Superfoods would be interesting topic. I know many people hate the word "superfood", but its the best way to describe these. This time I want to
talk about Brazil nut, also known as Para nut.
Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is a South American tree in the family of Lecythidaceae. The tree and nut are both called Brazil nut (weird isn't
it?). Its relatives are blueberries, cranberries and gooseberries. It grows all over the South America. The tree is rather large, can reach 50 m high
and trunk can be 1-2 m in diameter.
Interesting fact: In Brazil, its illegal to cut down Brazil nut tree, that is the reason its often found from everywhere, in the wild and people's
backyards. The nuts are very heavy and there is even one death case where person died when nut fell on his head.
Now the interesting parts: The nut is really "superfood". Its very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. Its good source of Magnesium, Phosphorus and
Copper. But its most important nutrient in Selenium, in fact its the best Selenium source known to man. In fact none of the other foods reach even
near to its Selenium content. The Selenium content makes this "superfood", but there is also negative side (as always). Because the Selenium content
is so high (100 grams of Brazil Nuts contain 3485% (1917 µg) of recommended daily intake of Selenium)
, there is risk of Selenium poisoning.
Even 1 nut per day is twice the recommended daily intake. But its perfectly safe to eat around 4 per day, but any more than that could be harmful.
And what does Selenium do? Its very important nutrient for our health. It acts as antioxidant, preventing the damages of free radicals. It also boosts
immune system, helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and prevents different cancers. Its also very important for thyroid gland. Another
interesting thing is that Selenium has high binding affinity towards Mercury, which basically means Selenium tries to bind with Mercury, forming new
substance. This Bis(methylmercuric) selenide isn't as harmful as Mercury or Methylmercury. It has been suggested that eating fish isn't harmful even
though it contains Methylmercury, as they contain Selenium, which cancels the harmful effects. There is definitely connection between Mercury and
Selenium, but its still mystery how it affects. It may mobilize the Mercury and even chelate it.
There is some side effects of eating Brazil nuts too: Overdose of Selenium can lead to bad breath, fever, nausea, and liver, kidney and heart
problems. It could even lead to death if taken too much. It can cause stomach problems and vomiting too. It has also been associated with increased
risk of skin cancers. Brazil Nuts can contain aflatoxins which are carcinogenic, so EU has placed strict restrictions for imports. They also can
contain thousands of times more Radium than other foods because the deep roots of tree, but still in safe levels.
So in conclusion, 2-4 Brazil Nuts in a day is good for your health. Eating too many can be dangerous because of the Selenium overdose. Production is
mostly organic so you don't have to fear nasty poisons. They fight against the harmful effects of Mercury.