Recently I have found brazil nuts right out of their shell are much more flavorful (generally) than when you buy them without their shell. Some companies seem to provide fresher shelled nuts than others. Years ago I read somewhere that it is better to shell nuts and seeds yourself (that they stay fresher longer that way). Each brazil nut can taste different and look slightly different. Sadly, one was all black inside and I swear a ton of spores went flying out when I cracked it open and this puff of dark smoke came out-yuck. We found the OXO nut cracker is a vast improvement to the more standard nut cracker. Why eat brazil nuts? One, they taste a little like coconut and two, the selenium my friend the selenium!
Note, as quoted below, Wiki points out, Europe has a ban on the import of brazil nuts in the shell. I just read this so now I will research aflatoxins. I understand there was proposed U.S. ban on raw almonds (the plan was to require them to be irradiated b/c of the aflatoxins as I recall). I think aflatoxins are the reason peanut butter is going out of style. We choose sunflower butter. However you get them, you might think about getting a few nuts and seeds a day (generally not more than an ounce a day). Wholefoods makes a simple and delicious sesame seed brittle (it includes sunflower seeds and almonds); you’ll find it there in clear plastic boxes (I appreciate that they are not individually wrapped).
Wiki on Aflatoxin: “Medical research indicates that a regular diet including apiaceous vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery and parsley, reduces the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin.”
Wikipedia on Brazil Nuts: “Nutritionally, Brazil nuts are a good source of magnesium and thiamine, and are perhaps the richest dietary source 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 as well as 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.
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. According to Tony Farndell, MD of TFR Nuts and Dried Fruits Ltd, a UK importer, the import restrictions on in-shell kernels came as a result of the whole nut including the shell, being ground down for testing. Thus aflatoxins were detected and the restrictions imposed.”