Healthy Foods
Eat Brazil nuts . . . but not too many!

By: Leanne Ely

Brazil nuts grow on trees in many parts of the Amazon, not just in Brazil as the name of this nut might suggest. Brazil nuts are much larger than hazelnuts and almonds, and they are chock full of nutrients. In fact, a one-ounce serving of Brazil nuts provides 4% of your daily recommended dose of iron and 5% of your daily dose of calcium.

Brazil nuts contain many other health benefits, including:

Good fats. Like most nuts, Brazil nuts contain beneficial fats. Our bodies need fat, and we should get that fat from sources like fish, avocados and nuts.

Protein. Nuts are known for being a good source of protein and Brazil nuts are no exception. Brazil nuts give us all those essential amino acids required by our bodies for muscle tissue repair and overall growth and development.

Methionine. Brazil nuts contain rather high levels of an amino acid by the name of methionine. This little guy wards off chronic illness and signs of aging. Bring on the methionine!

Thiamin, magnesium and phosphorus (oh my!). The nervous system of the human body requires thiamin in order to be healthy. Thiamin is also essential in energy metabolism. Brazil nuts are high in this mineral and a couple of others that are pretty important: phosphorus and magnesium. Brazil nuts provide lots of trace minerals, too, including copper, calcium, zinc, iron and selenium.

Selenium. Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium. Period. One Brazil nut provides you with all of the selenium you need for the day. As many of you know, I have Hashimotos, an autoimmune thyroid disease and I eat one Brazil nut every day to help me out with that. There’s anywhere from 50mcg to 90mcg of selenium in each nut. Selenium boosts antioxidant activity and is believed to prevent cancer and lower your risk of joint inflammation. To give you an idea of just how rich these nuts are in selenium, 3 ounces of the next food on the “good sources of selenium list”—tuna—contains 68 mcg.

Now, please stick to one Brazil nut per day and DO NOT go filling up on them. They contain so much selenium that eating too many can lead to poisoning, for lack of a better word. If you overdose on selenium (ingest more than 1000 mcg of the mineral in one day . . . which is only 11-12 nuts believe it or not!), you will probably get very nauseated and you’ll start vomiting. Your fingernails and hair may also start turning brittle and flaking/falling off.

Don’t quote me, but I’m pretty sure Brazil nut toxicity was actually a diagnosis once on that medical drama, House.

Don’t let this selenium information stop you from eating them though. It’s an important mineral and Brazil nuts are a great way to get in a lot with a few calories. Just don’t overdo it!