Do Brazil Nuts Boost Testosterone?

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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The diet is an important factor in health and performance. And these days you are spoiled for choice when it comes to foods that support your athletic and testosterone-boosting needs. 

Brazil nuts are often mentioned when discussing male health. Can this snack boost your levels of androgen? If so, how much of the snack maximizes this increase? This article will tell you:

  • What are Brazil Nuts?
  • Benefits of macro- and micronutrient profiles
  • Brazil Nuts Increase Your Testosterone Levels?

What are Brazil Nuts (Brazilian Nuts)?

Brazil nuts are a South American native seed that is found in Peru, Columbia and Venezuela. These large Brazil nut seeds, or Bertholletia Excelsa in science terms, are primarily found on rain forest sites. 

Nuts are a great source of essential nutrients. These nuts contain only modest quantities of carbohydrates, but they are rich in essential amino acids. This is great for boosting muscle protein synthesis. 

Brazil nuts are also high in fats. 85% of their calories come from fatty acid. Over 650 calories are provided by 100g. The fats are relatively evenly distributed, with a slight increase in monounsaturated fat (MUFA). 

Fiber and micronutrients are also in abundance. Here you'll find high levels of thiamin (B1) and vitamin E. You can also get phosphorous, manganese, and vitamin B1. Brazil nuts also contain a massive hit of the testosterone-boosting nutrients magnesium and zinc too. 

Selenium is the most important and abundant nutrient in this food. Brazil nuts have the highest concentrations of selenium in any food, with literature indicating an average between 8-83 mg/g. It means that for each small handful, you will get approximately 770% the daily recommended value. 

It has similar antioxidant properties to vitamins. This trace mineral helps prevent an excessive accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which can damage your cells via a process known as oxidative injury [3]. This is an important regulator for thyroid, immune and reproductive functions. 

What are the health benefits of Brazil Nuts?

These nuts are packed with nutrition and can be a great source of healthy benefits, even though they're high in calories. 

Brazil nuts are anti-inflammatory and help to regulate cholesterol. A diet high in MUFAs has been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol, while increasing HDL cholesterol [4]. 

A diet rich in antioxidants can help fight inflammation and reduce the risk of many diseases. It will also decrease the accumulation of arterial sludge, a condition known as atherosclerosis. These nutrients may play a role in the prevention of certain cancers. 

One study did find that selenium derived from natural foods like Brazil nuts was better absorbed than selenium taken as a supplement [2]. According to the research team, the other nutrients found in food such as vitamin E help your body absorb nutrients. 

If you want to include selenium as part of your daily diet, it is best to do so through foods like nuts and not from supplements. 

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Do Brazil Nuts Elevate T Levels?

Brazil nuts contain Selenium

Review studies have shown that selenium plays a role in testosterone synthesis, as well as for the development, formation, and motility of male sperm. 

A diet high in selenium has been shown to enhance male health, including the quality of sperm. In a study that was published in British Journal of Urology, [6] selenium consumption on male fertility was investigated. 

The researchers recruited 69 men who had low sperm mobility and administered a daily dose of selenium alone, or selenium with vitamins C, A, and E. 

Both groups that received selenium reported increased plasma levels of selenium after the study.¬†The selenium-treated men also had higher sperm mobility compared to placebo group, which saw a decline in motility.¬†It was a great result that 11% of treated men became fathers ‚Äď a high percentage for sub-fertile males.¬†

It is interesting to note that the addition of vitamin D had no impact on male health parameters. 

Selenium is also found to increase testosterone levels in studies where it has been consumed. 

In a study conducted at the Urology & Nephrology Center of the Shahid Beheshti University, Iran, selenium was used to treat infertile males [7]. The 468 infertile men were given 200mg of selenium over 26 weeks or other treatment options. 

After the study, selenium levels in blood increased and this directly correlated with sperm counts. This group reported an increase in testosterone. 

Selenium, as a trace element, is not a necessary mineral. You only require very little selenium. National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine set a maximum limit of 400 mcg of selenium per day. It is equivalent to only six Brazil nuts. 

You may experience nausea if you consistently exceed this limit. In rare, serious cases you may even endure selenium toxicity. This can cause nail discoloration, hair loss or mood changes. 

Brazil Nuts contain Magnesium and Zinc

These two testosterone-boosting nutrients have also been found to have powerful benefits to primary male androgen hormones. 

Magnesium, which is classified as a "major mineral", means that you will need more than just trace minerals. Toxicology is much more difficult to achieve. This nutrient has been shown to regulate insulin, lower blood pressure, promote relaxation, recovery and boost testosterone.

In a study in the journal Biological Trace Element Research (Cinar), for instance, it was reported that after only four weeks of supplementing with magnesium both total and free T levels were significantly increased in a group consisting of sedentary people and elite athletes. 

Zinc has also been shown to increase testosterone, energy, mood, and fat oxidation. 

In one study, testosterone levels and serum zinc levels showed a significant correlation. Dietary restriction led to a decline in T in just 20 weeks. The research team found, as expected, that T levels increased when zinc supplements were increased. 

Conclusion

It is possible that Brazil nuts increase testosterone due to the presence of zinc, selenium, and magnesium. But it is important to remember that Brazil nuts also contain fatty acids, amino acids and other nutrients which support the overall health. 

Brazil nuts are a great way to boost your T levels. More so if you are deficient in selenium. Be careful with the high calories, as high fat can quickly increase your energy intake.

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References

  1. Zuidema, PA et al.¬†Demography of the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) in the Bolivian Amazon: impact of seed extraction on recruitment and population dynamics.¬†Journal of Tropical Ecology (2002) 18:1‚Äď31
  2. Thompson, CD et al. Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008; 87(2): 379-384
  3. Yeo, JE et al. Selenium effectively inhibits ROS-mediated apoptotic neural precursor cell death in vitro and in vivo in traumatic brain injury. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007; 1772(11-12): 1199-210
  4. Kris-Etherton, PM et al. High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 70(6): 1009-15
  5. Williams, S.¬†Selenium ‚Äď what are the issues? A review of requirements relating to different clinical settings.¬†The Nutrition Practitioner. 2010
  6. Scott, R et al. The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol. 1998; 82(1): 76-80
  7. Safarinejad, MR et al. Efficacy of Selenium and/or N-Acetyl-Cysteine for Improving Semen Parameters in Infertile Men: A Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled, Randomized Study. J Urol. 2009; 181(2): 741-751
  8. Cinar, V et al. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011; 140(1): 18-23
  9. Prasad, AS et al. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition. 1996; 12(5): 344-8