One of America’s Favorites – Nuts

August 19, 2013 at 9:25 AM | Posted in nuts, One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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A nut is a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed, where the hard-shelled fruit does not open to release the seed (indehiscent). So, while, Some common nutsin a culinary context, a wide variety of dried seeds are often called nuts, in a botanical context, only ones that include the indehiscent fruit are considered true nuts. The translation of “nut” in certain languages frequently requires paraphrases as the concept is ambiguous.
Most seeds come from fruits that naturally free themselves from the shell, unlike nuts such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns, which have hard shell walls and originate from a compound ovary. Culinary usage of the term is less restrictive, and some nuts as defined in food preparation, like almonds, pistachios and Brazil nuts, are not nuts in a botanical sense. Common usage of the term often refers to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut.

 

 

A nut in botany is a simple dry fruit with one seed (rarely two) in which the ovary wall becomes very hard (stony or woody) at maturity, and where the seed remains attached or fused with the ovary wall. Most nuts come from the pistils with inferior ovaries (see flower) and all are indehiscent (not opening at maturity). True nuts are produced, for example, by some plant families of the order Fagales.
Order Fagales:
* Family Juglandaceae
* Walnut (Juglans)
* Hickory, Pecan (Carya)
* Wingnut (Pterocarya)
* Family Fagaceae
* Beech (Fagus)
* Chestnut (Castanea)
*Oak (Quercus)
* Stone-oak (Lithocarpus)
* Tanoak (Notholithocarpus)
* Family Betulaceae
* Hazel, Filbert (Corylus)
* Hornbeam (Carpinus)
A small nut may be called a nutlet. Nutlet may refer to one of the following. In botany, this term specifically refers to a pyrena or pyrene, which is a seed covered by a stony layer, such as the kernel of a drupe. Walnuts and hickories (Juglandaceae) have fruits that are difficult to classify. They are considered to be nuts under some definitions, but are also referred to as drupaceous nuts. “Tryma” is a specialized term for hickory fruits.

 

 

A nut in cuisine is a much less restrictive category than a nut in botany, as the term is applied to many seeds that are not botanically true

Hazelnuts from the Common Hazel

Hazelnuts from the Common Hazel

nuts. Any large, oily kernels found within a shell and used in food are commonly called nuts.
Nuts are an important source of nutrients for both humans and wildlife. Because nuts generally have a high oil content, they are a highly prized food and energy source. A large number of seeds are edible by humans and used in cooking, eaten raw, sprouted, or roasted as a snack food, or pressed for oil that is used in cookery and cosmetics. Nuts (or seeds generally) are also a significant source of nutrition for wildlife. This is particularly true in temperate climates where animals such as jays and squirrels store acorns and other nuts during the autumn to keep from starving during the late autumn, all of winter, and early spring.
Nuts used for food, whether true nut or not, are among the most common food allergens.[3]
Some fruits and seeds that do not meet the botanical definition but are nuts in the culinary sense are:
* Almonds are the edible seeds of drupe fruits — the leathery “flesh” is removed at harvest.
* Brazil nut is the seed from a capsule.
* Candlenut (used for oil) is a seed.
* Cashew is the seed[4] of an accessory fruit.
* Chilean hazelnut or Gevuina
* Macadamia is a creamy white kernel of a follicle type fruit.
* Malabar chestnut
* Mongongo
* Peanut is a seed and from a legume type fruit (of the family Fabaceae).
* Pine nut is the seed of several species of pine (coniferous trees).
* Pistachio is the seed of a thin-shelled drupe.

