Brazil nuts are calorie and nutrient dense. High in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6 fatty acids, a one-ounce (6-7 nuts) serving provides about 185 calories, 5 grams of protein, and a rich supply of magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium. In fact, Brazil nuts are the highest natural source of selenium (543 mcg in 1 oz.).
A potent micronutrient, scientific evidence to date 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 its function.
Just two Brazil nuts a day make it easy for most people to meet their daily selenium requirement. But it’s important to work with a clinical nutritionist to assess your individual need for selenium if you suspect a deficiency to ensure you’re getting the right amount.
Because it is possible to get too much selenium, 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 combine a few with other types of nuts, seeds, and raisins. Sprinkle on salad, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.
Brazil Nut Butter Recipe
Homemade nut butters is a great opportunity to enjoy these nutritious spreads without added sugar, salt, or preservatives often found in store-bought varieties.
Note: There is a 2 to 1 ratio of nuts to nut butter. To make 1 cup of nut butter, start with 2 cups of shelled nuts.
- 2 cups organic raw nuts (feel free to mix it up, equal parts brazil, almond and cashew for example)
- Optional flavor add-ins (all to taste; opt for organic or locally sourced):
- Stevia, local, raw honey, or grade A/B maple syrup
- Vanilla or almond extract
- Cocoa powder or cacao nibs*
- Puree of dried fruit or dried fruit bits* (apricot, raisin, cherry, cranberry)
*The former creates a smooth spread, the latter chunky.
To make the nuts more digestible, soak and dehydrate the nuts to extract phytic acids (compounds that bind minerals). Before grinding, soak nuts in water and cover for 8-12 hours. Dehydrate about 10 hours.
(optional) To add a distinctive, warm flavor, toast the nuts before grinding. Toast nuts on a dry baking sheet at 400°F until nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch closely; nuts easily scorch. Nuts should be cool to the touch before grinding.
Food processor or high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix).
Place nuts into a food processor and start blending, leaving out the optional flavor add-ins. Blend for 11-12 minutes. You may need to grind at various speeds or intervals until you reach the consistency that meets your taste preferences. The nuts will go through several stages and you’ll need to keep pressing the contents into the center of the blender as you go through the process: The nuts will crumble, clump, ball, redistribute, and then finally … the oils will release, and you’ll have a nice spread.
Mix in your choice of flavor add-ins by hand. Nut butter keeps in the refrigerator for about a month.
- National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” Accessed May 2015.
- National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” Accessed May 2015.
- Nutrition and You. “Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts.” Accessed May 2015.
- Anton Health and Nutrition. “Homemade Nut Butter.“
- Radiant Life Company. “That’s Nuts! A Complete Guide to Soaking Nuts and Seeds.”