Thursday, 31 July 2014

Two Brazil nuts a day keep the doctor away.

Lately I've been watching loads of videos on the YouTube channel IHealthTube. One of those videos has made me make a slight change in my diet. In this video it is said that, if every girl and woman in the United States would take a selenium supplement of 200 mcg every day, the incidence of breast cancer would be decreased with 82% in one generation. Dr. Glidden, the doctor that's being interviewed, goes on to argue that we should use supplements to stay healthy.
After seeing that video, I started doing a bit of research on selenium.

Selenium is a mineral that is found in the soil. There are large differences on how much selenium there is in the soil though, and in Europe I believe there isn't that much of it. Consequently there's not much selenium in our food chain either. Also it's estimated that the average Belgian consumes 60 µg of selenium per day (source). So I decided I ought to get more of it in my diet.
As I never know which supplements to take, I take none (Sorry Dr. Glidden...) What I did do however, was find out which foods are high in selenium so I could make sure to eat enough of those. It turns out that Brazil nuts are an amazing source of selenium! On average they contain 95.9 mcg of selenium per kernel (source). So since then I've been eating two Brazil nuts a day! They taste nice and contain other nutrients as well, so for me this is a good option.
However whilst writing this post, I came across different numbers too: shelled Brazil nuts would contain much less selenium than unshelled ones. (I believe it said 25 mcg per kernel, but I cannot find the website where I read this any more...) So I did some more research on this topic and then stumbled upon an amazing blog post: "Brazil nuts and the variation in their selenium content". You can read it right here. What I took from it is that Brazil nuts differ greatly in their content of selenium, depending on where they come from and whether they are shelled or not. But nonetheless, eating just two per day does increase selenium levels in the blood. At least it did in a study in New Zealand, a country in which selenium intake is low as well.

So eating those two a day may have been useful after all!