Brazil nuts, also known as para nuts or cream nuts, are the edible seeds of a large tree native to (you guessed it) Brazil.
In the past, they used to be somewhat of a luxury food outside their native country.
These days, however, you can usually find packets of Brazil nuts in most convenience and health food stores.
If not, you can always get them on Amazon.
The creamy kernels come with a long list of potential health benefits.
Some are well documented, while others need more research to be verified.
Most of the supposed benefits come from the nuts’ insanely-high selenium content.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral, and many people don’t get enough of it.
With Brazil nuts, though, it couldn’t be simpler:
Just 5g of the nuts (around 2 of them) contain 96 mcg of selenium — 137% of the daily recommended intake.
Brazil Nuts For Female Fertility
Perhaps the most notable health benefit of the exotic nuts has to do with fertility.
On the internet, you’ll find plenty of new mothers who swear that the nuts helped them get pregnant.
There has been a lot of speculation as to why, exactly, the exotic food would help with this.
Obviously, the most likely explanation is their uniquely-high selenium content.
However, the exact mechanisms involved have been hard to pin down.
Many theories floated around the web, but the science behind them were tough to find.
Thankfully, in recent years, new research has shed some light on Brazil nuts’ relationship with female fertility.
The Selenium Link
As mentioned, just a couple of Brazil nuts will be enough to cover your daily need of selenium.
While clear-cut research is somewhat lacking, there is some evidence that the underrated mineral can help with reproduction.
In 1995, an interesting study was published in the International Journal of Clinical Chemistry (study).
First, the researchers measured the amount of selenium found in the ovarian follicles of 112 in vitro fertilization patients.
Then, they evaluated how the women’s mineral levels related to their fertility treatment results.
When the study was concluded, they found that the women with unexplained infertility had significantly-lower levels of selenium in their ovarian follicles.
Clues From Cows
More recently, a 2015-study on bovines found that larger, more healthy ovarian follicles had higher amounts of selenium in them (study).
The researchers concluded that the mineral may play an important role as an antioxidant in developing ovarian follicles.
Yes, this study was done on cows, but we are also mammals, after all.
Additionally, the findings seemed to reaffirm the earlier conclusions drawn from examining humans.
Furthermore, it resulted in more successful implantations.
However, the researchers also found that prolonged supplementation gave the opposite effects.
This is likely because of minor selenium toxicity, which can happen if you get too much of the mineral.
Another breakthrough came from a great scientific review from 2015.
The authors concluded that low levels of selenium could lead to:
- Gestational problems
- Low birth weight
- Damage to the nerves and immune system of fetuses
Exactly how selenium takes care of these problems is somewhat unclear.
Likely explanations include the mineral’s strong antioxidant activity, as well as its beneficial effect on the immune system.
The Bottom Line
So, what does the existing research show us?
Well, it’s quite simple, really:
If you’re a woman looking to boost your fertility and the health of your potential newborn, getting enough selenium is strongly recommended.
Again, you only need to consume about 2 Brazil nuts a day to achieve this.
As long as you don’t eat too many, it’s one of the easiest ways to potentially improve your chances of conceiving.
Brazil Nuts For Male Fertility
Alright, so we’ve gone through how Brazil nuts could boost female fertility.
But what about men?
After all, we’re talking about half of the equation here.
There’s no use having a fertile womb if no swimmers show up.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways Brazil nuts can empower a man’s seed.
Selenium And Vitamin E — A Dynamic Duo
In 2011, an eye-opening study was published in the International Journal of General Medicine (study).
It included 690 infertile men aged 20-45 who experienced an unexplained loss of sperm motility.
They were given two daily supplements they would take for at least 100 days:
200 mcg of selenium and 400IU of vitamin E.
When the study finished, 362 of the 690 men saw a marked improvement.
The researchers concluded that selenium and vitamin E could boost semen quality and motility — thereby increasing the chances of conception.
The Power Of A Single Nut
More research on this subject was carried out in 2018 (study).
12 infertile men were given a selenium capsule that they would take daily for 3 months.
Each capsule contained 50mcg of the selenium — that’s the equivalent of one Brazil nut.
Yes, just a single nut a day.
But could that really be enough to boost fertility?
When the 3-month treatment was complete, the researchers saw tremendous improvements in the subjects.
The selenium supplementation significantly increased:
- Sperm count
- Sperm motility
- Sperm viability
- Ejaculatory volume
- Serum testosterone
Sure, this was a smaller sample size, but the findings were similar to previous studies.
Considering that we’re talking about a single Brazil nut a day, there’s not much to lose.
Based on the research, it’s potentially one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to greatly increase male fertility.
How Many Brazil Nuts Should You Eat A Day?
So, there you have it.
Turns out, Brazil nuts, with their incredible amounts of selenium, really can improve fertility — both in women and men!
But how many of the creamy kernels should you eat a day?
Well, it’s no secret they’re packed with goodies.
Besides their legendary selenium content, they also come packed with protein, healthy fats, magnesium, phosphorus, and thiamin.
However, there is one potential problem that needs to be addressed…
Avoiding The Danger Zone
As I briefly mentioned earlier, too much selenium can lead to toxicity.
This is because excess intake of the mineral doesn’t get flushed out with your pee.
Instead, it builds up in your body, and eventually starts creating nasty reactions if the levels get too high (case study).
Signs of selenium toxicity are:
- Stomach pain
- Bad breath
- Intestinal cramps
- Hand tremors
- Reduced blood pressure
And even more horrible, horrible, things.
Don’t overeat Brazil nuts!
If you have preexisting health conditions, or you really go overboard, you may even die from doing so (source).
Staying Safe & Reaping The Benefits
While the toxicity warning may sound scary, don’t worry:
As long as you stick with a low-to-moderate consumption, you should be completely fine.
Just remember to check the nutritional info of the Brazil nuts you buy.
This is because their selenium content may differ based on where they’re grown.
Also, if you’re eating other high-selenium foods (like oysters), you need to take that into consideration as well.
With that said being said, we can give a general answer:
1-3 Brazil nuts a day will be optimal for most people.
This will yield around 50-150mcg of selenium.
Based on the research, this should be enough to boost your fertility while still being within the safe zone.
If you manage to do that, you may see some exciting developments down the road.
And maybe, just maybe, a new family member will be on their way.