The power in a Brazil nut

A study was released in the British journal GUT on July 23, 2012 that concluded that people who have a high intake of selenium, Vitamin C and Vitamin E in their diets have a 67% lower risk of pancreatic cancer than people with a poor intake of these nutrients. This is significant, since pancreatic cancer is one of the worst as far as cure rates, so anything that can be done to lower the risk, the better.

Much research has been performed in the past couple decades to try to find foods or supplements that might help prevent cancer, and the results from the supplement studies have often been disappointing and conflicting—for example, one study shows that a certain vitamin decreases the chances of a certain cancer but the next study says the opposite.

But many scientists believe that nutrients obtained from foods could be much more protective than the nutrients obtained from vitamin pills and other supplements. Today lets look just at one substance from the pancreas cancer study: selenium. Selenium is believed to protect the body from cancer, but the studies from selenium taken as a pill have generally disappointing. So let’s look at a natural source of this mineral.

Brazil nuts are the most concentrated single source of selenium in any food source. Selenium is a trace mineral that is toxic to the body in large quantities, but is necessary in small amounts for the proper functioning of our cells. Selenium is known to stimulate the formation of anti-oxidants in the human body, and anti-oxidants help prevent normal cells from turning into cancerous cells, so it is not surprising that the GUT pancreas cancer study showed good results from diets high in selenium.

Besides being high in selenium, Brazil nuts have other attractive nutritional characteristics. They are considered a “complete protein”, as they contain all the essential amino acids; most other protein sources do not. The nuts are high in magnesium, an important nutrient which works with calcium to help avoid osteoporosis.

Ninety-one percent of the calories in Brazil nuts come from the fats in the nuts, a combination of mono-saturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated. The mono-saturated type is a “healthy fat”, good for your heart (like the fat in olive oils), and Brazil nuts are a good source of this fat. However, since the nuts also contain the unhealthy saturated variety too, it’s good to limit your intake!

Another reason to limit your intake of Brazil nuts is that if you eat too many, you can overdose on the selenium, which can be toxic. A little bit is great, too much, bad! So what’s the right “dose” of Brazil nuts to maximize the health benefits?

While the amount of selenium in Brazil nuts can vary (depending on the soil where they are grown), one or two Brazil nuts a day is felt to be the optimal amount to get the right amount, hopefully an anti-cancer dose, of selenium in your diet. More than three a day is considered too much, and if you have serious health issues, such as a family or personal history of breast or prostate cancer, talk to your doctor first! Otherwise, enjoy your nuts, in moderation!

Should you need a doctor in Brazil, you can easily find one on our main website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

*Oligoelementos e o risco de câncer de pâncreas


















Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)