Brazil nuts as the name suggests, are found in Brazil and in most part of South America. These nuts are large like coconuts. Each nut contains many seeds which are edible. They have amazing nutritional value.
They contain high selenium which is an important anti-oxidant. Selenium can protect the body from harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive particles that can oxidise and there by damage the body cells and tissues. Selenium can neutralise the effect of free radicals and protect our body from a number of diseases. Selenium is considered an essential trace element for humans. Blood selenium levels in chronic dialysis patients are frequently reported to be lower than in control. Research shows that dialysis patients who consumed one nut a day approximately weighing 6gm for three months have shown remarkable improvement in selenium levels and anti-oxidative status in the body.
However, excess consumption should be avoided as presence of high levels of selenium in the body can cause fatigue, irritability and stomach upset.
Other than Selenium they have all the essential minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc that are required to the body to strengthen the immune system. They are also a good source of vitamin E and B complex group of vitamins.
- B complex group of vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folates altogether work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism inside the body.
- E vitamin is a strong anti-oxidant that maintains the integrity of cell membranes and protects skin from free radical damage.
- Brazil nuts are gluten free and are healthy alternative to celiac effected people.
- These nuts have high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which can reduce the levels of cholesterol and thereby lower the risk of cardio- vascular diseases.
- In some people the body fails to absorb sufficient amount of zinc from the diet leading to zinc deficiency. Brazil nuts contain high levels of zinc and hence can be helpful for anyone with this disorder.
- Brazil nut oil which is extracted from these nuts has many traditional medical uses. It has been used in aromatherapy, in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
- Unshelled nuts have a longer shelf life. Brazil nuts contain polyunsaturated fats so they may go rancid if remained exposed to air, sunlight etc. If kept in refrigerator they can be stored for longer period without spoiling.
- They can be eaten like any other nut salted roasted or sweetened. They are used on salads, desserts and sprinkled on vegetables. They are also used in pudding, fudge and chocolate preparations.
- These nuts are very heavy and cause fatal accidents. In Brazil and some other countries cutting down of Brazil nut tree is a punishable offence. Sometimes the nuts on the roadside trees fall off on passersby and often people are met with bad accidents. Vehicles parked under the tree are damaged. Despite all these drawbacks, Brazilians love this nut adores it and relishes it in many ways.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna