelled fruits with a single large seed. Pistachios and walnuts are two examples. Brazil nuts may provide unexpected and powerful nutritional benefits, such as improved heart health, antioxidants, and brain function.
The Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is a large nut high in good fats and micronutrients. Most Brazil nuts in the United States are imported from Bolivia, despite the name. If you’ve never tried Brazil nuts before, here are some interesting facts to persuade you to do so.
Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts
What are Exactly Brazil Nuts?
The Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is a South American tree belonging to the Lecythidaceae family and the name given to the tree’s commercially harvested edible seeds. It is one of the Amazon rainforest’s largest and longest-lived trees. The fruit and its nutshell, which contain the edible Brazil nut, are quite large, weighing up to 2 kg (4 lb 7 oz) in total. Brazil nuts are known for their diverse micronutrient content, particularly their high selenium content. The Brazilian nut tree’s wood is prized for its durability in carpentry, flooring, and heavy construction.
What are the Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts?
Here are the health benefits of brazil nuts:
Aids Diabetes Management
Brazil nuts’ unsaturated fat content protects against the progression of diabetes. A meta-analysis of 102 randomized controlled trials discovered that substituting polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats for carbohydrates and saturated fats lowers hemoglobin A1c levels (a key indicator of glycemic control). Brazil nuts are a healthy alternative to high-fat meats and cheeses and sugary baked goods for satisfying hunger between meals.
Promotes Heart Health
Higher selenium levels in the blood are linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. According to a recent study, plasma selenium levels rise three hours after eating Brazil nuts, and this effect can last as long as 24 hours. Furthermore, serum LDL levels decreased while HDL levels increased nine hours after eating Brazil nuts. Tree nuts have been shown to have several heart-health benefits in general. According to this study, Brazil nuts may be especially beneficial to the heart.
Just over 1 milligram of zinc is found in an ounce of Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts can easily meet 10% of the daily requirement for the average adult, which is 8–11 milligrams. Zinc deficiency impairs the immune system because zinc is required for T-lymphocyte activation, and zinc deficiency is linked to an increased risk of pneumonia and other infections. Brazil nuts are a good source of zinc for vegetarians who don’t get their zinc from animal products.
Supports Thyroid Function
Selenium is concentrated in the thyroid gland, which aids in hormone production. Despite an iodine deficiency, studies have shown that serum selenium reduces the risk of goiters in women. Other research suggests that selenium may help slow the progression of thyroid disease and improve the overall quality of life. While there are no official supplementation recommendations, eating Brazil nuts can help keep selenium levels in check.
Maintains Strong Bones
Brazil nuts are high in magnesium, an important mineral for bone density and calcium. Brazil nuts contain 105 milligrams of magnesium per serving, which equates to 25–33 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for most adults. Magnesium plays a role in bone formation and bone-regulating cell behavior. Higher magnesium intake has been linked to higher bone mineral density in men’s and women’s studies.
Although selenium in Brazil nuts is beneficial when consumed in moderation, a single serving can easily exceed the tolerable upper intake level of 400 micrograms. Toxicity is more common in dietary supplements than in food, but regular consumption of Brazil nuts may also cause these side effects. Brittle hair and nails and neurological symptoms, respiratory distress, kidney failure, and tremors are all signs of too much selenium.
How to Eat Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts can be eaten whole or added to other foods as a snack. Brazil nuts can be consumed raw or roasted.
To cook Brazil nuts on the stovetop:
- Place a layer of Brazil nuts in a skillet over medium heat.
- Stir the nuts every minute or so to avoid burning them.
- Continue cooking for about 5 to 10 minutes until the nuts become aromatic.
To roast Brazil nuts in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the nuts on a layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast for 5 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet and stir the nuts.
- Return the baking sheet to the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the nuts from the oven and season them with salt, herbs, or spices.
- Allow the nuts to cool completely before eating them.
People can try adding Brazil nuts to pad Thai dishes, trail mixes, or pesto. Alternatively, they can use chopped Brazil nuts as a nutritious topping for oatmeal, salads, or brownies.
Can you Eat too Many Brazil Nuts?
More isn’t always better when it comes to Brazil nuts. To avoid negative side effects, people should limit their consumption of Brazil nuts to a few per day. Brazil nuts are high in calories and can cause selenium toxicity if consumed in excess. Brazil nuts, like most nuts, are high in calories. People who consume too many Brazil nuts risk exceeding their daily calorie requirements. Overeating calories can lead to unwanted weight gain. Brazil nuts are a type of tree nut that can cause allergic reactions in some people. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 25 to 40% of people with a peanut allergy also react to at least one type of tree nut.
What are the Culinary Uses of Brazil Nuts?
Using larger sheller (cracker) machines, raw nuts are cut open from processing units using larger sheller (cracker) machines. For domestic purposes, small size nutcracker machines or handheld pliers are sufficient.
Here are some serving tips:
- Brazil nuts can be eaten all alone. Additionally, they can also be enjoyed roasted, salted, or sweetened.
- They are also employed in fudge, puddings, pesto, chocolate bar, and crunchy bar preparations.
- Coarsely ground brazil nuts sprinkled over fruit/vegetable salads.
- They are also used in desserts, particularly in fruitcakes.
- Add them to the soup as well as meat and vegetable dishes.
- Brazil nut oil is used in salad dressing and cooking.
Selection and Storage
Brazil nuts are raw (unshelled or shelled), roasted, and salted in stores. Because the nuts contain a lot of polyunsaturated fats, they can go rancid and deteriorate quickly if exposed to air, humidity, or sunlight for an extended period. To enjoy their meaty kernel, it is recommended to buy unshelled nuts and shell them as needed.
Purchase whole brown nuts that are full, compact, and heavy in hand. Avoid shriveled and damaged ones, as they could be infected with fungus.
Unshelled brazil nuts keep in a cool, dry place for a few months. Refrigerate them in air-seal bags if you plan on using them for a long time. This procedure will keep them from becoming rancid.
Brazil nuts have a lot of health benefits, but they should be consumed in moderation. Certain compounds in Brazil nuts, according to scientific studies, may benefit health in a variety of ways, including lowering the risk of heart disease, regulating blood sugar levels, and boosting the body’s antioxidant system. Natural selenium, an essential mineral known for its antioxidant properties, is abundant in Brazil nuts. Although selenium is beneficial to health, too much of it can cause selenium toxicity.
Raw or roasted, Brazil nuts are delicious, and they have a texture that many people compare to coconut, Brazil nuts can be roasted on the stovetop or in the oven. Brazil nuts should be avoided by people who are allergic to nuts. Large amounts of Brazil nuts can cause nervousness and, in some cases, paralysis. Consumption of these nuts in moderation is critical.