Native Amazonians cherished brazil nuts for their delicious flavor and for the protein, fats, and other essential nutrients they provide. Indeed, Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are high in mono and polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-6 fatty acids, a one ounce (67 nuts) serving provides about 185 calories, 5 grams of protein, and a rich supply of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. In fact, Brazil nuts are the highest natural source of selenium (543 mcg in 1 oz.).
Research suggests that selenium might play a role in the prevention or treatment of heart disease, cognitive decline, liver disease, some types of cancer, and thyroid disease. Selenium concentrations are highest in the thyroid gland, and it has a vital role in the functioning of the gland. Just two Brazil nuts a day make it easy for most people to meet their daily selenium requirement.
Don’t go overboard on Brazil nuts—too much selenium in the diet can cause brittle nails, alopecia, rash, upset stomach, and fatigue. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences advises a maximum limit of 45 mcg of selenium for kids and 400 mcg for adults daily. The best way to enjoy Brazil nuts is to mix a few with other types of nuts, seeds, and raisins. Sprinkle on salad, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.
National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.”
Nutrition and You. “Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts.”