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Lots of Health Benefits Packed into one Nut

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

August 4, 2020

Native to South America, the Brazil nut tree can be found along the Amazon River in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

Brazil nuts are low in carbohydrates and have some protein. They are rich in healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) vitamins (vitamin B1, B3, B6, vitamin E), minerals (selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and copper), as well as several phytochemicals (ellagic acid, phenolic compounds, among others).

Brazil nuts are the best plant source of Selenium. Selenium is a mineral that plays a key role in the body’s antioxidant capacity, immune system, inflammation, and thyroid function. Selenium content in Brazil nuts may vary according to their origin, but in general, one single Brazil nut provides 160% of the US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of selenium.

7 health benefits of selenium & Brazil nuts

  1.   Studies have found that ellagic acid from Brazil nuts has an anti-inflammatory effect that could provide protective benefits for the brain.
  2.   Selenium from Brazil nuts may also boost your mood and decrease symptoms in mood-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  3. The uptick in selenium has also shown to improve mental performance in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.
  4.   Selenium is required for sperm motility and may reduce the risk of miscarriage.
  5.   Due to its antioxidant properties Brazil, nuts may reduce inflammation and the risk of buildup of plaque on artery walls.
  6.   Adequate selenium levels were linked with lower risks of certain cancers such as esophageal and stomach cancer.
  7. Low selenium levels have been linked to higher rates of thyroid cancer and thyroid disorders. The selenium found in Brazil nuts can help combat Thyroid cancer and improve thyroid function.

Fun Facts

  • Brazil nuts grow on the largest tree in the Amazon forest. They can grow up to 160 feet tall, has a tree trunk diameter of 3 feet to as large as 6 ½ feet, and can live 500 to 1000 years.
  • Purchased Brazil nuts generally come from undisturbed wild trees rather than cultivated ones, as there are very few Brazil nut plantations and they generally have a low production rate compared to wild trees.

The recipe of the week comes via The Open Road Kitchen

Cast iron Brussels sprouts with Brazil nuts


10 to 12 large Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tsp vegetable oil

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper

¼ cup white wine

½ cup Brazil nuts, roughly chopped


  1.   In a 10- to-12-inch cast iron skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2.   Place the Brussels sprouts flat-side down into the oil and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  3.   Flip the Brussels sprouts and season with salt and black pepper. Cook 3 minutes (undisturbed) then add the white wine and cook (undisturbed) an additional 2 to 3 minutes (or until the wine is completely dissolved).
  4.   Stir in the Brazil nuts and cook 2 minutes, stirring often.

Note: Resist the urge to stir the Brussels sprouts while cooking.


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