Brazil Nuts Benefits: 7 Research-Backed Health Effects
Contrary to their name, Brazil nuts are actually seeds that come from Bertholletia excelsa trees.
Brazil nuts are rich in a wide range of nutrients and can have a bright, nutty flavor. As a result, snacking on them or cooking with them can be a delicious way to provide your body with nutrients.
This article discusses the main health benefits of Brazil nuts as supported by research. This article also explains the recommended serving sizes of Brazil nuts, as well as possible health concerns.
1. Rich in macronutrients and micronutrients
Brazil nuts can be an excellent source of both macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients people need in larger amounts, such as protein and carbohydrates. Micronutrients are nutrients that are beneficial in smaller amounts, such as vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients are an essential part of health. They support processes such as development and protection from disease. As a result, Brazil nuts may be good for you as part of a balanced diet.
The following table outlines the nutritional value of dried Brazil nuts, including some of its most significant nutrients. The percent daily value (%DV) measures how much of the daily recommendation for the nutrient that the food serving fulfills.
However, each persons’ exact nutritional needs can vary widely, so you may need to adjust quantities slightly.
Additionally, for maximum health benefits, incorporate Brazil nuts as part of a balanced diet. This can include meeting your nutrient requirements with whole, unprocessed, and plant-based foods.
Learn more about macronutrients and micronutrients, and their benefits.
Brazil nuts are a source of two minerals that are important for bone health: magnesium and calcium.
Magnesium may help to improve bone health by improving bone mineral density. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supplementing magnesium in the diet may alleviate the impacts of some bone conditions, such as osteoporosis.
Calcium can also benefit bone and tooth health by keeping the tissues strong.
Brazil nuts are very high in selenium. Research-backed benefits of selenium include effects on:
- Brain health: Selenium may be important for cognitive function and preventing memory loss. A 2021 review suggests that selenium may help protect the brain from negative impacts of stress.
- Immune health: Another 2021 study indicates that selenium is essential for regulation of the immune system. This can include supporting immune system action against tumors.
- Thyroid function: Some research, including this 2017 study, suggests that selenium may help improve overall thyroid health. According to research, selenium may also prevent certain thyroid diseases, such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Some researchers also suggest that selenium may decrease the risk of cancer. However, other studies suggest a lack of evidence to support this. As a result, more research may be necessary to confirm the effects.
Selenium levels in brazil nuts can be toxic
As selenium levels in brazil nuts are so high, eating too many can be toxic.
To avoid toxicity, eat no more than 1–2 nuts per day.
4. May reduce inflammation and protect against disease
Brazil nuts contain many antioxidants, including selenium, vitamin E, and phenols.
Antioxidants are natural substances that can prevent cell damage from reactive molecules known as free radicals. Over time, higher levels of free radicals may cause long lasting damage or lead to certain conditions.
Conversely, antioxidants may help protect against this damage and reduce the resulting inflammation. This may also help prevent or alleviate the effects of health conditions.
For example, a 2020 study suggests that supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 improved kidney function in those with deficiencies. Researchers attribute this to anti-inflammatory effects.
A 2022 systematic review also suggests that brazil nuts improve inflammation in people with chronic conditions and those undergoing hemodialysis.
Read more about an anti-inflammatory diet and its benefits.
5. Support cardiovascular health
Brazil nuts contain types of fats known as fatty acids or unsaturated fats. These can be beneficial for heart health. Brazil nuts also contain nutrients that may help reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. These nutrients include:
- magnesium, selenium, and other minerals
- vitamin E and other vitamins
A 2020 review suggests that Brazil nuts may help prevent, improve, or slow the progression of cardiovascular disease. Researchers suggest that Brazil nuts may:
- protect from free radicals and their damage
- improve blood vessel health and function
- decrease blood vessel inflammation
- improve blood pressure
- improve cholesterol levels
Researchers also suggest that eating a few Brazil nuts daily can provide cardiovascular benefits. These include protection against atherosclerosis, which may lead to:
6. May support body composition changes
A 2022 controlled trial suggests that Brazil nuts may benefit body composition.
Body composition refers to the ratio of muscle, fat, and bone in the body. Clinicians suggest that the ideal body composition for good health relies on a specific balance of these components.
The trial participants added Brazil and cashew nuts to their diet. Researchers then looked at changes in participants’ body composition. The researchers suggest that eating an energy-restricted diet with cashew and Brazil nuts reduced body fat more than an energy-restricted diet without nuts.
However, further research may be necessary to confirm these results.
7. May help manage diabetes
There are a couple of ways researchers suggest Brazil nuts may help control diabetes.
A 2020 study of blood cells suggests that eating Brazil nuts reduced signs of diabetes-related damage. Researchers also observed resistance to further damage in the cells.
Additionally, a 2017 review indicates that a diet including Brazil and other nuts may improve the body’s control of blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. However, the review suggests that not all the evidence is high quality. As a result, further investigation may be necessary.
How many Brazil nuts per day?
Brazil nuts are nutrient dense, so a small serving provides benefits.
However, too much selenium can cause side effects. Therefore, researchers advise eating no more than just a few Brazil nuts per day. Many researchers have observed health benefits of Brazil nuts from eating just one or two per day.
Contact your doctor or a licensed dietician before adding Brazil nuts to a child’s diet.
Do Brazil nuts have side effects?
The NIH warns against consuming too many Brazil nuts because of the high amount of selenium they contain. In appropriate amounts, selenium can be beneficial. However, consuming too much can cause:
Some people may have allergic reactions to Brazil nuts. If you have an allergy to other tree nuts or seeds, avoid eating Brazil nuts. If you believe you may have an allergy, contact your doctor for allergy testing.
Seek emergency medical attention if you experience itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing after eating nuts or seeds.
Brazil nuts are a rich source of many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants. Eating even a few Brazil nuts may help improve thyroid and cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and protect against disease. However, Brazil nuts should be part of a balanced diet to best support your health.
Eating one or two Brazil nuts per day may provide health benefits. However, eating too many can lead to having too much selenium in your body. Too much selenium causes negative side effects.
Seek immediate medical care if you experience new or severe symptoms after eating nuts or seeds.