If you’re searching for a snack with numerous health benefits and culinary uses, then look no further than the Amazon forest. Like the acai berry, the Brazil nut, or as people often refer to it as the cream nut, is specific to the Amazon rainforest.
Amazonians cherish these treasure nuts and have for decades. The nuts provide fats, proteins, and other nutrients. These same nutrients contribute to countless health benefits such as improving heart disease, decreasing anxiety, and many more.
It’s clear to see that Brazil nuts have a good reason to be so loved by people far and wide. However, in recent years production has slowed and it is now illegal to cut down the trees they grow on. Therefore, we could see an increase in their prices soon.
What Are Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts are a tasty, nutrient-dense type of nuts that grow on trees in South America. The tree grows around rivers and other areas of dampness in countries including Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Columbia. Some people refer to them as cream nuts for their creamy, butter-like appearance when you crack them open. The scientific name for Brazil nuts is Bertholletia Excelsa.
They are harvested and sent to places all over the world for consumers to enjoy their delicious taste and numerous benefits. The tree can grow up to 160 feet tall and have a trunk size of three to six feet in diameter. So, when they harvest Brazil nuts, it’s a large quantity from one tree.
In recent years, production of this delicious delicacy has dropped significantly. That’s because it is now illegal to cut down the trees. The trees produce fruit exclusive to the forest that remains undisturbed.
So, they consider the plants to be fragile. As production decreases, the cost of the nuts will most likely see a substantial price increase.
10 Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts aren’t just tasty snacks; they also have countless benefits in store for us. Look below at only ten of them.
- A top source of selenium:
Selenium is an essential and vital mineral for the body that that is strong in antioxidants, soothes inflammation, fights free radicals, and in turn boost the overall health of the body. Brazil nuts are the number one source of this mighty mineral. One ounce or six kernels provides a serving of 774 % DV. Around one billion people suffer from a selenium deficiency worldwide. That means that brazil nuts are one of their top dietary choices.
- Improve heart health
Brazil nuts are incredibly high in unsaturated fats known as HDL, good cholesterol, or Omega-3 fatty acids. Whatever you want to call them, their presence in Brazil nuts allows them to regulate cholesterol and to improve heart health.
The high levels of selenium and ellagic acid in Brazil nuts make it a food source that battles inflammation. Ellagic acid has high neuroprotective properties, and the zinc found in the nuts helps flush out toxins from the body while also reducing inflammation. Check out 5 quick Anti-inflammatory recipes.
- Fights cancer
The high quantity of antioxidants found in these nuts aids in the prevention of various chronic illnesses including cancer and coronary heart disease. The presence of selenium enables glutathione which is an enzymatic antioxidant that destroys cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
- Lifts mood
If your selenium levels are low, you most likely experience stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Consuming food products that contain nuts also boost serotonin levels in the brain. We call that neurological chemical the feel-good chemical, and it controls mood, sleeps, and appetite. Incorporating Brazil nuts into your regular diet can alleviate the symptoms associated with selenium deficiency such as depression, stress, moodiness, and fatigue.
- Thyroid gland regulation
Selenium also plays a vital role in regulating your thyroid gland. So, if you are experiencing thyroid issues try eating Brazil nuts to get your thyroid back to proper functioning.
- Skin Care
The content of vitamins and nutrients in Brazil nuts make it an excellent food for improving your skin’s overall health. It has natural anti-aging properties and can reduce the look of wrinkles and the chances of skin cancer. The oils from the nut are also an excellent way to treat eczema and psoriasis.
- Protection from UV radiation
Brazil nuts contain copper which helps produce melanin, a color pigment in the skin that protects it from UV (ultraviolet) rays. Therefore, it also reduces the chance of skin cancer.
- Boost immune system
The combination of organic compounds and antioxidants in Brazil nuts make them one of the most potent immune-boosting nuts. Also, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc stimulate white blood cell count and eliminate cancer-causing free radicals.
