Why Is It Hard to Find Brazil Nuts?

Reviewed on 12/9/2020
Brazil nuts are native to areas around the Amazon in the regions of Brazil

Brazil nuts are native to areas around the Amazon in the regions of Brazil.

Brazil nuts are native to areas around the Amazon in the regions of Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. From there, they are exported to other places all over the world. They are edible seeds derived from one of the tallest trees in the world.

There are various reasons why Brazil nuts must have become harder to find in the market than it was a few years back. After the “catastrophic” harvest in the Amazon rainforest, there has been a drastic reduction in the supplies of Brazil nuts. A lack of rain across South America due to El Niño also caused the Brazil nut pods to fall early causing fewer seeds to germinate and develop into trees. Besides, due to the drop in the production of Brazil nuts in recent years, cutting down a Brazil nut tree has been banned in Brazil.

There are speculations that scarcity of Brazil nuts may cause the prices of these nutritious nuts to rise considerably in the coming years.

What are the health benefits of Brazil nuts?

The American Academy of Nutrition recommends eating nuts and seeds as a part of a healthy diet. Brazil nut is one of the recommended nuts on the list.

Brazil nuts are an excellent, gluten-free source of dietary fiber, various vitamins, such as thiamin and Vitamin E, and minerals, such as selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Many of these nutrients are antioxidants (protect the body against free radicals).

Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the daily value of selenium. Selenium is a mineral with a strong antioxidant property that helps fight off inflammation. This anti-inflammatory effect of selenium can help prevent illnesses with an inflammatory component, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and certain neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

The current recommended dietary intake of selenium in adults is between 55 and 75 micrograms per day. Consumption of two to seven Brazil nuts can fulfill this requirement.

Let us have a look at what specific health benefits Brazil nuts can offer:

  • Improved heart health: In general, nuts have been shown to have a heart-healthy effect due to their cholesterol-reducing effects. Just nine Brazil nuts have 28 grams of fat; the majority of fat being monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These types of fats along with the fiber content of Brazil nuts can help reduce your risk for heart diseases.
  • Healthy for the thyroid gland: Selenium is an important mineral vital to the functioning of your thyroid gland. An unhealthy thyroid gland can increase your risk of thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism. Eating Brazil nuts can boost your thyroid gland health.
  • Diabetes management: Some studies show that the selenium in Brazil nuts can help in the management of type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Stronger and healthy bones: Being a good source of calcium and magnesium (both of which help in giving you stronger bones) Brazil nuts can help your bones stay healthy.
  • Good for gut functioning: The fiber content of Brazil nuts gives you smooth bowel movements and helps with issues, such as constipation.

Are there any side effects of eating Brazil nuts?

Taking the recommended intake of Brazil nuts can rarely cause any trouble. If they are consumed in excess, you may face problems, such as:

  • Allergies: Like any other nut, eating Brazil nuts can cause allergic reactions. If you develop any signs of allergies, stop eating the nuts and consult the doctor right away.
  • Weight gain: Due to its high calorie and fat content, Brazil nuts may come in the way of your weight management. Ask your doctor or a certified nutritionist how much of them you can have.
  • Selenium toxicity: Selenium overdose due to eating Brazil nuts in excess can cause nausea, vomiting, nail discoloration, brittleness, hair loss, fatigue, irritability, and bad breath. See your doctor if you face any of these symptoms after eating Brazil nuts.

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References
Ellson A. Brazil Nuts Shortage Is a Cereal Killer. The Times. May 22, 2017. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/brazil-nuts-shortage-is-a-cereal-killer-5xk2j7t69#:~:text=Eating%20a%20healthy%20breakfast%20is,harvest%20in%20the%20Amazon%20rainforest.

Peres CA, Baider C, Zuidema PA, et al. Demographic Threats to the Sustainability of Brazil Nut Exploitation. Science. December 19, 2003;302(5653):2112-4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14684819/ USDA. Nuts, Brazilnuts, Dried, Unblanched. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170569/nutrients

Mayonewsreleases. Big Nutrition, Small Package. Mayoclinic June 24, 2013. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/big-nutrition-small-package/#:~:text=Just%20nine%20Brazil%20nuts%20have,Lower%20cholesterol.

Eat Right. In a nutshell. https://www.eatright.org/-/media/eatrightimages/posters/nuts/nut_24x36.pdf

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