From wild trees in the Amazonian forests of Peru in South America. They are from the South East area of Peru called Madre de DIos. Brazil nuts are buttery and sweet like a macadamia nut. Our Brazil nuts are organic and dried at very low temperatures. They are not certified organic, but as with all Brazil nuts are grown wild in the rain forest and gathered as they fall to the ground when ripe. The trees grow up to 50 metres in height and it takes about 20 - 25 years before they start producing fruit.
The tree and the nut/fruit are called Castano. It was often cut and used for its wood to be be made into furniture. Fortunately the government along with international government support has promoted the use of the Brazil Nut, and it is now illegal to cut down the trees in this region. The native communities harvest and sell the castanas in this area with the money going back into their community.
These nuts once harvested are sent to a processing centre that largely employs women who open the shells by hand, which helps bring more income to their families.
More about organic here.
Always refrigerate your Brazil nuts.
Brazil Nut Recipes
Beet and Brazil Nut Salad here
Nutritional Information for Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are 14% protein, 12% carbohydrates and 66% fat. Although they have one of the highest fat contents of all the nuts, eating them has been correlated with improved weight management as apposed to contributing to it. Because much of the fat is in the form of fragile fatty acids, brazil nuts need to be kept in the fridge.
They are most well known as an exceptionally good source of selenium - essential as an antioxidant and detoxifier. Some studies suggest selenium can help in cancer prevention. Because too much selenium can also be detrimental - it is suggested to have no more than 2 brazil nuts per day.
Brazil nuts have also been correlated with decreased bad cholesterol, improved immunity and improved fertility. They are a great source of fibre and quite high in magnesium, thiamin, zinc, manganese and vitamin E. They have all the essential amino acids so they are a great source of protein and one of the higher food sources of calcium.
General and Historical Information About Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are botanically seeds. They grow in pods, like the cacao, in a large round ball that could really hurt someone if it hit them on the head as it plummeted from the very high reaches of its tree branches. The trees get up to 165 feet high and have pretty yellow flowers. They often live to 500 years but have been known to be over 1000 years old!
They are native to the Amazon basin and aren't generally grown commercially but rather wild harvested. They would be difficult to cultivate because of the unique way they propagate, which can only be done by a specific bee that has a very long tongue that can get into their flowers. In Brazil, it is illegal to cut down a Brazil nut tree so they can often be found in odd locations.
The pod is so hard that it can't be cracked with a nutcracker - only something like an axe can do the job! However, monkeys have been seen opening brazil nuts with a stone (used like an anvil).
Brazil nuts are related to blueberries, cranberries, tea and gooseberries.
Albala, Ken. Nuts a Global History. London: Reaktion Books, 2014. Print
Haas, Dr. Elson and Dr. Buck Levin. Staying Healthy with Nutrition.New York: Ten Speed Press, 2006. Print
Nutr Cancer. 1994;21(3):203-12. "Bioactivity of selenium from Brazil nut for cancer prevention and selenoenzyme maintenance." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8072875
Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 May 28;8(1):32. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-32. "Brazil nuts intake improves lipid profile, oxidative stress and microvascular function in obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21619692
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2002. Print
Tadayyon, Dr. Bahram. The Miracle of Nuts, Seeds and Grains. Xlibris, 2013. Print
WHFoods. "A Daily Brazil Nut Better than a Supplement for Selenium." http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=btnews&dbid=18