Brazil nuts are one of the superfoods and popular for their delicious flavor. These edible seeds come from Brazil nut tree or Bertholletia excelsa.

The South American tree belongs to Ericales family and is a neighbor of blueberries, lianas,  cranberries, and other herbaceous plants. Brazilian nut trees grow over 200 feet tall and abound in Amazon forest. It is one of the important no-timber products coming out of Amazon. [1]

One tree can produce more than 250 pounds of nuts in a year. Each of the nuts weighs about 5 pound and is similar to coconut. The interior of this Amazonian nut has orange segments with 12-20 seeds. Brazilian nut has an annual economic worth of 50 million dollars worldwide. [1]

All kinds of nuts are important for human health due to their high nutritional value.

According to nutritionists, Brazilian nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium supplementation. Selenium is a vital mineral that has numerous beneficial functions for health.

Brazil nuts are rich in other essential vitamins and minerals as well. [2]

This article reviews the nutritional profile and therapeutic benefits of Brazilian nuts.

Brazilian Nuts Nutrition Facts

Brazil nut has an impressive combination of vital micronutrients — vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. [2]

The bioactive constituents have numerous health benefits for the prevention of diseases, and overall growth of the body.

Brazil nuts are a rich source of calories, calcium, carbohydrates, protein, monounsaturated fat, and dietary fiber. Regular consumption of this Amazonian nuts can supplement for essential minerals such as selenium, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and iron. The nuts also have good amount of riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. [2]

5 Brazil Nuts Health Benefits Based on Evidence

1. Brazil Nuts are Good for Heart Health.

Numerous research studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of Brazil nuts in lowering the risks of cardiovascular or heart diseases.

The Amazonian nuts are a potent source of monounsaturated fats, phytosterols, antioxidants,  and soluble dietary fiber.

The combined effects of these constituents are beneficial for lipid profile or blood sugar level, inflammation, and blood pressure.

A 2015 clinical study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigated the positive effects of tree nuts for cardiovascular health.

In the study 35 healthy individuals took a dose of 5 Brazil nuts for a period of 8 weeks. The monounsaturated fat in the nuts and its other micronutrients proved to be effective in lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol HDL (high-density lipoprotein). [3]

Brazil Nuts Benefits for Heart Health

The researchers conclude that consumption of Brazil nuts may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

In another clinical study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2013; the effects of a single serving of 20 or 50 g of Brazil nuts was tested in the lipid profile of 15 healthy volunteers. [4]

The study revealed that the antioxidant Selenoproteins in Brazil nuts plus its high monounsaturated fat (50%) had significant cardioprotective effects in the volunteers. The consumption of the nuts could lower their LDL and increase HDL or good cholesterol level.

2. Brazil Nut Has Anti-Cancer Effects.

Several clinical studies confirm that the consumption of selenium-rich Brazil nut is effective for cancer prevention.

In a 1994 clinical research among mammary cancer affected rats, 1-3 micrograms of Brazil nut supplementation in food showed significant anti-cancer activity. (Nutrition and Cancer)

The researchers attribute the cancer prevention effects of the Brazil nuts to its high selenium content. [5]

The British Journal of Nutrition reports another clinical study in 2016, wherein the efficacy of green tea and Brazil nut extracts were tested for their anti-cancer activity.

The study was conducted among 32 patients and Brazil nut and green tea extracts in capsule form showed significant effects in minimizing colorectal cancer risks. [6]

3. Brazil Nuts are Good for the Brain.

Tree nuts are foods for the brain. Nutritionists suggest that regular consumption of nuts, at least 2 servings in a week is beneficial for optimum cognitive function and memory.

brazil nuts benefits for brain health

Brazil nuts are filled with essential nutrients for a healthy brain. One of the key antioxidant compound of Brazil nuts is ellagic acid.

A 2016 study published in the Neurochemical Research, states that ellagic acid may prevent the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.  [7]

4. Brazil Nuts for Thyroid Health.

Thyroid gland and the hormone it secretes are important for some vital works in the body such as controlling the heart rate, body temperature, and the metabolism.

Researchers suggest that deficiency of selenium in the diet may result in thyroid diseases.

Selenium component in food is important for the production of thyroid hormone as well. A Brazilian research published in the journal Nutricion Hospitalaria in 2015 reports the positive effects of selenium rich Brazil nuts in the production of thyroid hormones in Hemodialysis patients. [8]

5. Brazil Nuts Can Improve Mood.

Brazil nuts can improve your mood, relieve stress, anxiety, and depression in a number of ways. According to a 1991 study reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry,  the dietary supplementation of Brazil nuts selenium has significant effects in relieving stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. 50 volunteers consumed 100 microgram of Brazil nuts selenium thrice in a week for 5 weeks. The result showed a positive change in the moods of the volunteers. [9]

Serotonin is the feel good hormone. A 2011 study in The Journal of Proteome Research suggests that nut consumption can increase serotonin metabolites immediately. This way Brazil nut may positively affect your mood. [10]

Brazil Nuts Side Effects and Recommended Dosage

It is safe to eat 1-6 Brazil nuts per day depending on the deficiency of selenium in your body. However overconsumption of Brazil nuts in one sitting can cause some adverse effects such as nausea, hair loss, brittle nails, cough, diarrhea, loss of taste or metallic taste in the mouth, etc. These symptoms are often called selenium toxicity.

People who are allergic to foods in the Anacardiaceae family such as cashew nuts, mango, pistachios, etc. may also experience allergic symptoms from Brazil nuts. Don’t consume the nuts if the nuts cause rashes, itchiness, vomiting, and swelling of the skin.

The large amount of polyunsaturated fats in the Brazil nuts can make them go spoiled faster. You should buy them in small batch and preserve them well in a refrigerator.

Bottom Line

The Brazil nut is one of the most nutritious tree nuts in human diet. This Amazonian nuts are superbly delicious and are a rich source of vital nutrients for the body.

Medical research confirms numerous therapeutic values of Brazil nuts — the high selenium content of the nuts plays key role in the prevention of many diseases and overall health of vital body organs.

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