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Brazil Nuts: The One Snack You Should Be Eating Every Day

Brazil Nuts: The One Snack You Should Be Eating Every Day

Recommending snacking to someone who is trying to lose weight is like handing someone a pack of smokes to someone who is trying to quit tobacco. You just don’t do it. Aside from people with certain metabolic disorders that may require frequent snacking, such as type 1 diabetes, in general, it’s best to completely avoid snacking. 

With a combination of intermittent fasting (going 14-16 in between the last bite of dinner and the first bite of breakfast), eating only one or two meals a day and avoiding snacking, you may be able to lose weight, reduce your blood sugar levels and become more sensitive to insulin. 

But if there’s one snack that you should cut some slack, it’s Brazil nuts. 

So grab a handful of these creamy, coconut-y, hearty nuts and snack away. Better yet, to get the benefits of them and also derive the benefits from going several hours in between eating, eat them as your post-lunch or dinner dessert. 


Why Are Brazil Nuts Healthy?

There are several reasons. But let’s start with the biggest benefit as it relates to contemporary times. 

The mineral, zinc, has received lots of attention because of its supportive effects on the immune system. The much less-heralded but perhaps equally important trace mineral for immune balance is selenium. And no other food on planet Earth is higher in selenium than Brazil nuts. 

In fact, eating an ounce, which yields about 7 nuts, supplies an almost whopping 1000% of the daily value of selenium. 

Why is selenium important for the immune system? Because, among other things, it stops viruses from making copies of themselves. (It prevents viral replication.) Obviously, that’s a big deal these days. 

According to a fact sheet by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, Brazil nuts are also rich in other trace minerals such as magnesium and copper, which, respectively, help muscles relax and produce red blood cells. 

In addition to immune support, perhaps the other main selenium selling point is its role in producing thyroid hormone. If you have a subpar-functioning thyroid gland, you’ll likely feel cold and lethargic. On the flip side of your body’s furnace (which is what your thyroid gland basically functions like), if you have a hyperactive thyroid, you’re more prone to hot flashes and mood irritability. 

Your thyroid gland is a storage house for selenium; it’s in the thyroid that we find the highest concentration of selenium out of anywhere else in the body. 

A few other key roles selenium plays in keeping you healthy: nerve and cellular growth regulation; supports the body’s internal antioxidants such as glutathione, and helps keep inflammation in check. 

Brazil nuts are so superlative for selenium that a research study in the Canada-based journal, Food Research International, considers this Amazonian nut as an alternative for selenium supplementation. 

 

Are selenium supplements necessary?

Speaking of which, what if you can’t stand the chewy, dense texture of Brazil nuts? Should you take a selenium supplement? 

On one hand, just like zinc, finding foods that are rich in selenium is not a problem. If you read most mainstream articles about selenium, you’ll be fed the line that selenium deficiency is rare in the U.S. Not because most Americans are nuts about Brazil nuts, but rather the typical foods most westerners eat contain adequate amounts of the trace mineral (see chart courtesy of NIH for top sources below). 

What’s not often discussed about selenium, is that due to modern industrial farming practices, including the spraying of over 90% of crop fields in the U.S. with the herbicide, glyphosate, absorbing selenium is another matter. According to the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, glyphosate strongly inhibits root growth and other processes. And it’s in the young roots of plants where mineral uptake occurs. 

An environmental journal says that glyphosate acts as a chelating agent. That means it binds to minerals. And because of this action, a plant’s ability to uptake minerals like selenium is impeded.  

Take a look at the NIH table of the best sources of selenium below. If you’re consuming these foods from organic farms, then you might not need a selenium supplement. 

The standard, recommended daily value of the trace mineral for most people is 55 mcg (micrograms) per day. Pregnant and lactating women need more. People with thyroid conditions might also require more, or less, depending on if their condition is marked by hypo- or hyperthyroidism. If you have a thyroid condition, check with a functional medicine doctor if a selenium supplement is right for you. 

 

More Reasons To Be Nuts About Brazil Nuts

Most people consume way too many polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of omega-6’s. Most health experts believe that an optimal human diet should consist of a ratio of no more than 4:1 omega-6’s to omega-3’s. However, modern American diets are typically 20:1 or more. Brazil nuts help balance out this ratio because they are rich in another type of fatty acid that you don’t hear about that often: omega-9s. Brazil nuts are rich in the omega-9 fat, oleic acid. 

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat. It’s the predominant fatty acid in olive oil, and it’s well-established that it contributes greatly to cardiovascular health. 

But that’s not all Brazil nuts offer. They’re also high in protein, and research suggests that they may help prevent liver failure as well as cognitive impairment, and problems with cholesterol metabolism. 


Conclusion

Technically, when you’re eating Brazil nuts, you’re actually eating the edible seeds from the Bertholletia excelsa tree. 

In addition to eating them raw, try grating them just like you would garlic. You can add grated Brazil nuts to low-calorie pasta, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and granola. 


Best Sources Of Brazil Nuts


Food

Microgram

(mcg) per

serving

Percent

DV*

Brazil nuts, 1 ounce (6–8 nuts)

544

989

Tuna, yellowfin, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces

92

167

Halibut, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces

47

85

Sardines, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 ounces

45

82

Ham, roasted, 3 ounces

42

76

Shrimp, canned, 3 ounces

40

73

Macaroni, enriched, cooked, 1 cup

37

67

Beef steak, bottom round, roasted, 3 ounces

33

60

Turkey, boneless, roasted, 3 ounces

31

56

Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces

28

51

Chicken, light meat, roasted, 3 ounces

22

40

Cottage cheese, 1% milkfat, 1 cup

20

36

Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked, 1 cup

19

35

Beef, ground, 25% fat, broiled, 3 ounces

18

33

Egg, hard-boiled, 1 large

15

27






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