Scattered throughout the Amazon Rainforest in South America are trees called Bertholletia excelsa that can live for over 500 years. Growing from these impressive trees are brazil nuts.

Brazil nuts come in large pods about the size of a baseball that are so tough, only an axe or machete can reveal what’s inside. Opening these pods are well worth the effort, however, because these nuts are bursting with protein, fiber, selenium, and many other incredible nutrients!

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Below are 10 reasons you should be including brazil nuts in your diet.

1. They’re the Number One Source of Selenium 

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Selenium is a trace element that is incorporated into selenoproteins when ingested that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies have shown that regular, moderate doses of selenium are necessary for reproduction, have antiviral effects, and are successful at lowering the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease. If your selenium levels are low, it could put you at risk for poor immune function and cognitive deterioration.

It is recommended that you consume about 55-60 micrograms of selenium a day, and you can get exceed this dosage by eating just one brazil nut! Brazil nuts, without a doubt, are the number one source of natural dietary selenium.

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2. They’re Rich in Protein 

Brazil Nut Fudge/One Green Planet

Adding brazil nuts to your diet is an awesome way to up your daily protein levels. There are 4.3 grams of protein in a small serving size of 6 brazil nuts! This makes them an excellent addition to high-protein recipes.

Try brazil nuts in this Brazil Nut Fudge, pictured above, or this Cauliflower Brazil Nut Purée with Crispy Tofu for a protein rich meal plan.

3. They Reduce Inflammation

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Brazil nuts contain an antioxidant known as ellagic acid, that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Antioxidants work to combat inflammation by fighting free radical production induced by environmental and biological origins. Without these antioxidants, the likelihood of developing inflammatory diseases or disorders increases.

The presence of zinc and selenium in brazil nuts also boost its anti-inflammatory properties.

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To help combat inflammation, sprinkle this Brazil Nut Parmesan over pasta, pizza, or salads.

4. They’re Great for the Digestive System 

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Dietary fiber is revered for its ability to stimulate the digestive system, but its function may be more important than you think. If you are regularly consuming a diet rich in fiber, you are significantly reducing your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and colon cancer. This is because fiber works to flush your system, and reduce contact time with carcinogenic sources in the intestine.

Brazil nuts are a great source of fiber to help keep your digestive system clean and healthy.

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For a fiber-fueled breakfast try this Cinnamon Vanilla Brazil Nut Butter drizzled over a bowl of Pomegranate Quinoa Porridge.

5. They Promote Healthy Skin

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The presence of vitamin E found in brazil nuts contributes to healthy, glowing skin. This is because vitamin E, as an antioxidant, functions primarily to stop damage from UV-induced free radical production and reactive oxygen species that would otherwise harm the skin. Vitamin E may also help heal inflammation in the skin, but research is still limited on that effect.

Brazil nut oil can be applied topically to the skin, to receive the amazing benefits of vitamin E!

6. They Encourage Thick, Healthy Hair 

Artless Photos/Flickr

L-arginine is an amino acid found in brazil nuts known to prevent hair loss and encourage thick, lustrous hair. This amino acid increases the level of nitric oxide in our bodies which is necessary for hair growth. It is also believed to stimulate the production of new hair follicles because it improves capillary blood circulation.

7. They’re Rich in Zinc 

Raw Coconut and Brazil Nut Truffles/One Green Planet

Zinc is an essential nutrient that is especially important during periods of adolescent growth and pregnancy for proper development. Zinc also breaks down carbohydrates, is important to the immune system, plays a role in cell division and growth, helps heal wounds, and is needed for the smell and taste senses. Without zinc, your skeletal, reproductive, and immune system will be negatively affected. Luckily, brazil nuts are an awesome plant-based source of zinc.

For a healthy dose of zinc try these Raw Coconut and Brazil Nut Truffles, pictured above, or this Brazil Nut Cheese.

8. They Enhance Bone Strength

5 Ways to Optimize Bone Health/One Green Planet

With a high copper content, brazil nuts work wonders at enhancing bone health and strength. Copper, another trace mineral, assists in the formation of collagen and connective tissues due to the presence of an enzyme called lysyl oxidase. A deficiency of copper has also been linked to osteoporosis.

To increase the formation of collagen, try these Chocolate-Covered Brazil Nut Stuffed Medjool Dates.

9. They Boost Brain Health

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Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is essential for the nervous system to function properly. Not only can regular doses of thiamine improve your mood, but it also reduces memory loss in patients with dementia and Alzheimers, and can help in treating depression.

Nuts, especially brazil nuts, are a great way to get your daily intake of brain-boosting vitamin B1.

10. They’re a Great Source of Heart-Healthy Fats 

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Brazil nuts contain oleic and palmitoleic acid, unsaturated fatty acids, that have positive effects on cholesterol metabolism, hemostasis, and insulin sensitivity. They also help to lower bad LDL cholesterol, while producing HDL cholesterol.

Eating brazil nuts, like this Chocolate Covered Nut Bar, is a great way to introduce healthy fats into your diet.

If you are looking for more recipes using brazil nuts, we recommend downloading this Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

Lead Image Source: Unique and Delectable Ways to Use Brazil Nuts/One Green Planet