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Brazil Nut PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 May 2009 10:06
Brazil nut
The Brazil Nut is a South American tree Bertholletia excelsa in the family Lecythidaceae. It is the only species in the genus Bertholletia

The Brazil nut is a South American tree Bertholletia excelsa in the family Lecythidaceae, and also the name of the tree's commercially harvested edible seeds.

The Brazil nut tree is the only species in the 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, and the Orinoco. The genus is named after the French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet.

It is a large tree, reaching 30–45 metres (100–150 ft) tall and 1–2 metres (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 centimetre long and 10–15 centimetres broad. The flowers are small, greenish-white, in panicles 5–10 centimetres 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 nuts for international trade come entirely from wild collection rather than from plantations. This has been advanced as a model for generating income from a tropical forest without destroying it. The nuts are gathered by migrant workers known as castanheiros.

Brazil nuts are 18% protein, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat. The fat breakdown is roughly 25% saturated, 41% monounsaturated, and 34% polyunsaturated. They are somewhat earthy in flavor. The saturated fat content of Brazil nuts is among the highest of all nuts, surpassing even macadamia nuts. Because of the resulting rich taste, Brazil nuts can often substitute for macadamia nuts or even coconuts in recipes. Shelled Brazil nuts soon become rancid. The nuts are also pressed for oil.
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