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Brazil Nuts
The three-sided, hard, dark-shelled Brazil nut grows in clusters at the end of thick branches inside coconut-like pods called cocos. The nut is grown in the Amazon rain forests of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The Brazil nut tree is enormous, reaching a height of 100 to 150 feet or more. It can also live a long life of 500 to 800 years. (The trees grow very slowly, taking as long as 10 to 30 years before producing nuts.) They require a specific species of bee to pollinate the flowers and a small ground mammal called the agouti to break open the pods and spread the seeds. For these reasons, the Amazon is the only place these nuts have been grown successfully.

When the fruit is ripe, it falls from the tree, from January to June, usually with a loud crashing sound. Inside each fruit pod are 12 to 25 Brazil nuts, each within its own individual shell. Older Brazil nut trees can produce approximately 300 or more of these fruit pods annually. The pods are gathered when they have fallen from the trees and then must be chopped open in order to obtain the nuts. Brazil nuts taste rich and creamy, and their meat is similar in texture to coconut. These nuts can be eaten raw, roasted and salted.

One ounce Brazil nuts = 6 nuts:

186 calories
4 g protein
3.5 g carbohydrates
19 grams total fat,7 g of which are monounsaturated and 6 g are polyunsaturated
2 grams of fiber
45 mg calcium
107 mg magnesium
1.15 mg zinc
543.5 mcg selenium
1.62 mg vitamin E

Brazil nuts contain a very large amount of selenium and they are also a good source of phytosterols, but brazil nuts do not contain as many phytosterols as other nuts. Phytosterols from plants have been shown to reduce cholesterol, to decrease the risk of some cancers and to enhance immune function.