 

 

Several epidemiological studies have revealed that people who consume nuts regularly are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD). Nuts were first linked to protection against CHD in 1993. Since then many clinical trials have found that consumption of various nuts such as almonds and walnuts can lower serum LDL cholesterol concentrations. Although nuts contain various substances thought to possess cardioprotective effects, scientists believe that their Omega 3 fatty acid profile is at least in part responsible for the hypolipidemic response observed in clinical trials.
In addition to possessing cardioprotective effects, nuts generally have a very low glycemic index (GI). Consequently, dietitians frequently recommend nuts be included in diets prescribed for patients with insulin resistance problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2.
One study found that people who eat nuts live two to three years longer than those who do not. However, this may be because people who eat nuts tend to eat less junk food.
Nuts contain the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acids, and the fats in nuts for the most part are unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated fats. Nuts also provide Arginine, a substance that may help make the walls of the arteries more flexible and less prone to blockage from blood clot formation.
Many nuts are good sources of vitamins E and B2, and are rich in protein, folate, fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
Nuts are most healthy in their raw form. The reason is that up to 15% of the healthy oils that naturally occur in nuts are lost during the roasting process.
Raw or unroasted walnuts were found to have twice as many antioxidants as other nuts. Although initial studies suggested that antioxidants might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation of antioxidant supplements is harmful.

 

 

The nut of the horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus species, especially Aesculus hippocastanum), is called a conker in the British Isles. Conkers are

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

inedible because they contain toxic glucoside aesculin. They are used in a popular children’s game, known as conkers, where the nuts are threaded onto a strong cord and then each contestant attempts to break their opponent’s conker by hitting it with their own. Horse chestnuts are also popular slingshot ammunition.

 

 

Nuts, including the wild almond, prickly water lily, acorns, pistachio and water chestnut, were a major part of the human diet 780,000 years ago. Prehistoric humans developed an assortment of tools to crack open nuts during the Pleistocene period. Aesculus californica was eaten by the Native Americans of California during famines after the toxic constituents were leached out.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Hash

July 15, 2013 at 8:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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An order of corned beef hash.

An order of corned beef hash.

Hash is a dish consisting of diced meat, potatoes, and spices that are mixed together and then cooked either alone or with other ingredients such as onions. The name is derived from the French verb hacher (to chop).

In many locations, hash is served primarily as a breakfast food on restaurant menus and as home cuisine, often served with eggs and toast (or biscuits), and occasionally fried potatoes (hash browns, home fries, etc.). The dish may also use corned beef or roast beef.
Corned beef hash became especially popular in some countries during and after World War II as rationing limited the availability of fresh meat.
Hash has recently made a comeback as more than just a dish for leftovers or breakfasts of last resort. High-end restaurants now offer sophisticated hashes and the first cookbook dedicated exclusively to a wide variety of hashes was self-published in 2012.

 

 

In Northern England, corned beef hash is a traditional cheap and quick dish dating back many years. Corned beef (beef treated with saltpeter) is nearly always from a tin and almost always imported from South America. Tinned corned beef was available more plentifully during war years (when fresh meat was heavily rationed) and a staple food in the armed forces. The meal is made with tinned corned beef, stirred with browned onions, before having liquid added (either gravy or stock, or tinned tomatoes) then having lightly boiled sliced potatoes layered over the top before being browned under a hot grill. Alternatively cubed boiled potatoes are stirred in. Some recipes would add peas or carrots.[citation needed]
In Scotland, the dish of “stovies” is very similar to hash. There are many variations on the dish, but all consist of a base of mashed or coarsely chopped potato, with onions and leftover meat, usually minced or roast beef although there are many variations including corned beef.

 

 

The meat packing company Hormel claims that it introduced corned beef hash and roast beef hash to the U.S. as early as 1950, but

Texas hash with cornbread and green beans.

Texas hash with cornbread and green beans.

“hash” of many forms was part of the American diet since at least the 19th century, as is attested by the availability of numerous recipes and the existence of many “hash houses” named after the dish. In the United States, September 27 is “National Corned Beef Hash Day.”
Alternatively, in the southern United States, the term “hash” may refer to two dishes:
* a Southern traditional blend of leftover pork from a barbecue mixed with barbecue sauce and served over rice. This is a common side dish at barbecue restaurants and pig pickin’s notably in South Carolina and Georgia.
* a thick stew made up of pork, chicken and beef, generally leftover, traditionally seasoned with salt and pepper and other spices, reduced overnight over an open flame in an iron washpot or hashpot.
* Some areas in the south also use the term hash to refer to meat, such as wild game, that is served as BBQ or Pulled meat that is boiled first.

 

 

* In Denmark, hash is known in Danish as “biksemad” (roughly translated, “tossed together food”), and it is a traditional leftover dish usually served with a fried egg, worcestershire sauce, pickled red beet slices and ketchup or Bearnaise sauce. The meat is usually pork, and the mixture is not mashed together into a paste, but rather the ingredients are coarsely diced and readily discernible in its cooked form.
* In Sweden, there is a version of hash called pyttipanna[8] and in Finland, pyttipannu, and Norway, pyttipanne. It is similar to the Danish version. The Swedish variety Pytt Bellman calls specifically for beef instead of other meats and adding cream to the hash. It is named after Sweden’s 18th century national poet Carl Michael Bellman.
* In Austria and perhaps more specifically Tyrol, there exists a similar dish called “Gröstl“, usually consisting of chopped leftover meats (often being pork sausage), potato and onions fried with herbs (typically marjoram and parsley) and then served topped with a fried egg.
* In Malaysia, a similar dish is called “bergedil”. It is usually made with minced meat, potatoes, and onions, fried until brown.
* In Ibero-American (Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American) cuisines, there is a similar dish called picadillo (Spanish) or carne moída (Portuguese). It is made with ground meat (usually beef), tomatoes (tomato sauce may be used as a substitute), vegetables and spices[9] that vary by region (the Portuguese and Brazilian version is generally carne moída refogada, very heavy on garlic, in the form of an aioli sofrito called refogado, and often also heavy on onion and bell peppers). It is often served with rice (it can be fried in aioli sofrito if those who will eat have a strong fondness for garlic), as well as okra, in the form of quiabo refogado—okra fried in an aioli sofrito, just as the hash itself and the collard greens used in feijoada—, in Brazil, there constituting a staple) or used as a filling in dishes such as tacos, tostadas, or as a regular breakfast hash with eggs and tortillas (not in Brazil and Portugal). In Brazil and Portugal, it is used as bolognese sauce for pasta, and also used as a filling for pancake rolls, pastel (Brazilian pastry empanada), empadão and others (not with okra as it is far too perishable to be used in a fill for fast food and its consumption together with wheat flour-based foods often does not fit cultural tastes). The name comes from the West Iberian (Spanish, Leonese and Portuguese) infinitive verb picar, which means “to mince” or “to chop”.
* In Germany there is Labskaus.

 

 

 

 

 

Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients:
6 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (12 ounce) can corned beef, cut into
chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup beef broth
Directions:
1. In a large deep skillet, over medium heat, combine the potatoes, corned beef, onion, and beef broth. Cover and simmer until potatoes are of mashing consistency, and the liquid is almost gone. Mix well, and serve.

One of America’s Favorites – Tapioca

June 24, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Tapioca (Portuguese pronunciation: [tɐpiˈɔkɐ]) is a starch extracted from Manioc (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to the

Cassava root

Cassava root

Northeast of Brazil but spread throughout the South American continent. The plant was spread by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies, Africa and Asia, including the Philippines and Taiwan, being now cultivated worldwide.
In Brazil, the plant (cassava) is named “mandioca”, while its starch is called “tapioca”. The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’óka, the name for this starch in the Tupí language, which was spoken by the natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the Northeast of Brazil. This Tupí word refers to the process by which the starch is made edible. However, as the word moved out of Brazil it came to refer to similar preparations made with other esculents.
In the Philippines, tapioca is usually confused with sago, as the sap of the sago palm is often part of its preparation. In India, the term “tapioca” is used to represent the root of the plant (cassava), rather than the starch. In Vietnam, it is called bột năng. In Indonesia, it is called singkong. In Malaysia it is called “Ubi Kayu”. In Britain, the word tapioca often refers to a milk pudding thickened with arrowroot.
Tapioca is a staple food in some regions and is used worldwide as a thickening agent in various foods. It is considered a gluten-free food.

