If you’re already a patient of mine you’ll know that I absolutely love brazil nuts. They are a true superfood due to their high selenium content, a trace element your body needs in order to thrive. Most vitamins and nutrients are shown to be effective when taken in relatively high doses. This means that if you want to achieve therapeutic levels of vitamins, minerals or antioxidants you would typically need take them in supplement form in addition to a healthy diet. Brazil nuts are a favourite recommendation of mine because they’re one of the few foods that contain a functional dose of key nutrients in a relatively tiny dose. Depending on their size, a serving of 3 – 5 nuts has around 200mcg of selenium, which is the dose that has been shown to support thyroid health, promote detoxification and even prevent certain cancers. Here are a few of the ways that munching on brazil nuts can promote great health:
- Brazil nuts are a great source of the antioxidant selenium, which has been shown to inhibit the inflammatory 5-LOX pathway. 5-LOX is responsible for increased inflammatory response and is even implicated in skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema.
- Brazil nuts increase cellular levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that is extremely important in liver detoxification. Glutathione also plays a role in maintaining thyroid health due to the high expression of glutathione found in the thyroid gland.
- This antioxidant can also improve fertility: selenium has been shown to improve sperm count in a dose of 100-200mcg per day.
- Selenium may even play a role in stress reduction and modulation of the HPA-axis since it’s a cofactor in cortisol (stress hormone) metabolism.
- Dietary selenium intake has been shown to reduce the instance of prostate, breast, lung and liver cancers.
I also frequently prescribe a daily brazil nut snack to my patients with a low functioning thyroid. A recent study found that 200mcg of selenium leads to a 60% reduction in TPO levels. This is good news for patients suffering with low thyroid symptoms since TPO is an antibody that causes your immune system to attack your own thyroid tissue leading to autoimmune thyroid disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Higher selenium dosing of 500mcg daily also increases conversion of thyroid precursor hormone T4 to the more metabolically active form T3, which supports a healthy metabolism and energy production. When your conventional medical doctor prescribes thyroid medication they are typically giving you oral T4 and assuming that your body will have all of the nutrients and cofactors required to convert it to active T3. Ingesting a daily dose of selenium from brazil nuts can support this pathway to help you feel better on your current thyroid medications.
Now that you’re ready to head to your local health food store and grab a bag of nuts I thought I’d share my new favourite brazil nut recipe. I whip up batch of these delicious antioxidant rich treats whenever I’m tired of munching on plain brazil nuts:
Chocolate Covered Brazil Nuts
My favourite new treat: thyroid super food brazil nuts dipped in antioxidant-rich chocolate. Enjoy 3 - 4 nuts to get your daily dose of selenium.
- 1 cup organic brazil nuts
- 1 dark chocolate bar (70% or higher)
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- Sea salt
- 1 tbs hemp seeds
- 1 tbs unsweetened coconut flakes
Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil on medium heat in a double broiler (I simply use a metal bowl placed on a small pot of boiling water). Dip the brazil nuts into the chocolate mixture then set on a parchment lined plate or tray to dry. Top with hemp seeds, sea salt & coconut flakes and store in the fridge for 30 minutes to harden before serving. These keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.