Brazil nut is an extremely delicious nut. Loaded with several benefits for the skin, hair and health, these nuts provide high amounts of beneficial nutrients that are required by the body to function properly.
Botanically, Brazil nut belongs to the Lecythidaceae family and is known as Bertholletia excelsa. Brazil nuts are also known as para-nut, castania and chestnuts of Brazil.
Brazil nuts are native to South America, found mainly in the Amazon forest. They are also found abundantly in Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. The nut is encased in a thick, brown shell. The kernel features a buttery nut with brown skin that peels off easily. The nuts are smooth in texture and have a sweet and earthy flavor. Brazil nut is a staple diet of the natives residing in the Amazon forest.
Brazil Nuts Benefits for Skin:
The minerals and vitamins present in Brazil nuts can be very beneficial for treating a number of skin-related problems. Some of the benefits of Brazil nuts for the skin include:
1. Glowing skin:
Selenium in Brazil nuts speeds the cell turnover process, providing a natural glow to the skin. The high levels of antioxidants in Brazil nuts stimulate the production of glutathione, which combats free radicals that damage the skin collagen. The Vitamin E in Brazil nuts also maintains the integrity of the cells of the mucus membranes and the skin.
2. Skin cancer:
The Vitamin E and selenium present in Brazil nuts help to prevent skin cancer. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage. A deficiency in selenium can cause basal and squamous skin cancer. Brazil nuts also contain copper, a mineral that aids in the production of melanin. Melanin is a color pigment that protects the body from the harmful ultraviolet rays. Consume a handful of Brazil nuts every day to protect yourself from skin cancer.
The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of Brazil nuts can be useful for treating acne and skin inflammation. Zinc in this nut reduces skin redness and promotes the production of collagen. It flushes out the toxins from the body, preventing the onset of acne.
Brazil nuts contain Vitamin A and E that increase the production of collagen, giving you smooth and firm skin. Apply the oil before going to bed to add a healthy shine to your complexion.
5. Skin Dryness:
Brazil nuts are very useful for alleviating skin dryness. It contains nutrients like zinc, Vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids that treat skin dryness and flakiness, preventing eczema and psoriasis. The oil extracted from Brazil nuts can also be used to treat skin dryness and minor infections. The emollient properties of Brazil nut oil keep the skin well-hydrated and moisturized. Apply a few drops of Brazil nut oil on the feet to treat itchiness, cracked heels and tightness.
Brazil nuts act as a wonderful natural exfoliant. Take half a cup of Brazil nuts and grind them in a processor to make a fine powder. Combine the powder with mashed avocado and eggs to make a smooth paste. Rub the paste gently on your wet face and leave it for 15 minutes. Rinse it off with cold water and pat dry. The paste will provide the right abrasiveness without damaging the fragile areas of the skin. It will exfoliate the skin gently, removing the dead cells, while avocado and egg will make the skin smooth and supple.
Brazil Nuts Benefits for Hair:
7. Hair growth:
Lack of essential nutrients in the body can cause hair fall or stunted hair growth. Brazil nuts contain selenium, an important trace mineral that is extremely vital for the health of the hair. A deficiency in selenium, can often lead to excessive hair fall. Regular consumption of Brazil nuts can improve hair growth and health.
8. Shiny hair:
Brazil nuts are the easiest and least expensive treatment to make the hair healthy and shiny. It contains high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which stimulate the production of sebum in the scalp, conditioning the hair naturally. Brazil nut oil is also used in shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments. Eat a handful of Brazil nuts daily to notice a major improvement in the quality of your hair.
9. Healthy hair:
Brazil nut is an excellent source of l-arginine, an amino acid that is mainly used topically to reverse male baldness. It encourages the growth of healthy hair. This amino acid also improves the health of the artery walls, making them less prone to blood clots. Our scalp requires a strong flow of blood for proper hair growth.
10. Prevent hair breakage:
Brazil nuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, a healthy form of fatty acid that makes the strands healthy. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, one of the most important nutrients required for improving the appearance of the hair. A deficiency in this nutrient can make the hair brittle and prone to breakage.
Health Benefits Of Brazil Nuts:
Like other nuts, Brazil nuts are known for their amazing taste and a plethora of health benefits. Some of the brazil nuts health benefits include:
11. Regulates the thyroid hormone:
Brazil nuts contain an active enzyme called “triodothyronine” which helps to produce the active thyroid hormone. Eat a handful of Brazil nuts every day to get your daily dose of selenium.
12. Excellent source of selenium:
Most of the health benefits of Brazil nuts can be attributed to its high selenium content. Our body cannot produce selenium on its own. It is important to consume it through foods to prevent its deficiency. Selenium is an essential component required for producing two antioxidant enzymes- glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase. It also helps to increase the Vitamin E function in the body.
13. Neutralizes free radical damage:
Selenium encourages the production of glutathione, the most important antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. Free radicals can oxidize in the body, damaging the cells and tissues. Selenium neutralizes the free radicals, while providing protection from a number of health conditions like heart diseases and cancer.
14. Weight management:
Brazil nut assists in weight management. It contains high amounts of protein and fiber that control hunger, thereby reducing weight. Eating a small serving of Brazil nuts keeps you full for a longer time, reducing the likelihood of snacking in between.