 

 
The cassava plant has either red or green branches with blue spindles on them. The root of the green-branched variant requires treatment to remove linamarin, a cyanogenic glycoside occurring naturally in the plant, which otherwise may be converted into cyanide. Konzo (also called mantakassa) is a paralytic disease associated with several weeks of almost exclusive consumption of insufficiently processed bitter cassava. The toxin found in the root of the red-branched variant is less harmful to humans than the green-branched variety. Therefore, the root of the red/purple-branched variant can be consumed directly.
In the North and Northeast of Brazil, traditional community based production of tapioca is a by-product of manioc flour production from cassava roots. In this process, the manioc (after treatment to remove toxicity) is ground to a pulp with a small hand- or diesel-powered mill. This masa is then squeezed to dry it out. The wet masa is placed in a long woven tube called a tipiti. The top of the tube is secured while a large branch or lever is inserted into a loop at the bottom and used to stretch the entire implement vertically, squeezing a starch-rich liquid out through the weave and ends. This liquid is collected and the water allowed to evaporate, leaving behind a fine-grained tapioca powder similar in appearance to corn starch.
Commercially, the starch is processed into several forms: hot soluble powder or meal or pre-cooked fine or coarse flakes, rectangular sticks, and spherical “pearls”. Pearls are the most widely available shape; sizes range from about 1 mm to 8 mm in diameter, with 2–3 mm being the most common.
Flakes, sticks, and pearls must be soaked well before cooking, in order to rehydrate, absorbing water up to twice their volume. After rehydration, tapioca products become leathery and swollen. Processed tapioca is usually white, but sticks and pearls may be colored. Since old times, the most common colour applyed to tapioca has been brown, but recently pastel colors have been available. Tapioca pearls are generally opaque when raw, but become translucent when cooked in boiling water.
Brazil in South America, Thailand in Asia, and Nigeria in Africa are the world’s largest producers of cassava. Currently, Thailand accounts for about 60% of worldwide exports.

 

 
While frequently associated with tapioca pudding, a dessert in the United States, tapioca is also used in other courses. Bubble tea is

Tapioca pudding

Tapioca pudding

gaining popularity in cities with large Asian populations. People on gluten-free diets can eat bread made with tapioca flour (although these individuals do have to be careful, as some tapioca flour has wheat added to it). Tapioca is also used as an ingredient in the Canadian Daiya brand cheese substitute.

 

 
A casabe is a thin flatbread made from bitter cassava root without leavening. It was originally produced by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas Arawak and Carib nations because these roots were a very common plant of the rain forests where they lived. In eastern Venezuela many Indigenous groups still make casabe and it remains their main bread-like food. Indigenous communities including the Ye-Kuana, Kari-Ña, Yanomami, Guarao or Warao are from either the Caribe or Arawac Nations and still make casabe.To make casabe, the starchy root of bitter cassava is ground to a pulp, then squeezed to expel a milky, bitter liquid called yare which carries the poisonous substances with it out of the pulp. Traditionally, this squeezing is done in a sebucan, an 8 to 12-foot (3.7 m) long tube-shaped pressure strainer woven in a characteristic helical pattern from palm leaves. The sebucan usually is hung from a tree branch or ceiling pole, and it has a closed bottom with a loop that is attached to a fixed stick or lever, which is used to stretch the sebucan. When the lever is pushed down, stretching the sebucan, the helical weaving pattern causes the strainer to squeeze the pulp inside. This is similar to the action of a Chinese finger trap. The pulp is then spread in thin, round cakes about 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter on a budare to roast or toast.

Thin and crisp cakes of casabe are often broken apart and eaten like crackers. Like bread, casabe can be eaten alone or with other dishes. Thicker casabe usually are eaten slightly moistened. Just a subtle sprinkle of a few drops of liquid is enough to transform a very dry casabe into a very soft and smooth bread very similar to the softest slice of a wheat bread loaf, an incredible change in texture. Because of its capacity to absorb liquid immediately, casabe may cause someone to choke, but goes down quickly with a sip of liquid.
In Guyana, the casabe is simply called cassava bread. It is prepared with an instrument called a matape by the natives of the Rupununi Savanah and other areas of the country that have a high concentration of Amerinidians. In Jamaica, it is called bammy.
In Brazil, the cassava flatbread is called beiju or tapioca.

