Brazil nuts are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. A single nut is packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, and an impressive number of vitamins and minerals (especially selenium). But despite all these benefits, many people avoid eating Brazil nuts because they believe that their high-fat content will make them gain weight. But is this really true? In this article you will explore their nutrition facts, health benefits and side effects.
At first glance, it seems like high-calorie foods such as brazil nuts can cause the pounds to pile on. An ounce serving of these flavorful seeds contains roughly 187 calories. According to the USDA, these nuts have the following nutritional profile (10):
- Protein: 4.1 grams
- Fat: 19 grams
- Carbs: 3.3 grams
- Fiber: 2.1 grams
- Selenium: 988% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Copper: 55% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 33% of the
- Phosphorus: 30% of the RDI
- Manganese: 17% of the RDI
- Zinc: 10.5% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 16% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 11% of the RDI
However, research has proven that despite the high-calorie content, Brazil nuts can benefit people who are trying to lose weight in multiple ways.
Source Of Healthy, Satiating Fats
Rich In Selenium
This mineral may increase the activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase, which is responsible for producing key hormones (called T3 and T4) associated with metabolism and energy expenditure. The selenium in Brazil nuts also helps convert T4 into the more active form, T3, which can make it easier for your body to burn through calories at a faster rate (14).
Regulate Hunger Hormones
Brazil nuts can help regulate levels of hunger hormones that are associated with fullness, cravings, and appetite. These hunger-controlling effects of selenium could help you feel less hungry between meals, keeping you from overeating at your next meal.
Brazil nuts also contain fiber, which can help regulate hunger hormones that are linked to feelings of fullness and cravings, so you feel less hungry between meals. In one study, participants who took a fiber supplement (similar to those found in Brazil nuts) reduced their number of eating occasions and overall body weight (6).
Moderate Impact On Blood Sugar
Brazil nuts contain carbohydrates, so they could have a small impact on blood sugar levels if you eat them in large quantities. Even though they are high in carbs, these nuts only have a moderate glycemic index (GI) rating. This means that they are slowly digested and don’t cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, making it easier to maintain stable energy throughout the day (2).
If you’re diabetic, you can safely enjoy brazil nuts to control your blood sugar—as long as you monitor the total amount of carbs that you eat throughout the day. However, if you’re not diabetic and manage to lose weight while eating brazil nuts regularly, your blood sugar could remain within a healthy range for longer periods.
Improve Thyroid Function
The selenium in these nuts may also help boost thyroid function, which is associated with lower body fat percentage and metabolism (4). It can even make it easier for people who are struggling with hypothyroidism to maintain a healthy weight.
Increase Energy Levels For Workouts
Brazil nuts are nutrient-dense foods that provide you with an instant energy boost that will last for several hours. These nuts contain essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins responsible for providing you with this energy boost. Their energy-boosting properties make them the perfect pre-workout snack.
Optimal Nutrient Absorption
Zinc is another key nutrient found in Brazil nuts. This mineral helps your body absorb other nutrients, like vitamin A and iron, more effectively, which can help you stay nourished and active throughout the day (20).
Even though zinc isn’t directly associated with weight loss, it’s still associated with fat burning and muscle growth, which may make it easier to lose weight over time. Some research finds that people who eat more zinc tend to weigh less than those who don’t (21).
If you’re already eating brazil nuts as a healthy snack, you don’t have much to lose by adding a serving or two into your diet each day—especially if it means you eat less junk food throughout the day. The minerals in these nuts may improve major aspects of health and metabolism related to weight loss.
Looking for a way to break the vicious cycle of weight loss and tone up all the jiggly parts? Watch the extra pounds fly off and your muscles firm up with the BetterMe app!
Brazil Nuts Benefits For Health
Based on the Brazil nut nutrition facts, research has proven that including them in your diet can have the following benefits for your health:
Brazil nuts contain selenium, which is a mineral that boosts the immune system, allowing it to fight off diseases more efficiently (16).
In addition, the antioxidant-rich composition of Brazil nuts also improves immunity by neutralizing free radicals before they can damage cells and cause diseases.
Enhance Healthy Hair & Skin Health
The selenium content in Brazil nuts helps improve skin health, giving you a radiant glow and healthy skin tone (11). In addition, the essential fats in these nuts help moisturize hair, allowing you to enjoy healthier and more manageable locks.
Improve Bone Health
The magnesium content in Brazil nuts helps your body absorb calcium to reach peak bone health (18). Protein, on the other hand, keeps your bones healthy by preventing the excessive breakdown of bones.
Better Heart Health
Omega-3 fatty acids in Brazil nuts help lower blood pressure, which improves heart health by preventing atherosclerosis, strokes, and cardiovascular diseases. They are also rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients that keep cholesterol away from your heart (1).
In addition to all the other Brazil nuts benefits for health, they provide antioxidants, such as selenium, which help fight free radicals in the body, preventing them from causing inflammation and damaging arteries in the heart. This significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (3).
Improve Brain Function
Brazil nuts benefit health in a significant way by enhancing brain function due to their high selenium and elastic acid content. Both have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect your brain and improve cognitive function (7) (15). This helps improve memory, concentration, and clarity of thought, which reduces the risk of cognitive decline with age. It also improves learning ability and moods, thus keeping you in a positive state of mind throughout the day.
