Food doesn’t get much more exotic than this. The Brazil nut is not really a nut, but a seed from an amazing South American tree that grows in clusters along the banks of the Amazon. One of the largest trees in a region where most of the trees are impressive, it can reach 150 feet tall with a trunk as wide as 6.5 feet in diameter. Experts believe these trees can live to an age of 1000 years.
This spectacular species requires a super-sized bee to negotiate and pollinate its unique flowers, which are long, coiled, and hooded. These bees in turn require a rare jungle orchid to attract their very discriminating mates and complete their life cycle.
This is a food that cannot be cultivated. Brazil nuts must be retrieved by hand from the forest, and overharvesting is a problem. If all the seeds are taken from a tree, obviously, there will be no new trees. Nonetheless, when harvested sustainably, this is a rainforest product that does not require complete destruction of the forest and can benefit local people.
Brazil nut nutrition
This “nut” is one of the highest known sources of selenium, an important anti-oxidant. It contains so much selenium that you should limit your intake to a few nuts per day, so as not to overdo it. One ounce, that is about 6 kernels, contains 774% of the daily value for selenium!
Brazil nuts are also high in healthy fats, protein, thiamin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese. The glycemic load is zero and they are quite anti-inflammatory. The protein profile is incomplete, with lysine as the limiting amino acid.
So, how do you get Brazil nuts into your diet? Just enjoy them as they are. I sometimes eat one or two whole, raw Brazil nuts with a cup of herbal tea or soy cocoa in the morning, and I try to remember to be grateful. They’ve come a long way, and each one holds inside itself an ancient rainforest tree.
© Copyright 2011, Laura J. Rongé, Ciel Bleu Media, healthiveg.com. All rights reserved. Disclaimer. This article is not intended as medical, nutritional, or other professional advice.