 

 
Tapioca pearls are also known as boba in some cultures. It is produced by passing the moist starch through a sieve under pressure. Pearl tapioca is a common ingredient in Asian desserts such as kolak, in tapioca pudding, and in sweet drinks such as bubble tea, fruit slush and taho, where they provide a chewy contrast to the sweetness and texture of the drink. Small pearls are preferred for use in puddings; large pearls are preferred for use in drinks. These large pearls most often are brown, not white (and traditionally are used in black or green tea drinks), but are available in a wide variety of pastel colors. Not only are they used in the aforementioned drinks, they are also available as an option in shave ice and hot drinks. In addition to their use in puddings and beverages, a recent innovation has seen tapioca pearls baked inside of cakes.

 

 
Tapioca root can also be used to manufacture biodegradable plastic bags. A polymer resin produced from the plant is a viable plastic substitute that is not only biodegradable, but can be composted, is renewable, and is recyclable. The product reverts in less than one year, versus thousands of years for traditional plastics.

 

 
Tapioca predominantly consists of carbohydrates, with each cup containing 135 grams for a total of 544 calories, and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Folic acid (vitamin B9) is present in the amount of 6.1 mcg, along with iron 2.4 mg and calcium 30.4 mg. One cup of tapioca also includes 1.5 mg of omega-3 acids, 3 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and 1 gram of dietary fiber.

 

 

 
*Warning on Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls May Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals, German Study Claims

*Tapioca pearls in bubble tea contain carcinogens like polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs
After analyzing the tapioca balls which make up the ‘bubbles’ in the drink, researchers from the University Hospital Aachen, for instance, found that the pearls contained polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs such as styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances, chemicals that shouldn’t be in food at all, researchers told German paper The Local.

 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/tapioca-pearls-bubble-tea-carcinogens-polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs-article-1.1148110#ixzz2X62nFo6N

 

 

 
Classic Tapioca Pudding
INGREDIENTS:
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten or 1/2 cup Egg Beater’s
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS:
1. Stir together the milk, tapioca, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 5 minutes longer.
2. Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Stir the egg mixture back into the tapioca until well mixed. Bring the pudding to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer until the pudding becomes thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The pudding may be served hot or poured into serving dishes and refrigerated several hours until cold.

Diabetes Helped by Green Tea, New Studies

January 25, 2013 at 9:31 AM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, green tea | Leave a comment
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Diabetes Helped by Green Tea, New Studies

 

By Deborah Mitchell on January 25, 2013

 

 

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions and can be a challenge to treat. Several new studies show how green tea may help patientsGreen tea better manage this disease and diabetic complications.

Green tea has compounds that help diabetes
Green tea is widely studied for a variety of health issues, and for good reason. Among its many helpful components are potent antioxidants called polyphenols, and a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is of special interest.

In fact, scientists are so interested in EGCG, there is currently a clinical trial underway that is exploring how the green tea component affects the body’s response to insulin. While that study is underway, others have been completed, and here are some of the findings.

In a new study from Brazil, researchers explored the ability of green tea to protect the retina in diabetic rats. This information is critical because diabetics are prone to developing diabetic retinopathy, an eye condition that can result in blindness.

The researchers administered green tea to rats with diabetes and hypertension for 12 weeks. They discovered how treatment with green tea protected the retina against damage associated with glutamate (an amino acid) toxicity. Based on this finding, they noted they had found “a novel mechanism by which GT [green tea] protects the retina against neurodegeneration in disorders such as diabetic retinopathy.”

In a new study released in the February 2013 issue of Current Opinion in Lipidology, the multinational team of investigators reported on results from studies on plant components called flavonoids and the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Based on their analysis, they noted that “the strongest evidence exists for a beneficial effect of green tea” on bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) levels and that “flavan-3-ols from green tea and cocoa may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.” They did stress, however, that more trials need to be conducted to confirm these findings.

Finally, in a new study from China, a research team looked at the effect of green tea polyphenols on fat deposits in rats fed a high-fat diet. Since overweight, obesity, and diet are critical factors in type 2 diabetes, patients and experts alike are always interested in ways to better manage these risk factors.

In the study, the rats were fed a high-fat diet and given three different dosages of green tea polyphenols in their drinking water. Over time, the scientists observed that the green tea polyphenols reduced fat deposit and levels of adiponectin (a protein that has an important role in glucose and lipid metabolism), as well as other benefits important for diabetes.

