We know selenium benefits are enormous, but it’s often hard to get selenium in your everyday diet. Brazil nuts are the No. 1 food source on the planet for this chemical element. Enjoying just one to two Brazil nuts per day can be all you need and even work better than a supplement to maintain a healthy level of selenium in your body. Selenium is crucial to many bodily functions from mood to inflammation.
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The Top Selenium Food that Fights Inflammation.
Brazil nuts are commonly eaten raw or blanched and are high in protein, fiber, selenium, thiamine, copper and magnesium — and in addition to being the best selenium food source in the world, they provide numerous benefits for our health.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are great for inflammatory issues in the body because they’re tremendous anti-inflammatory foods. Brazil nuts, as do most nuts, contain ellagic acid. Why is this important? Ellagic acid has high anti-inflammatory properties in the body and can even be neuroprotective.
Another important anti-inflammatory agent in Brazil nuts is selenium, which is hugely important when combating inflammation in the body. Selenium takes part in antioxidant activity that defends against both free radical damage and inflammation. A 2012 study found that just one Brazil nut per day is able to improve anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the body. In the study, 45 patients received one nut a day for three months. After three months of eating on Brazil nut per day, not only did the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses improve, but cholesterol levels improved as well.
Brazil nuts are also on the list of cancer-fighting foods, again due to their high ellagic acid and selenium levels. Ellagic acid is also antimutagenic and anticancer.
Meanwhile, selenium, an essential biological trace element, has been shown to reduce and prevent the incidence of cancer. A five-year, randomized nutritional intervention study took place in China where esophageal cancer rates are extremely high and selenium intake is low. The results, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found highly significant inverse associations of serum selenium levels with the incidence of esophageal cancer.
Many health professionals believe and some studies have shown a possible link between having toxic levels of mercury in the body and cancer incidence. Some animal studies show that the selenium can help reduce toxic mercury levels, which can further help fight cancer.
3. Mood Lifter
As mentioned, the No. 1 food source on the planet for selenium is brazil nuts. Selenium has been scientifically proven to lift mood and prevent depression. One study conducted by the Swansea University Department of Psychology in Wales and published in Biological Psychiatry examined selenium’s effects on depression, anxiety and mood. This double-blind study examined 50 volunteers who were given a placebo or 100 micrograms of selenium on a daily basis, and three times throughout the five weeks they filled out a “Profile of Moods Stats” questionnaire.
Results showed that the lower the level of selenium in the diet, the more reports of anxiety, depression and tiredness, all of which were decreased following five weeks of selenium therapy.
When it comes to a good mood, serotonin is a key player. Not only does this feel-good brain chemical help regulate mood, but it can also have positive effects on your sleep and appetite. Researchers from the University of Barcelona found that people had higher levels of serotonin metabolites after nut consumption, which included brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts.
All of this points to Brazil nuts making an excellent addition to any depression diet treatment plan to help improve mood and well-being.
4. Heart Health Booster
In small amounts, Brazil nuts can provide a healthy boost to one of your most important organs — your heart. The unsaturated fats, soluble fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients present in nuts are all helpful for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, which has a direct positive effect on heart health.
Brazil nuts are naturally high in fat, but most of that fat is the health-boosting unsaturated kind. The unsaturated fats in Brazil nuts can increase your HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). A healthy level of HDL cholesterol can protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
5. Thyroid Control
Your thyroid helps control your metabolism, heart rate and body temperature. The thyroid gland has more selenium content per gram of tissue than any other organ in your body. Selenium is a key component of the molecules that are necessary for your body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones. The selenium in Brazil nuts can help to keep your thyroid in proper working order and in overall good health .
Research now shows, through numerous studies, that there is a link between thyroid metabolism and selenium deficiency. Selenium acts as a catalyst for the production of active thyroid hormones. A 2015 Brazilian study found that people with reduced levels of the thyroid hormone T3 were able to increase their selenium levels via Brazil nut supplementation, which was associated with improvement in thyroid hormone levels in the patients with reduced T3 levels.
Overall, selenium from Brazil nuts acts as a powerful protector of the thyroid and regulates the production of reactive oxygen within the gland, and it protects the body from antibodies that can create thyroid disease. Thus, the Brazil nut can act as a natural remedy for thyroid health, thanks mostly to its selenium content.