Why I Eat a Brazil Nut (Nearly) Every Day

Ω February 21st, 2010 Ω Tagged , , , , , , , , , , Ω 32 Comments

Why? You’ll see! :)

First of all, this morning I woke up super-early and ready for a heart-pounding workout on the treadmill. I jogged outside to the apartment complex gym, only to discover that someone was already there watching the TV. I find it very difficult to listen to music when someone else is watching a very loud TV, so I kept on running! It was probably about 25 degrees outside and sunny, so it wasn’t bad at all. I ran four miles and felt fabulous! I listened to music by Keali’i Reichel while running. Doesn’t Hawai’ian music make you think of palm trees and warm breezes? Warmed me right up! This and this are two of my favorite songs.

I hadn’t brought gloves, so my hands were freezing for the first part of the run. I was also wearing my cotton down-type jacket that I use to go to the gym, so I must have looked a little odd running on the sidewalk.

Holy sun halo!

Breakfast was the usual: creamy banana oatmeal with blueberries, flax, wattleseed, and Saratoga peanut butter.

Lunch was leftover Bouillabaisse and salad with goat cheddar and Annie’s Goddess dressing.

For a good portion of the morning and afternoon I worked on my childhood obesity research paper, and now I’m halfway done! Awesome!

Peter made dinner again, a Tyler Florence lasagna recipe. He slow-cooked the tomato sauce over the course of the afternoon so it was rich and sweet.

The master chef at work.

Peter wanted me to point out to you guys that he’s wearing his tomato sauce shirt. This man is prepared!

Ready to go in the oven:

Pipin’ hot!

Peter made my half with whole grain lasagna noodles. I’m still trying to convert him over to whole grain everything ;)

Once we freeze most of it, this lasagna will make leftovers for a long time. Batch-cooking is a real time saver!

So, why do I eat a Brazil nut (nearly) every day? Because, Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium, a micronutrient essential to a number of processes in your body. This trace mineral is used in your immune system and in thyroid function. Selenium is also a potent antioxidant, and levels of selenium in food is soil-dependent. More info on selenium can be found here and here.

Before I get into this quick discussion, I want to stress that my intention is not to single out one nutrient in one food. I strongly advocate the whole foods approach (rather than supplements) practiced for hundreds of thousands of years and brought to recent public notice by Michael Pollan and others. I incorporate Brazil nuts as part of my diet because I enjoy them, rather than treating them as a supplement. I present this information out of interest in nutrition, not as an order to go eat Brazil nuts!

Anyhoo, in terms of antioxidant properties, research suggests that a diet adequate in selenium can reduce cancer risk. More research needs to be done in this area, of course.  I’m interested to see what new findings emerge in the next few years.

The RDA for selenium for adults 19 and older is 55 micrograms per day – a tiny amount! An ounce of Brazil nuts has over 500 micrograms, so just ONE nut will cover you for the day. Since the tolerable upper limit is 400 micrograms, be careful not to overdose. Here are some other sources of selenium (Allie, this list is for you!):


[source]

So, the take-home message is: whole foods are good for you, and selenium-rich foods can be a healthful part of anyone’s diet.

How about you?  What do you think about the “whole foods” approach?

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» Filed under Nutrition Info » 32 Comments

32 Responses to “Why I Eat a Brazil Nut (Nearly) Every Day”

  • homecookedem says:

    MMMmmmmm, that lasagna looks so good!!

    Interesting info on brazil nuts. I had no idea! Whole foods are definitely the way to go. I’m still working on weeding out processed foods, but I’ve come a long way! :)

  • Lucy says:

    Mmm, lasagna is so comforting! It’s so much more fun and uplifting to exercise outdoors…I played tennis this morning even though I’m back in Canada and was expecting oodles of rain – sunshine is much better :) I completely agree on the whole foods approach, especially since everything in nature is so intricate and delicately balanced, there’s no way we can just isolate nutrients and fiddle around with them to get the same health benefits. Yay whole foods :)

    • Jessie says:

      Great point about the intricacy of nature – we may think of foods in terms of the nutrients they can give us (like I did above), but nature gives us whole foods, not supplements :)

    • Dice says:

      “Whole foods” (as opposed to supplements) are preferable today because there’s so much we still don’t know about nutrition and the interaction of foods and our body. But the notion that some commenters here hold about the “balance of nature” is, as I’m sure you’re aware, hokum. The foods we eat today and our relation to them came about through eons of co-evolution (humans who didn’t adapt as well to the foods we could hunt/kill/harvest had fewer offspring), and plants were engineered by humans over time (cultivating the most human-friendly strains) to be more nutritious. In a “state of nature” plants would evolve toxins to kill us, as they certainly wouldn’t be “designed” genetically to be eaten by us. Once we have a completel understanding of our biology and what inputs we need to keep us healthy, we may be able to chemically engineer the best food from scratch.