Can drinking green tea and/or taking green tea supplements improve your ability to prevent or manage diabetes and its complications? So far there is a considerable body of evidence suggesting green tea and its potent polyphenols have the potential to help individuals who have diabetes and diabetes risk factors, and these new studies add to the growing literature.

 

 

http://www.emaxhealth.com/1275/diabetes-helped-green-tea-new-studies

Nut of the Week – Brazil Nut

January 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Posted in Food, nuts | 1 Comment
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The Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is a South American tree in the family Lecythidaceae, and also the name of the tree’s commercially harvested edible seed. The Brazil nut family is in the order Ericales, as are other well known plants such as: blueberries, cranberries,

Brazil Nut Tree

sapote, gutta-percha, tea, kiwi fruit, phlox, and persimmons.

The Brazil nut tree is the only species in the monotypic type genus Bertholletia. It is native to the Guianas, Venezuela, Brazil, eastern Colombia, eastern Peru and eastern Bolivia. It occurs as scattered trees in large forests on the banks of the Amazon, Rio Negro, Tapajós, and the Orinoco. The genus is named after the French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet.

The Brazil nut is a large tree, reaching 165 ft tall and 3–6.5 ft trunk diameter, among the largest of trees in the Amazon Rainforests. It may live for 500 years or more, and according to some authorities often reaches an age of 1,000 years. The stem is straight and commonly unbranched for well over half the tree’s height, with a large emergent crown of long branches above the surrounding canopy of other trees.

The bark is grayish and smooth. The leaves are dry-season deciduous, alternate, simple, entire or crenate, oblong, 20–35 centimeter long and 10–15 centimeters broad. The flowers are small, greenish-white, in panicles 5–10 centimeters long; each flower has a two-parted, deciduous calyx, six unequal cream-colored petals, and numerous stamens united into a broad, hood-shaped mass.

Brazil nut trees produce fruit almost exclusively in pristine forests, as disturbed forests lack the large-body bees of the genera Bombus, Centris, Epicharis, Eulaema, and Xylocopa which are the only ones capable of pollinating the tree’s flowers. Brazil nuts have been harvested from plantations but production is low and it is currently not economically viable. The Brazil nut tree’s yellow flowers contain very sweet nectar and can only be pollinated by an insect strong enough to lift the coiled hood on the flower and with a tongue long enough to negotiate the complex coiled flower. For this reason, the Brazil nut’s reproduction depends on the presence of the orchid Coryanthes vasquezii, which does not grow on the Brazil nut tree itself. The orchids produce a scent that attracts small male long-tongued orchid bees (Euglossa spp), as the male bees need that scent to attract females. The large female long-tongued orchid bee pollinates the Brazil nut tree. Without the orchid, the bees do not mate, and therefore the lack of bees means the fruit does not get pollinated.

The fruit takes 14 months to mature after pollination of the flowers. The fruit itself is a large capsule 10–15 centimeters diameter resembling a coconut endocarp in size and weighing up to 2 kilograms. It has a hard, woody shell 8–12 millimeters thick, and inside contains 8–24 triangular seeds 4–5 centimeters long (the “Brazil nuts”) packed like the segments of an orange; it is not a true nut in the botanical sense.

The capsule contains a small hole at one end, which enables large rodents like the Agouti to gnaw it open. They then eat some of the

Brazil nut seeds

nuts inside while burying others for later use; some of these are able to germinate into new Brazil nut trees. Most of the seeds are “planted” by the Agoutis in shady places, and the young saplings may have to wait years, in a state of dormancy, for a tree to fall and sunlight to reach it. It is not until then that it starts growing again. Capuchin monkeys have been reported to open Brazil nuts using a stone as an anvil.

Despite their name, the most significant exporter of Brazil nuts is not Brazil but Bolivia, where they are called almendras. In Brazil these nuts are called castanhas-do-Pará (literally “nuts from Pará”), but Acreans call them castanhas-do-Acre instead. Indigenous names include juvia in the Orinoco area, and sapucaia in the rest of Brazil.

