Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Eat Brazil Nuts?

Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are a marvelous little package. Interestingly, they are not farmed but grow wild in the forests of South America. Attempts to farm them have been dismal failures due to their specific needs for pollination. In fact, even if the forest has been partially cleared or unduly disturbed, the yield of nuts on the trees is drastically reduced. Because of this, some say that eating brazil nuts helps to keep those forests intact. There may be some truth in that because selling brazil nuts is an important cash crop to the people of those areas.

Brazil nuts have the highest selenium content of any food. Just eating 2-4 nuts per day will give you ample selenium for your general needs. One chart suggests that there can be as much as 544 micrograms in 1 ounce of brazil nuts. This would probably equate to about 77 micrograms per nut. The selenium content of the nuts can vary so they may not all have this much.

What Do We Use Selenium For?

Selenium has a role in the prevention of some degenerative diseases. These include:
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Infections
  • Aging
  • Neurological diseases
One study, done in 1966, showed that people taking 200mcg selenium per day for 4 1/2 years had a reduction of their cancer risk by 32% and their risk of death by cancer by 50%. If eating a few brazil nuts could potentially give these benefits, it is certainly a tasty cheap way to add this nutrient to ones diet.

Selenium is also a very effective antioxidant. It also has the ability to regenerate vitamins E and C in the body. That is, in the presence of some nutrients, such as selenium and lipoic acid, vitamins C and E are able to continue working longer in our bodies than they otherwise would.

Selenium is useful in diabetes. It seems to be able to mimic the action of insulin as well as helping to slow down the progress of secondary complications such as neuropathy, cataracts and such like.

Arthritis sufferers often show low selenium levels.

Selenium is present in nearly every cell in our bodies and is essential for many processes. It is also useful in protecting against and neutralising certain toxins.

Some Other Nutrients in Brazil Nuts
  • Protein (all essential amino acids present)
  • Copper
  • Niacin
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous
  • Iron
I am sure there is much more that could be written about the benefits of brazil nuts, but this is perhaps enough to show that they are an excellent choice to include in a healthy diet.

Stay healthy

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