Brazil nuts nutrition facts
Amazon’s forest holds some of the unique plant species like Brazil nuts, acai berry, etc., that can be found nowhere else on the planet earth. Native Amazonian cherished these delicious nuts since ages, which provide them much-needed protein, fats and other essential nutrients.
Botanically, brazil-nut tree belongs within the family of Lecythidaceae, of the genus: Bertholletia. Scientific name: Bertholletia excelsa. Some of the common names are castanha-do-par, castania, para-nut, cream-nut, Castaa-de-Brazil (chestnuts of Brazil)…etc.
Brazil nut trees are found conspicuously in the non-flooded forest regions of Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. They are indeed one of the long living, tallest trees in all the tropical rain forests; grow to 50 meters tall with large erect stem and wide umbrella like foliage at the top 1/3. They thought to have the life span of about 500 to 700 years.
Internally, each fruit features 10-25 seeds arranged in orange-like segments. Each nut is in turn encased within its own thick dark-brown color individual shell. The edible kernel feature three-sided shape with sweet nutty flavor white meat and weigh about five g.
Health benefits of Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are high in calories, contains good quantities of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. The nuts in-fact have been staple diet of Amazonian.
100 g of brazil nuts provide about 656 calories. Their high caloric content comes from their fats. However, the nuts are an especially excellent source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like palmitoleic acid (16:1) and oleic acid (18:1) that helps to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent 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 membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Brazil nuts contain exceptionally high levels of selenium. 100 g nuts provide about 1917 g of selenium and 3485% of recommended daily intake making 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 foods in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers.
Furthermore, like almonds and pine nuts, brazil nuts too are free from gluten and therefore, is one of the popular ingredients for 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, they work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism inside the body.
In addition to selenium, they contain 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 antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Brazil nut oil, obtained from these nuts, has many traditional medicinal applications as emollient and massage therapy. It has clear yellow color with a pleasant, sweet smell and taste. Its emollient property helps to keep skin well protected from dryness. It has also been used in cooking, and as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in aromatherapy, in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry