Brazil nuts nutrition facts
Amazons forest holds some of the unique plant species like brazil nuts, acai berry etc…that can be found nowhere else on the planet earth. Native Amazonians have long been cherished these delicious nuts which provide them much needed protein, fats and other essential nutrients.
Botanically brazil nut tree belongs to the family of Lecythidaceae, of the genus: Bertholletia. Scientific name: Bertholletia excelsa. Some common names are castania, castanheiro do para, para-nut, cream-nut, castana- de-para, castana-de-Brazil (chestnuts of Brazil)...etc.
Brazil nut trees are found conspicuously in the non-flooded forest regions of Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. They are indeed one of the tallest trees in the tropical rain forest; grow to 50 meters tall with large erect stem and wide umbrella like foliage at the top 1/3. They may have the life span of about 500 to 700 years.
Each mature tree bears up to 300 fruit pods in a season. The pod is a large shelled fruit, similar to a coconut, takes about 14 months to mature after pollination. The mature fruit fall from the tree usually with a loud crashing sound. The pods remain intact even after fall from such a height. In the natural habitat, they strongly depend on caviomorph rodents (agoutis, Dasyprocta spp.) that are able to gnaw open the woody shell and subsequently disperse leftover seeds for germination. Each pod can weigh up to 2.5 kg.
Internally, each fruit features 10-25 seeds arranged in a orange segments. Each nut is in turn encased within its own thick dark brown color individual shell. The edible brazil nut kernel feature three-sided shape with sweet nutty flavor white meat and weigh about 5 g.
Health benefits of Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are high in calories, contains good quantities of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. The nuts in-fact have been staple diet of Amazonians.
100 g of brazil nuts provide about 656 calories. Their high caloric content is because of their fats. However, the nuts are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like palmitoleic acid (16:1) and oleic acid (18:1) that helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
- Brazil nuts contain exceptionally high levels of selenium. 100 g nuts provide about 1917 mcg of selenium and 3485% of recommended daily intake making them as highest natural source of this mineral. Selenium is an important cofactor for anti-oxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase. Just 1-2 brazil nut a day provides enough of this trace element. Adequate selenium foods in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers.
The nuts are also very good source of vitamin E; contain about 7.87 mg per 100 g (about 52% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.
Furthermore, like almonds and pinenuts, brazil nuts are free from gluten and therefore are one of the popular ingredient in the preparation of gluten free food formulas. These formula preparations are in fact healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergy and celiac disease.
In addition, these cream nuts are excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin (51% of RDA per 100 g), riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins functions as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism.
In addition to selenium, they contain very good levels of other minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Copper helps prevent anemia and bone weakness (osteoporosis). Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Brazil nut oil, obtained from these nuts, has many traditional medicinal applications as emolient and massage therapy. It has clear yellow color with a pleasant, sweet smell and taste. Its emollient property helps to keep skin well protected from dryness. It has also been used in cooking, and as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in aromatherapy, in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||66.43 g||221%|
|Dietary Fiber||7.5 g||20%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.184 mg||3.5%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||0.7 mcg||1%|
|Vitamin E-gamma||7.87 mg||52%|
Selection and storage
Brazil nuts are available raw (with shells and without), roasted and salted in the stores. Since the nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats they turn rancid and deteriorate rather early if remain exposed to air, humidity, and sunlight. It is, therefore recommended to purchase unshelled nuts and shell (remove outer coat) as and when required to get edible meaty kernel.
Buy whole, brown color nuts that feature full, compact, and heavy in hand. Avoid shriveled and damaged ones as they may be affected by fungus.
Unshelled brazil nuts will keep in a cool, dry place for a few months. The best way to store is to put them in air-seal bags and place inside the refrigerator. This method will prevent them from turning rancid.
Raw cream nuts are generally cut open at processing units using larger sheller machines. Smaller nut sheller equipment or hand held pliers usually are being used for domestic uses.
Here are some serving tips:
Brazil nuts can be eaten all alone. Additionally they can also be enjoyed roasted, salted, or sweetened.
They also used in fudge, puddings, pesto, chocolates-bars and crunch bar production.
Coarsely ground brazil nuts sprinkled over fruit/vegetable salads.
They are also used in desserts, particularly in fruitcakes.
They can also be added to soup as well as meat and vegetable dishes.
Brazil nut oil is used in salad dressing and in cooking.
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