So useful and crafty Brazil nut

In the forests of the Amazon, with their moist hot climate, found many wonderful plants, one of them is High Bertoletti, better known as the Brazil nut. Bertoletti plant was named in honor of French scientist Claude Louis Berthollet. But a second name, more famous for us, the tree has because of very interesting nuts which grow on it.

In the sixteenth century, during the conquest of the South American continent, the Portuguese and Spanish explorers discovered the large and tasty nuts. They called them in Spanish almendras (almonds). Nutritious, well-stored nuts became the products of choice for sailors at sea voyages.

With the time, in different countries there were at once a several names of tropical nuts: Brazilian, American, cream nuts and even chestnuts from Para (state in the north of Brazil).
Brazil nuts are mainly distributed in the Latin American region: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana and eastern Colombia. Today, the largest exporter of Brazil nuts is Bolivia. The percentage of common amount collected nuts is 50%.

How delicate orchids helps to survive huge giants

Actually, the large nuts are seeds of huge trees. Their height can reach 45-50 meters, and the trunk diameter of some of the giants is two meters. Bertoletti huge trees can live up to 500 years old. However, the experts are talking about 1000 years old exemplars.

Also, these giants are very demanding to the conditions of reproduction, and the residents of tropical foresters are helping them with this. High bertoletti pollinated by bumblebees and other large bees, so-called the orchid bees. The fact that Brazil nut flowers have a very complicated form – they cleverly woven in the form of a hood, find the ones way there can only the long proboscis of the orchid bees. The male bees with a long proboscis are flying to aroma of blooming orchids and, in turn, attracting the females, which pollinate the flowers of Brazil nut.
So, a cooperation of bees, orchids and the tree of Brazil nut are necessary to arise an exotic nut. And if one link in the chain will be missed, the biological species will not be saved.

That’s why Bertoletti can’t be grown successfully on plantations till now. The trees produce greater harvest in the wild nature. The human presence scares the bees and the bumblebees. As a result, the trees don’t produce enough and nut breeding becomes uneconomical.
But, if pollination has occurred, after 14 months the chaplets of fetuses (large boxes up to 15 cm in diameter) are twine about the huge tree trunks. Outwardly they look like a coconut with the same hard rind. The nuts are hidden inside. Usually, there are 10 to 24 large triangular grains in the box. Each grain has length about 4 cm. The shear of Brazil nut looks like an orange.

Then the rodents continue the work

After the boxes with nuts matured, they fall on the ground. But the hard rind doesn’t crack. The rind need to saw to remove the nuts. So, how to make this in the wild nature? The monkeys open nuts with stones, but it is not relevant to reproduction of Bertoletti. The large rodents named “agouti” from Amazonian foresters are helping to reproduce Brazil nuts. Through a small hole in the rind of nut they eat the nuts from inside. But, like all rodents, agouti hides some nuts “in reserve”. Simply, they put them into the ground and then, as usual, forget about them. So, from these hidden nuts sprout new shoots of walnut trees. The interesting thing is that in the shaded areas the shoots die down and dormant can wait for the sun for years.

The nut of youth and longevity

People mostly use only nuts of Bertoletti. The tree has an excellent quality wood: firm and dense, it is well polished and easy to any machining. However, due to difficult cultivation of Brazil nut and it endangered, in countries exporting nuts unauthorized wood production is illegal.
In grains of Brasil nut there are a lot of useful for the body: selenium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron, manganese, sodium, vitamins B, vitamins C, A, E so necessary for normal cell metabolism and high content of protein and fiber. Useful substances of nuts improve metabolism, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the level of blood sugar.

In Brazil nuts compared to their other counterparts the highest fat content, but it does not need to be frightened. They contain unsaturated fatty acids help to reduce level of “bad cholesterol”, preventing coronary artery disease and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, improving the functioning of the brain and disease prevention. Along with almonds and pine nuts Brazil nuts contain no gluten. This is a good alternative for people allergic to wheat products. But the main feature of Brazil nuts is a record high content of selenium – mineral youth and longevity, because selenium is a component of enzymes that protect our cells from aging. Just two Brazilian nuts contain the daily rate of selenium. And one nut per day enough for children to grow and develop better.

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Some scientific studies show that selenium helps prevent cancer, reducing the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. The medicine uses the extract of Brazil nuts, which improves blood clotting and its quality. In motherland of Brazil nuts, in countries of Latin America, Brazil nuts are also called “love nut” because of its beneficial effects on human reproduction. Eating of Brazil nuts helps to cure infertility and prevents early menopause and menopause complications. Nuts are useful also for men: they contain the amino acid “arginine” which promotes sexual activity and stimulate the production of sperm.

Till now Brazil nut is not a frequent guest at our table. It is used in food separately raw or dried, as a snack. Good to dry nuts before eating, in the oven or in fry pan. Coarsely chopped nuts add to salads, sprinkle an ice cream and fruit cakes. Chopped nuts are also used as fillers for baking, desserts, chocolate production.

Using of Brazil nut oil

Usually Brazil nut oil is obtained by cold pressing, that’s why it keeps the most useful properties of nuts. The oil uses as salad dressings, in salads, in sauces and as a usual vegetable oil. Brazil nut oil has also an unusual use as watch lubricant and component in the manufacture of decorative paints.

However, mostly Brazil nut oil use in cosmetology. It has an excellent moisturizing, nourishing, and softening skin properties, helps heal damaged skin and in the treatment of skin diseases. Penetrating into the pores of the skin, the oil creates protective layer, not allowing moisture to evaporate and protects the skin from external influences. Many manufacturers of cosmetics include Brazil nut oil in their products.

As hair care Brazil nut oil is very good in masks, shampoos and balms. For skin care and hair care the oil can be mixed with other vegetable oil as almond, jojoba, grape seed oil and etc. The way of oil home use as wet linen napkins in warm Brazil nut oil and apply to clean skin for 10-15 minutes.

The craftiness of Brazil nut

However, Brazil nut with its excellent properties can cause serious harm to the body by careless use. Besides the possibility of allergic reactions, danger of Brazil nuts is the high content of selenium, which it is so highly valued. An overdose of selenium can cause intoxication: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, emotional disturbances. So, don’t eat too much Brazil nuts: 1-2 nuts per day are enough.

Another reason of careful position to Brazil nuts is the content of radioactive substances – barium and radium. Although these substances in the nuts quite a bit, but at the same time, the content of radium is a thousand times more than other foods.

The European Union has strong rules for the import of Brazil nuts because of the high level of aflatoxins in the nut rind, contributing to development of liver cancer. Each part of nut rind is removing and testing for aflatoxin content and if necessary the import can be limited.
But even if the nuts are pretty good, should be aware about high calorie content – 100 g of nuts contain about 700 kcal.

How to choose and store Brazil nuts

Better to buy Brazil nuts in vacuum packaging. Need to ensure that the nuts are free of mold and had no rancid odor. The good nuts should be crunchy.

Due to the high level of fat, Brazil nuts are quite perishable product. In an open container, they quickly become rancid and absorb odors. That’s why the nuts should be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container, but not more than three months and in the freezer – no longer than six months.

Brazil nut, like no other, confirms the well-known phrase of Paracelsus: “Everything is a poison and everything is a medicine. Just the dosage makes from the poison medicine and from the medicine poison”. Be careful and Brazil nuts can help you stay healthy for many years.

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