(Health Secrets) Rich, creamy Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium, the mineral that works with zinc to prevent breast cancer. A recent study at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that eating just two Brazil nuts a day is as effective in increasing selenium and boosting glutathione as taking a selenium supplement. And eating Brazil nuts brings many other benefits not found in selenium supplements.
Researchers investigated the ability of Brazil nuts to increase selenium compared to that of selenomethionine, believed to be the preferred supplement because of its high bioavailability. A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 59 New Zealand adults. Participants consumed two Brazil nuts daily, a selenomethionine supplement, or a placebo. Plasma selenium and plasma and whole blood glutathione levels were measured at baseline and at intervals following treatment. Changes in plasma selenium and glutathione activity in the Brazil nut and selenomethionine groups differed significantly from the placebo group but not from each other. The change in whole blood glutathione activity was greater in the Brazil nut group than in both the placebo and selenomethionine groups.
Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential to good health but required only in small amounts. It is used in creating glutathione, a family of important antioxidant enzymes in the body that help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Free radicals are nasty little aggressive compounds that occur as natural by-products of oxygen metabolism and wreak havoc in the body. Free radicals are believed to contribute to the development of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease, and they speed the aging process.
Selenium is also critical for proper thyroid function and plays a role in immune system function. Recent research has found selenium to be one of the two most important minerals for preventing breast and prostate cancer or its recurrence.
Selenium also binds with mercury and escorts it out of the body.
Cellular integrity is dependent on selenium
The integrity of the cellular and subcellular membranes of the body is heavily dependent on glutathione, while the antioxidative protective system of glutathione itself is dependent on the presence of selenium.
The content of selenium in most foods depends on the selenium content of the soil in which plants for human and animal consumption are grown. Much of the selenium and overall mineral content of soils used in modern agriculture is depleted. Brazil nuts are one of only a few foods that can be counted on to provide selenium.
While everyone needs to maintain an adequate selenium level, it is particularly important for people with gastrointestinal disorders who may have decreased absorption of selenium, and for people with iodine deficiency. More research is underway on the protective effects of selenium against aging, other cancers, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and HIV infection.
Food sourced vitamins and minerals are the easiest for the body to assimilate and use, and food sources provide the additional benefits of synergy. Eating brazil nuts has the same weight control benefits as eating other nuts. Because of the nutrient density of nuts,
research has shown that people who eat them are thinner than those who don’t. Brazil nuts are one of the few vegetarian foods that provide
complete protein, meaning that Brazil nuts have all the necessary amino acids for growth and regeneration in humans.
Brazil nuts are good sources of magnesium, phosphorous, Vitamin E and thiamine. Their fat profile is excellent, providing saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Brazil nuts contain an estimated 50 micrograms of selenium per nut. The recommended daily amount of selenium for males and females over the age of 19 is 55 micrograms. This means you will be well supplied with selenium by eating just two Brazil nuts each day.
Other good sources of selenium include mushrooms, shrimp, tuna, halibut, calf’s liver, salmon, eggs, poultry, sunflower seeds and oats.
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