While cooks classify the Brazil nut as a nut, botanists consider it to be a seed and not a nut, because in nuts the shell splits in half with the meat separate from the shell. Around 20,000 tons of Brazil nuts are harvested each year, of which Bolivia accounts for about 50%, Brazil 40% and Peru 10% (2000 estimates). In 1980, annual production was around 40,000 tons per year from Brazil alone, and in 1970 Brazil harvested a reported 104,487 tons of nuts.

Brazil nuts are 18% protein by weight, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat. 91% of its calories come from fat. The fat breakdown is roughly 25% saturated, 41% monounsaturated, and 34% polyunsaturated. The saturated fat content of Brazil nuts is among the highest of all nuts, surpassing macadamia nuts, which are primarily monounsaturated fat, and the nuts are pressed for their oil. Because of the resulting rich taste, Brazil nuts can often substitute for macadamia nuts or even coconut in recipes. Also due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, primarily omega-6, shelled Brazil nuts soon become rancid.

Nutritionally, Brazil nuts are a good source of some vitamins and minerals. A cup or 133 grams of Brazil nuts contains the vitamins thiamin (0.8 mg—55% DV) and vitamin E (7.6 mg—38% DV); minerals calcium (213 mg—21% DV), magnesium (500 mg—125% DV), phosphorus (946 mg—96% DV), copper (2.3 mg—116% DV), and manganese (1.6 mg—81%), and are perhaps the richest dietary source

Brazil nuts after shell removal

of selenium; one ounce can contain as much as 10 times the adult USRDA (U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances), more even than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), although the amount of selenium within batches of nuts varies greatly.

Recent research suggests that proper selenium intake is correlated with a reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. This has led some health commentators and nutritionists to recommend the consumption of Brazil nuts as a protective measure. These findings are inconclusive, however; other investigations into the effects of selenium on prostate cancer were inconclusive.

Brazil nuts have one of the highest concentrations of phytic acid at 2 to 6% of dry weight. (Phytic acid can prevent absorption of some nutrients, mainly iron, but is also a subject of research and possibly confers health benefits – see phytic acid article for more information.)

Despite the possible health benefits of the nut, the European Union has imposed strict regulations on the import from Brazil of Brazil nuts in their shells, as the shells have been found to contain high levels of aflatoxins, which can lead to liver cancer.

Brazil nuts contain small amounts of radium. Although the amount of radium, a radioactive element, is very small, about 1–7 pCi/g (40–260 Bq/kg), and most of it is not retained by the body, this is 1,000 times higher than in other foods. According to Oak Ridge Associated Universities, this is not because of elevated levels of radium in the soil, but due to “the very extensive root system of the tree.”

As well as its food use, Brazil nut oil is also used as a lubricant in clocks, for making artists’ paints, and in the cosmetics industry.

The lumber from Brazil nut trees (not to be confused with Brazilwood) is of excellent quality, but logging the trees is prohibited by law in all three producing countries (Brazil, Bolivia and Peru). Illegal extraction of timber and land clearances present a continuing threat.

The Brazil nut effect is the tendency of the larger items to rise to the top of a mixture of items of various sizes but similar densities, e.g., Brazil nuts mixed with peanuts.

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Maisie Edwards-Mowforth

Healthy Food and Cosy Times

Wiredgypsy's Diary

Life, Thoughts, Cultures, Food, Travel, Coffee, Taste Enthusiast

goodmotherdiet

It's not what you think...

Corner of Well-Being

Spiritual | Mental | Physical | Emotional | Social

Allie Carte Dishes

reinventing your favorite a la carte dishes

The Best Chicken Recipe.com

Yeah, we're crazy about chicken.

Sharing the passion for cooking!

Life is meant for Good Food, Good Friends & Great Adventures

Bonnie's GF Bakery

Specializing in Glutenfree bakes

Fun Cooking Station

Homemade food made with love

Collectiveness

Random thoughts of mine.

The Quirk and the Cool

Thoughts and conversation about food, and other interests, being shared from beautiful Sydney, Australia.

SO MUCH FOOD

Approachable and exciting recipes for the adventurous home cook!

Moss En Place

Vegetable forward, feel good food