Often included in pre-packaged nut mixtures, Brazil nuts are loved for their buttery texture and subtle flavor. Harvested in certain regions of Brazil and the Amazon Jungle, these pop-able snacks are very high in vitamins and minerals that can help prevent certain cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, a trace mineral that promotes immune and thyroid function. This nutrient is used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, stroke, atherosclerosis and the prevention of prostate, stomach, skin and lung cancers. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, observational studies have indicated that death rates for certain cancers are lower among people with higher levels of selenium. Selenium affects cancer as an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals, and can also slow or prevent tumor growth if it does occur. The nutrient also enhances immune cell activity that suppresses the growth of blood vessels to the tumor.
With 544 micrograms per ounce, Brazil nuts contain 777 percent of the daily recommended value of selenium. For those seeking anti-cancer benefits, buying unshelled Brazil nuts is more beneficial. According to ABC News, the unshelled versions contain four times more selenium than nuts that have been pre-shelled.
Brazil nuts contain high levels of monounsaturated fats, which can reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. With nutrients like vitamin E, monounsaturated fats also help the body generate and maintain new cells. One ounce of Brazil nuts has up to 7 grams of monounsaturated fat, which is approximately 17 percent of the recommended daily value.
Although they are packed with beneficial nutrients, Brazil nuts should still be consumed in moderation. One ounce can contain as much as 185 calories and 19 grams of fat. Although this is “good” fat, consuming large quantities of Brazil nuts can still cause unwanted weight gain.