A daily dose of
fibers, vitamins and minerals are not the only reasons you should consume nuts!
Just a few nuts in your daily diet can boost your general health and
The creamy Brazil
nut which is actually a seed, is high in calories, but packed with loads of
health benefits such as vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Most of the health
benefits of Brazil nuts
are due to its selenium content. Selenium
(Se) is a mineral known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,
shielding our body from the harmful effects of free radicals, thus protecting
us against many cardiovascular diseases.
Brazil nuts are also rich in protein
and fiber, which help control
hunger and lose weight. It also plays an important role in the proper
functioning of the thyroid gland.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS)
production is part of the human metabolism process which is taken care of by
the antioxidant system of the body. Lipoxygenases are responsible for
catalyzing the oxygen incorporation in polyunsaturated fatty acids
considered a main production source of ROS. Increase
in ROS vascular production could be a risk factor for atherosclerosis
have demonstrated that hypertension is not only associated with increase in
oxidative stress, but is also a major risk factor for peripheral artery disease
myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, amongst
others. Increase in oxidative stress is also linked to hyperlipidemia.
A study was
undertaken to evaluate the beneficial effects of the various bioactive
compounds in Brazil nut on hypertensive
and dyslipidemic patients. One hundred and twenty five hypertensive and dyslipidemic patients were included in the randomized,
placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial after
a thorough screening process at the Clinic of Atherosclerosis and
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention of the National Institute of Cardiology, Rio
de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.
Patients were given 13 gms per day (~227.5 μg/day of selenium) of partially defatted granulated Brazil nut or 10 gms
daily of placebo for a period of twelve weeks with a 4 week wash out interval.
Granulated Brazil nut was preferred over Brazil nut kernel, since it has high
Se content comparatively.
Only 91 patients
reportedly completed the study and it was found that a larger part of this study group was elderly population
(about 57.1 %). At baseline, anthropometric,
laboratory and clinic characteristics were evaluated. At the beginning and end of
each intervention, plasma
selenium (Se), plasma glutathione peroxidase (GPx3) activity, total antioxidant
capacity (TAC), oxidized LDL levels were also measured.
No change was found in
anthropometric and clinical parameters after 12 weeks of placebo and Brazil nut
dietary interventions, as the diets were similar at the beginning or the ending
The study also revealed a
significant increase in HDL-c in both intervention groups (diet + placebo
group: 38.96 ± 13.30 to 41.17 ± 12.82; p < 0.05 and diet + granulated Brazil
nut group: 38.66 ± 11.91 to 40.82 ± 14.73; p < 0.05). An overall increase in
plasma selenium concentrations were also observed in patients taking Brazil
nuts by 119%, however part of it could be due to the carry over effect after
the wash out period.
An increase in GPx3 activity by 24.8% was observed in
granulated Brail nut group along with a modest reduction in oxidized LDL by
3.2%. However for total plasma antioxidant capacity and 8-epi PGF2α, no
statistical difference was found in the two groups.
An inverse relationship was seen between GPx3 and
oxidized LDL levels after supplementation with GBN by using a simple model (β
= 0.032) and after the adjustment was done for the
following factors: gender, age, diabetes and BMI (β -0.298, p
The present study showed that the
partially defatted granulated Brazil nut (13 g/day, providing
227.5 μg selenium) in a serum lipid and blood pressure reduction diet
for dyslipidemic and hypertensive patients, increased antioxidant status and
reduced oxidative stress. Thus, granulated Brazil nut can be recommended as
part of a healthy diet for the heart, since it has the potential to increase
plasma selenium, increase enzymatic antioxidant activity of GPx3 and to reduce
oxidation in LDL in hypertensive and dyslipidemic patients.
The study had some limitations such
as a relative short intervention period, heterogeneity of the patient
population and also the carry-over effect with respect to the plasma selenium