Eating nuts may improve heart health, reports the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." If improving health is your goal, Brazil nuts make a good choice. These large nuts can help you get more fiber and minerals in your diet. They are an especially good source of selenium.
Calories, Carbs and Protein
Like all nuts, Brazil nuts are high in calories. A 1-ounce serving, which is approximately six small nuts, has 185 calories, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. As a result of their macronutrient composition, nuts are classified as protein foods. To keep calories under control, limit your portion and eat them in place of meat, poultry or eggs.
A Close Look at Fat Content
Ninety-two percent of the calories in a 1-ounce serving of Brazil nuts come from the 19-gram fat total. While the nut is high in fat, most of it is healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends that most of the fat in your diet come from these unsaturated fats. Eating more of these fats instead of saturated fats may help reduce cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.
B Vitamins and Vitamin E
Brazil nuts are not a significant source of any vitamins, but they can help you get some vitamin E and a few B vitamins. A 1-ounce serving of Brazil nuts meets 8 percent of the daily value for vitamin E, 12 percent of the daily value for thiamin, 2 percent of the daily value for folate and 1 percent of the DV for riboflavin and vitamin B-6.
Vitamin E is important for immune health and helps your body fight off viruses and bacteria. It's also an important antioxidant. Thiamin is a B vitamin that helps metabolize carbs, protein and fat.
Good Source of Minerals
Brazil nuts are a source of a number of minerals, most notably magnesium, copper and phosphorus, meeting at least 20 percent of the daily value for all three in a 1-ounce serving. The nut also contains some iron and calcium, meeting 4 percent of the daily value for both.
Both magnesium and copper play important roles in enzyme reactions, while phosphorus is a component of your cell membranes and is needed for bone mineralization.
What sets the Brazil nut apart from any other nut, and any other food, is its selenium content. As an antioxidant, selenium may improve heart health by preventing lipid oxidation, blood clotting and reducing inflammation.
The recommended dietary allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms per day for adults. Yet a 1-ounce serving of Brazil nuts contains about 540 micrograms -- almost 10 times the RDA -- and more than the tolerable upper intake level of 400 micrograms. Acute selenium toxicity is a concern with Brazil nuts, and to prevent ill-effects, you should limit your intake of Brazil nuts to no more than 1 ounce several times per week.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: A Single Consumption of High Amounts of the Brazil Nuts Improves Lipid Profile of Healthy Volunteers
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nuts Brazilnuts Dried Unblanched
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Selenium
- USDA Food Nutrient Database: Nuts, Brazilnuts, Dried, Unblanched
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin E
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B1
- Linus Pauling Institute: Minerals
- Photo Credit Diana Taliun/iStock/Getty Images
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