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The 10 Healthiest Foods: Brazil Nuts

By: Caley Walsh

Brazil nuts are easily identified in mixed nuts as the largest of the bunch. While many Americans come across brazil nuts this way, nutritionists believe you should incorporate more into your diet for their fantastic health benefits, as a recent ABC survey showed. Learn about the health benefits of brazil nuts and how to make pesto with brazil nuts.

Healthy Brazil Nuts Unshelled

Brazil nuts are actually edible seeds, best enjoyed unsalted for health benefits. You can purchase raw nuts in the shell and boil to soften the shells or purchase dry roasted. Since brazil nuts contain high amounts of fat (though the fats are healthy “unsaturated), limit consumption of brazil nuts to three times/week. One serving of brazil nuts is around eight medium-sized nuts.

Here are some of the health benefits of brazil nuts:

  • Selenium- Brazil nuts are especially rich in selenium, which helps your body use the protein found in nuts. This makes them an especially good source of protein for vegetarians. Selenium helps support the immune system and is a very powerful antioxidant. In a recent study, brazil nuts were found to help prevent breast cancer. Selenium is also associated with prostate health.

Keep in mind that unshelled nuts contain four times the amount of selenium. You will have to boil the shells to soften.

  • Magnesium- Brazil nuts are rich in magnesium, which is important to nerve and muscle function.
  • Zinc- The zinc in brazil nuts help strengthen the immune system, as the numerous zinc cold remedies available at your local pharmacy attest.
  • Vitamin E- Vitamin E, found in brazil nuts, is an important contributor to heart health.

Brazil-Nut Pesto

While traditionally pine nuts are used to make pesto, you can substitute the healthy brazil nut for increased health benefits. Toss pesto with whole-wheat pasta, spread over grilled fish or use to top toasted bread or pizza. Pesto is also fantastic tossed with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese for a twist on caprese salad.


  • 1 C. fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, depending on taste
  • ¼ C. brazil nuts
  • ½ C. olive oil
  • ½ C. parmesan (optional)


Combine all dry ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Slowly add olive oil until paste is formed.

The Next Top 10 Super-Food: Edamame

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