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What Are the Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts?

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
What Are the Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts?
A bowl of Brazil nuts on a wood table. Photo Credit HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Brazil nuts come from a tree that is grown in many parts of the Amazon, not just Brazil. They are large, in comparison to other nuts, and are often included in nut mixes. Just six nuts comprise a 1 ounce serving. Brazil nuts offer many nutrients, but are dense in calories and fat.

Major Nutrients

One ounce of Brazil nuts contains 185 calories, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates. Brazil nuts provide 2 grams of fiber per 1 ounce serving, which is 8 percent of the recommended daily allowance, or RDA, as per U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. They provide 5 percent of the RDA for calcium and 4 percent for iron.

Beneficial Fats

Most of the fat found in Brazil nuts is the healthy unsaturated varieties which -- when used in lieu of saturated fat – can help to promote heart health, says the American Heart Association. Of the 19 grams of fat in 1 ounce 41 percent is monounsaturated and 34 percent is polyunsaturated. Keep in mind that Brazil nuts still contain the highest amount of saturated fat of any nut – one serving provides 21 percent of the RDA. Stick to just one serving of nuts daily to keep your daily calorie and fat intake under control.

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Selenium

One ounce of Brazil nuts provides 774 percent of the daily recommended value of selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral essential to immune and thyroid function, explains the CIDPUSA Foundation which is dedicated to helping people who suffer from autoimmune disorders. While selenium deficiency does not often occur in Western countries, it may cause anxiety disorders, asthma, depression, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and seizures.

Additional Nutritional Benefits

A 1-ounce serving of Brazil nuts contain 27 percent the RDA for magnesium which helps with the functioning of muscles, the production of protein and absorption of energy from food. They also offer 25 percent of the RDA for copper which can help the body use iron, maintain bone and connective tissue health, promote thyroid function, support the production of melanin and protect and repair tissues. With 20 percent of the RDA for phosphorous, Brazil nuts also support bone and teeth health. Brazil nuts also provide manganese, zinc, vitamin E, potassium and riboflavin.

Considerations

The high fat content of Brazil nuts means they go rancid easily. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain their freshness. Regularly eating multiple servings of Brazil nuts may cause negative health effects. The CIDPUSA Foundation notes that more than 10 times the RDA of selenium can cause brittle hair and fingernails, stimulate skin rashes, affect the nervous system, make you feel fatigued and disrupt digestion causing diarrhea.

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