Ask most naturopaths to reveal their favourite snack foods, and nuts usually come out close to the top of the list.
And why not? There's more to nuts than great taste alone.
Nuts provide about 10 per cent of our fibre, folate, and zinc needs; not to mention around 20 per cent or more of those for vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and copper.
One of the most nutritious members in the nut family tree, Brazil nuts are so named because they grow wild in the Amazonian rainforest. The kernel of a fruit similar to a coconut, the nuts grow in clusters of 24 and are peeled and dried before being sent to shop shelves around the globe.
Preparation techniques aside, these arch-shaped nuts do wonders for our immune system and skin tone. They contain selenium, which helps strengthen the immune system's antibody response.
In her book The Top 100 Immunity Boosters, Charlotte Haigh describes Brazil nuts as one the best sources of selenium around. This mineral, she says, is central to the action of glutathione, a free radical-suppressing enzyme.
What's more, Brazil nuts are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which ease inflammation, enhance digestion and improve our skin.
Here's some helpful ways to work them into your diet (but be warned, Brazil nuts' high fat content means they go rancid quickly, so don't leave them sitting in your cupboard for too long):
- Eat raw for a simple, satisfying snack
- Process them into nut butter or milk to eat with toast and cereal
- Add to stir-fries for a crunchy punch of protein
References available on request