An amino acid in the nut called L-arginine is used to primarily treat baldness in men or alopecia because of its encouraging growth of thick hair. The combination of vitamin E, omega-3’s, and selenium also make hair shiny, durable, and healthy.
Different Ways to Use Brazil Nuts
Like there are many benefits to Brazil nuts, there are also many uses for them too. Naturally, you can eat them because they are nuts. There are many ways you can incorporate them into your diet in delicious ways.
- Snack: You can eat Brazil nuts as they come, or you can eat them in snack bars.
- Milk: You won’t want to drink that almond milk after getting a taste for Brazil nut milk. Making it yourself is a process, but the rich and creamy reward is worth the trouble.
- Cheese: If you’re a vegan (or you want to try it) give Brazil nut cheese a taste testing. While cashews are usually the main ingredient in vegan cheeses, Brazil nuts are just as versatile and make some of the creamiest non-dairy cheese you’ll ever try.
- Dessert: It doesn’t always have to be a rare indulgence. When you’re making a cheesecake, pie crust, pies or cakes; these nuts make the perfect ingredients due to their creamy, creamy texture. They’re easy to dissolve into the mixture, and it acts as a binding agent to give your dessert a slight crunch.
- Salads: These nuts make the perfect addition to salads because they are incredibly versatile. They provide an excellent source of flavor and mineral composition especially if you’re on a vegan diet.
Shelled Brazil nuts must be eaten or used quickly due to the high-fat content that makes them go bad fast.
In addition to eating these delectable nuts, you can also use them to make oils. Once extracted, the oils will last for months, and you can use them for various types of things including aromatherapy, medicinal applications, and cooking purposes.
Brazil Nut Recipes
These mighty little nuts pack a mean punch when it comes to all the benefits they have in store for our health. Why wouldn’t we want to integrate them into our everyday diets? Below are a few recipes that call for Brazil nuts that you’ll be sure to fall in love with repeatedly.
- Brazil Nut Vegan Parmesan: If cheese packed full of vitamins and trace minerals gets your taste buds going then this vegan parmesan cheese is what you need to try. It’s a delicious, healthy alternative to dairy made parmesan, and it’s an excellent topping for salad, pasta, and more. Check out the recipe and enjoy all the cheesiness it has to offer.
- Vegan Double Chocolate Cake: This is probably the healthiest chocolate cake you’ll ever try. It’s vegan, raw, and gluten-free. The recipe has some ingredients you would have never thought about going in a chocolate cake. One of those being Brazil nuts.
- Crunchy Asian Black Rice Salad: Not only does this salad taste good, but it smells fantastic too. It’s also packed full of antioxidants from all black rice, fruits vegetables and nut combination that includes Brazil nuts. Check out the recipe to see what goes into making this salad so genuinely satisfying.
Is there any Side Effects of Brazil Nuts?
Like with most everything, there are side effects to eating Brazil nuts. Of course, if you have a nut allergy, you should avoid eating them (sorry). Here are some things to watch out for if you incorporate these nuts into your regular diet.
- Weight Gain: Due to their high-fat content, Brazil nuts are high in calories and can cause the number on the scale to increase if you overeat of them.
- Selenium Overdose: Excessive amounts of selenium can cause fatigue, hair loss, and upset stomach.
- Heart Issues: Brazil nuts have a high concentration of saturated fats and calories. Too much consumption of these tasty nuts can reverse the benefits of heart health.
- Aflatoxins: Raw Brazil nuts can contain carcinogenic aflatoxins (1).
Brazil nuts are packed with powerful ingredients to bring us all these remarkable health benefits. Nestled deep in the Amazon rainforest in South America lies a nut that can improve the health of humankind. Unless you’re allergic to the nut family, give them a try to see if you enjoy the rich, creamy, buttery flavor.
Dietitian with around 5 years of experience in assessing the nutritional needs of patients, counselling individuals, communicating the appropriate nutritional information to other members of the health care team and implementing nutritional care plans by following all the standards.