Brazil nuts: nutritional benefits from a unique combination of antioxidants
Brazil nut is the seed of the Bertholletia excelsa tree, which grows naturally in the rainforests of South America. The production chain is environmentally sustainable as seeds are collected from the hard-shelled indehiscent fruits as they fall on the forest floor, without the need of deforestation. Brazil nut is among the most popular and commercially important tree nuts, and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease among other health benefits have been related to their consumption. A high content of both soluble and bound phenolic antioxidants, especially in the brown skin of the kernel, partly explains this positive health effect together with a high content of oleic acid and linoleic acid. The ω-3/ω-6 is less favorable, but the relatively high content of delta-tocopherol for a tree nut and the highest selenium (Se) level among all foods warrant other health benefits such as antioxidant activity and anticancer effects. Se levels in Brazil nuts vary strongly depending on origin, and recommendations for their safe consumption should be made and added in food labels in order to avoid selenosis.