15. Cardiovascular health:
Brazil nuts contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids that help to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acid. This is beneficial for lowering the bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol in the blood. It favors the blood lipid profile, preventing coronary artery diseases and stroke. Selenium in Brazil nuts also prevents the clotting of blood.
16. Zinc deficiency:
Brazil nuts are very beneficial for treating Acrodermatitis enteropathica, a rare inherited disorder. The disorder occurs when the body fails to absorb sufficient amounts of zinc, leading to its deficiency. Brazil nut contains high levels of zinc, which can help to combat Acrodermatitis enteropathica.
17. Immune system:
Those who catch a cold easily can benefit greatly from Brazil nuts. It contains a plethora of nutrients that boost the immune system, fighting off cold and flu. It also provides ample energy to carry out the day-to-day activities.
18. Complete Protein:
Brazil nuts are considered as complete protein, making them an excellent addition to the vegetarian diet. They provide all the essential amino acids needed for muscle and tissue repair. It contains methionine, an important amino acid that protects us from chronic diseases. It also helps to fend off the signs and symptoms of ageing.
19. Muscle Function:
Brazil nuts are a nutrient-dense food. It contains magnesium, a mineral required for the functioning of the muscles. It prevents the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, preventing soreness and muscular pain. Magnesium is catalytic in nature, which helps to break down the protein into simpler amino acids. It helps in the digestion and absorption of protein in the body.
20. Skeletal System:
Brazil nuts contain copper, a mineral vital for the skeletal system. Copper is required for the formation of bone tissues. It also helps in the formation of the connective tissues. It aids the absorption of iron into the blood stream. In addition to the skeletal system, Brazil nuts also strengthen the bones by improving bone mineral density.
21. Lowers Cancer Risks:
The nutrients present in Brazil nuts reduce the risk of several types of cancer like prostate, colon, breast and lung cancer. Brazil nut facilitates the production of glutathione, an enzyme that fights cancer.
22. Male Fertility:
The antioxidants present in Brazil nuts protect the semen from free radical damage. It improves sperm mobility and reduces infertility. It also increases natural testosterone levels in the body.
23. Mental health:
Thiamin in Brazil nuts keeps the nervous system healthy. It is vital for easing mind-related problems like stress, migraine and memory loss. It also helps to quell depression and anxiety. Regular consumption of Brazil nuts may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Nutritional Value of Brazil Nuts:
Brazil nuts are high in calories, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These creamy nuts are an excellent source of B complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate and pyridoxine. It contains minerals like manganese, selenium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. The nuts contain almost 8 grams of Vitamin E per 100 grams serving. A serving of Brazil nuts provides 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. A hundred grams serving provides 650 calories. A single kernel provides 100% of the daily recommended value of selenium. The nutritional value of brazil nuts is as follows:
|Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||66.43 g||221%|
|Dietary Fiber||7.5 g||20%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.184 mg||3.5%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||0.7 mcg||1%|
|Vitamin E-gamma||7.87 mg||52%|
How to select and store Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts are available all year round in raw, roasted and salted forms. Purchase unshelled Brazil nuts to protect them from deterioration. Avoid purchasing discolored or shriveled nuts and those that have a musty odor. The odor indicates that the nuts might be affected by fungal mold.
The shelf life of the nuts depends entirely on how you store them. They last for 4 to 6 weeks if stored in a cool and dry place. Refrigerate the nuts to prolong their shelf life. Refrigerated Brazil nuts last for almost 9 months. Brazil nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats that might turn rancid if exposed to air, humidity and sunlight. Store the jar away from moisture and direct sunlight.
Uses of Brazil Nuts:
There are several ways to enjoy this creamy and nutritious nut. Brazil nuts in their natural form are the safest and healthiest to consume. Carry a small packet of nuts in your bag for a quick on-the-go snack. Mix it with walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios for a nutritious treat. Brazil nuts are gluten free. They are perfect for people with wheat food allergy and celiac diseases.
Brazil nuts have a rich and creamy flavor, which makes it a delicious addition to an assortment of dishes. They are used in puddings, fudge, cakes and granola bars. Coarsely ground Brazil nuts are used in the preparation of soups and curries. Ground Brazil nuts are also sprinkled on desserts, fruitcakes and salads.
In addition, the nuts are also pressed to yield oil. It is widely used in medicinal applications and aromatherapy massages. The oil is also used for cooking purposes.
- Consumption of more than the required amount of selenium can cause fatigue and stomach upset. An overdose of selenium can also cause brittle nails and hair fall.
- Avoid purchasing salted Brazil nuts as salt contains high levels of sodium, which can cause hypertension.
- Brazil nuts have been found to contain high amounts of aflatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic. The nuts are also known to contain radioactive radium.
- People allergic to nuts should refrain from consuming Brazil nuts. Consuming large quantities of Brazil nuts may cause nervousness and can even lead to paralysis in some cases. It is very essential to consume these nuts in moderation.
Considering all the benefits of Brazil nuts, we can safely include a few of them in our diet to improve our overall health and well-being. However, excess consumption should be avoided.