Manganese is another mineral that Brazil nuts contain in abundance that strengthens your mental alertness allowing you to focus on tasks with greater accuracy and clarity. Manganese deficiency is associated with symptoms such as (8):
- Bradycardia (slowness in heart rate)
- Dysarthria (problems in speech articulation)
- Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
- Impaired attention
- Intellectual disability
- Parkinsonism (symptoms like tremors)
- Peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves)
Prevent Metabolic Syndrome
Brazil nuts are known to be one of the densest sources of selenium which is an important antioxidant. They contain over 100% of your daily recommended value. In addition, they also provide other minerals, such as chromium and magnesium, which help with blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin secretion (13). This means that consuming them regularly can help protect against metabolic syndrome that leads to type-2 diabetes.
Assist Antioxidant Processes
The wide array of nutrients present in Brazil nuts assists antioxidant processes in the body by boosting the activity of various enzymes that neutralize free radicals. This prevents several diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and others from occurring (13).
Brazil nuts are rich in fiber, which helps promote healthy bowel movement and improve overall digestive health.
Support Healthy Pregnancy & Lactation
Brazil nut provides small amounts of selenium and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that are important for a healthy pregnancy. These nutrients help support brain and eye development, as well as helping manage morning sickness and postpartum depression. Meanwhile, the folate content in Brazil nuts helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus (9).
Brazil nuts are also an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which help meet the nutritional needs of breastfeeding mothers. The high-fat content helps boost caloric intake without causing excessive weight gain, keeping you fit even during this period.
If you tend to let yourself off the hook, raise the white flag when things get tougher than you expected, send yourself on an unconscious binge-eating trip – BetterMe app is here to help you leave all of these sabotaging habits in the past!
Brazil nut benefits for health include improved mood due to its omega-3 fatty acids content, which is known to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. In addition, magnesium present in them helps lift your mood as it is a neurotransmitter that boosts serotonin which regulates sleep, appetite, and impulse control. This reduces irritability and mood swings as well as cravings for sugary foods, thus helping prevent low serotonin levels associated with depression (19).
Selenium is a mineral that increases testosterone levels in males. In turn, this helps to improve your sex drive and performance (12).
Brazil nut benefits for men also include improved bone health, as it is a great source of zinc that regulates testosterone production, thus aiding in improving sexual function. It also contains high amounts of vitamin B6 that is important for sperm production and proper functioning of the nervous system.
Side Effects Of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nut benefits are numerous but, this does not mean that it is completely devoid of side effects. Too much consumption can lead to several complications, such as:
High Blood Pressure
Eating an excessive amount of Brazil nuts can cause high blood pressure due to their high-fat content. As a result, people who have been diagnosed with hypertension should monitor the amount they consume in a day and limit themselves to just a few.
Brazil nut benefits include improved thyroid function, but an excessive amount can suppress the production of hormones as it contains goitrogens, which inhibit iodine absorption (17). When this happens, hypothyroidism (when your body fails to produce enough thyroid hormone) may occur; those at risk include people with existing iodine deficiency as well as those who already suffer from autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease.
Possible Allergic Reactions
Brazil nuts contain a high amount of the amino acid, tryptophan which is known to cause serotonin levels in your body to increase; this can trigger allergic reactions. As a result, people who have been diagnosed with conditions such as celiac disease may experience an adverse reaction or aggravation when consuming Brazil nuts regularly.
The Bottom Line
Brazil nuts provide many health benefits, but they also come with some downsides, such as their high-fat content, which means that consuming too much can make you gain weight and increase your cholesterol levels. Fortunately, this does not mean that eating brazil nuts is no longer good for you; all it means is that moderation is key.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Single Consumption of High Amounts of the Brazil Nuts Improves Lipid Profile of Healthy Volunteers (2013, hindawi.com)
- Brazil nut consumption promotes satiety without increasing blood glucose and insulin responses in healthy adults (2019, researcgate.net)
- Brazil Nuts (Bertholletia excelsa): Improved Selenium Status and Other Health Benefits (2019, sciencedirect.com)
- Dietary Selenium Intake Modulates Thyroid Hormone and Energy Metabolism in Men (2003, academic.oup.com)
- Differential Effects of Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats on Satiety and Gut Hormone Responses in Healthy Subjects (2019, mdpi.com)
- Effect of Fibre Supplementation on Body Weight and Composition, Frequency of Eating and Dietary Choice in Overweight Individuals (2017, mdpi.com)
- Effects of Brazil nut consumption on selenium status and cognitive performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled pilot trial (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Manganese (2021, ods.od.nih.gov)
- Nutrition During Pregnancy, Lactation and Early Childhood and its Implications for Maternal and Long-Term Child Health: The Early Nutrition Project Recommendations (2019)
- Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Role of Micronutrients in Skin Health and Function (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Role of Selenium and Selenoproteins in Male Reproductive Function: A Review of Past and Present Evidences (2019, mdpi.com)
- Selenium (2021, ods.od.nih.gov)
- Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment (2017, hindawi.com)
- The Effects of Ellagic Acid upon Brain Cells: A Mechanistic View and Future Directions (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The influence of selenium on immune responses (2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The role of micronutrients in thyroid dysfunction (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Role of Nutrients in Bone Health, from A to Z (2007, tandfonline.com)
- Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses (2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Zinc supplementation improves body weight management, inflammatory biomarkers and insulin resistance in individuals with obesity: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (2019, biomedcentral.com)