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.
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.
Health benefits of Brazil nuts
- Brazil nuts are high in calories, contain good quantities of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. Its kernels, in-fact, have been staple energy sources of native Amazonians even today.
- 100 g of brazil nuts provide about 656 calories. Their high caloric content chiefly comes from their fats. However, much of this fat content is mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like palmitoleic acid (16: 1) and oleic acid (18: 1) that helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and increase HDL or “good” cholesterol levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids offers protection from coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
- The nuts are also a very good source of vitamin-E; contain about 7.87 mg per 100 g (about 52% of RDA). Vitamin-E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. It is required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
- Brazil nuts hold exceptionally high levels of selenium. 100 g nuts provide about 1917 µg or 3485% recommended daily intake of selenium, rating them as the highest natural source of this mineral. Selenium is an important cofactor for anti-oxidant enzyme, glutathione-peroxidase. Just 1-2 nuts a day provides enough of this trace element. Adequate selenium in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers.
- Furthermore, just as in almonds and pine nuts, brazil nuts too are free from gluten protein. The nuts, therefore, are one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. These formula preparations are, in-fact, healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergy and celiac disease.
- Additionally, these creamy nuts are an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin (51% of RDA per 100 g), riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and folates. Altogether, these vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism inside the body.
- In addition to selenium, they hold very good levels of other minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Copper helps prevent anemia and bone weakness (osteoporosis). Manganese is an all-important co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
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.