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One Major Effect of Eating Brazil Nuts, Says Dietitian

If you want to get healthier, it's time to add these petite powerhouses to your routine.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts are frequent additions to snack mixes, salads, and desserts, Brazil nuts rarely get the same appreciation—but they should. While they may, quite literally, be a tough nut to crack, there's plenty to love beneath that hard exterior.

Not only are they delicious and filling, but Brazil nuts also have a long list of benefits for your health. According to Amy Richter, MS, RDN, founder of The Acne Dietitian, Brazil nuts should be your go-to snack if you're eager to improve your immune health.

RELATED: The #1 Worst Nut to Snack On, Says Dietitian

"Just a single Brazil nut provides almost twice the daily recommended amount of selenium, a mineral that helps transform inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into active thyroid hormone (T3) and protects the thyroid against oxidative stress," explains Richter.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that, among a group of 6,152 study subjects living in China's Shaanxi Province, higher levels of dietary selenium were associated with a lower risk of autoimmune thyroiditis, enlarged thyroid, hypothyroidism, and subclinical hypothyroidism. In fact, researchers found that individuals living in counties where overall selenium intake was low were 69% more likely to develop thyroid health issues.

What's more, a 2014 study published in Clinical Thyroidology for the Public found that, among individuals with autoimmune condition Graves' disease, in which the body overproduces thyroid hormones, those who subsequently developed thyroid eye disease had much lower levels of selenium in their blood than those who didn't develop the condition.

Are there any downsides to consuming selenium?

While adding Brazil nuts to your diet may benefit your thyroid health, it's important to keep an eye on how many you're consuming in a day, especially if you're also taking supplements that contain selenium.

"Brazil nuts contain very high amounts of selenium—68 to 91 micrograms per nut—and could cause selenium toxicity if too many are consumed regularly," says Danielle Gaffen, MS, RDN, LD, of Eat Well Crohn's Colitis.

"Acute selenium toxicity can cause many symptoms, including hair loss, muscle tenderness, gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms, lightheadedness, facial flushing, cardiac and kidney issues, and more," Gaffen explains.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended daily dose of selenium for non-pregnant or lactating individuals aged 14 and over is just 55 micrograms, meaning one ounce of Brazil nuts (6 nuts) packs 989% of what you should consume in a day.

So, go ahead and enjoy some tasty Brazil nuts when the mood strikes—just make sure you're keeping moderation in mind when you do.

For more reasons to go nuts for nuts, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Nuts, Says Expert, and for the latest healthy eating news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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