  • Beautiful lasagna! Way to go Peter!
    And I completely agree with the notion of eating whole foods. I take a daily multivitamin but I know that the vitamins and minerals I consume from food are the best sources for my body. Great info on Selenium! Thanks! Have a wonderful day!!

  • katie says:

    wow so interesting about the brazil nut! thank you for sharing girl!! i agree with you about whole foods-soo good for the body.

  • I had no idea about brazil nuts, they are one of my favorite snacks. In fact, I have a bag I keep in my desk at work. Thanks for sharing this great info!

  • I definitely agree with you regarding the “whole foods” approach. Sometimes people think just cause they take supplements, they can eat unhealhty. I still think you will benefit most from eating the actual foods containing those nutrients.
    The lasagna looks amazing!

  • Lu says:

    I love Brazil nuts. They are my favorite. I call “dibs” the minute the mixed nuts make an appearance. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I think the whole food approach is great. It is so important nowadays to focus on eating healthy whole foods instead of processed foods.

  • That lasagna looks soo yummy! I usually make a smaller one for me and J, but the last time I made a huge one and did the batch thing. I was able to freeze individual portions for us to have for dinner or lunches! It’s cool to know there’s a bunch of ready-to-eat meals all packed away stress free!!

    I should make J wear a tomato sauce shirt. He spills almost every night. Thankfully by the time we eat dinner he’s already changed into a grungy shirt.

  • Anne-Marie says:

    I love Michael Pollan! The way he shares information and the loads of research he does it really informative and trustworthy. Great blog! I really like the whole health + food approach.

  • Nicole, RD says:

    Haha, I love that he had his “tomato sauce” shirt on. Wise, wise man! I always end up staining something I love…that’s white, naturally! ;)

    I love the Brazil nut a day idea! I’m all about “whole foods” — I actually ranted about this today some, haha!

    Have a super day, hun!

  • One Brazil nut has all the selenium you need in a day! How perfect it that.
    My favourite way to eat one is stuffed inside a pitted Medjool date. :d

  • Simply Life says:

    great looking meals!

  • I’ve got to admit that I’ve never tried Brazil nuts! I’ve been wanting too, though…especially because I’m NUTS about nuts. Duh, that was so cheesy :P I can’t believe just one nut has that much selenium…

  • Maria says:

    Wow, one Brazil nut will get all your daily selenium requirements? Awesome! Thanks for the info :)

    p.s. I just found your blog today and love it! I especially envy your hubby’s awesome cooking, all the cool tips and recipes, and your willingness to follow your passions (this is what caught my eye-I am a grad student in engineering, not sure if I’m in the right place)!

  • Troy Omafray says:

    Good post. Thanks for your writing. I’ve read Pollan as well and agree with the whole foods approach to getting my nutrition.

  • […] have varying levels of selenium in the soil, and thus different levels of selenium in crops (see my selenium post). * Could out-of-sync biological clocks (like the internal clock that controls your sleep cycle) […]

  • […] this phrase appeared countless times. I hope the searchers found the information they wanted in my Brazil nut post. I’ve also received the most emails about this post. Maybe people REALLY like Brazil nuts? * […]

  • […] Yogurt, 1/2 sliced banana, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds. Coffee with about 1 tablespoon skim milk (plus another swig of milk for good measure). Missing: one Brazil nut. […]

  • Kaloyan says:

    Guys, Brazil nuts are magic, but please note that it can be dangerous if you eat a lot of this food – specialists say that a daily portion of 2-3 nuts is a normal quote in view of its content of Radium.

    • Jessie says:

      Thanks for your comment! As with many foods, moderation is key. I don’t recommend eating a handful of Brazil nuts every day :)

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