If you’re big on only eating healthy, dieting, and/or “bio-hacking” as it’s referred to by most blogging platforms dedicated to health and wellness, then you have most probably come across the name, “Selenium”. Research indicates Selenium is as important for your health as any other nutrient but is only needed in small amounts.
What is Selenium and Why Do You Need It?
Selenium is a trace mineral that the body needs in small amounts to stay healthy. It plays a role in the following bodily functions:
- The Reproductive System: Selenium promotes healthy follicles in the ovaries where eggs are developed. It also increases fertility in men by improving sperm motility.
- Preventing Cell Damage: Selenium assists in the production of a certain protein called antioxidant enzymes. These enzymes are used to protect cells.
- Thyroid Gland Function: Selenium plays an important role in the metabolism of thyroid hormones by removing oxygen free radicals released during the process.
How Much Selenium Does an Individual Need?
The minimum intake you need each day varies with age. Check out the average daily requirement recommended by health experts.
Selenium exists naturally in many foods. When it comes to plants, the amount of selenium they contain depends on how much was present in the soil they were grown in. As for meats, it depends on how much selenium was present in their diets.
Here are 10 foods high in selenium including meat and plants that are naturally rich in selenium as well as some exciting recipes to keep things interesting.
1. Brazil Nuts
Let us start with a food that has the most concentrated amount of Selenium- the Brazil nut. Brazilian nuts are so potent in selenium that just one nut contains more than your daily requirement(over 90mcg per nut).
For that reason, it’s probably best to pace yourself while consuming them. Too much selenium in the system can become toxic so your safest bet is to stick to 1-3 a day. You can toss a couple into your salad to give it an interesting flavor and to add the crunch factor.
Tuna is a saltwater fish and almost everyone’s favorite. Did you know that 3 ounces of cooked Tuna contain approximately 92 mcg of selenium?
There are about 15 known species of tuna but for a selenium-rich meal, you’d want to look for Yellowfin Tuna. According to the National Institute of Health, seafood is an excellent source of selenium. 1-2 servings of tuna, shrimp, sardines, or halibut a day spells better health and vitality for you in the long-term.
There are many simple and quick recipes you can try out to make fish a regular part of your daily meal. Check out this delicious and easy-to-prepare 6-minute recipe for seared ahi-tuna steaks. Ahi tuna is the Hawaiian name for the Yellow Fin.
While you’re exploring recipes remember that the proportions of the ingredients used do play an important role in making a healthy calorie-friendly meal.
3. Shellfish (Oysters)
If you’re a lover of seafood, you’re in luck because you don’t have to limit yourself to Tuna. Shellfish is another great source for your required daily selenium intake although I’d strongly urge caution when it comes to shellfish. Depending on the environment they’ve been nurtured in shellfish can be toxic too.
The poison in them, known as ciguatera or sometimes scombroid, comes from the algae they eat and they’re resistant to heat so cooking them won’t help you either. Always buy them from a trusted supplier.
If you’re allergic to seafood don’t worry, there’s plenty of other options in meats alone. Red meat, beef in particular is an abundant source of selenium as well as other vital nutrients such as protein, Vitamin B6 and B12, zinc, iron, and much more.
The beef however like all red meats contains high amounts of saturated fat, and seeing as you’d have to eat a couple of servings to get your daily required intake, it’s best to integrate beef into healthier low-calorie meals such as this quick-and-easy stir fry dish with broccoli.
Turkey is another food that happens to be right up there with beef when it comes to its selenium content. That also means you’ll need to consume up to about 2-3 servings for the full nutritional value. It is, however, a much healthier option than beef since it has fewer calories.
Your body receives approximately 31 mcg of selenium from 3 ounces of boneless turkey.
The best way to consume it would be in a sandwich with fortified whole wheat bread, it’ll give you the extra selenium you need to meet your daily requirement. This delicious turkey sandwich recipe is not only nutritious but very filling too.
Poultry is another naturally rich source of selenium and is consumed by most of us daily. The fact that it’s easily available, leaner and healthier makes it one of the most ideal foods high in selenium. It is also rich in proteins and essential fats.
There are many things that you can do with chicken and many meals you already consume that include chicken so there’s little point in sharing recipes here although we recommend you go for the best cuts and try to combine it with leafy vegetables for a healthier meal.
Eggs are a rich source of high-quality proteins and Omega 3- fatty acids. While they’d rate a little under chicken for their selenium content, they are a very healthy option. You will however need to consume 2-3 servings per day if you’re trying to meet your body’s selenium needs through eggs alone. For the best results, add eggs to your toasts, sandwiches, or salads.
Broccoli like many other greens on your table is an excellent source of selenium. Other good examples include spinach and beans. But I personally find veggies on their own quite boring and unappetizing and I prefer pairing them up with meats. You may find this soup recipe quite interesting. It’s not only healthy but lip-smacking delicious as well.
9. Fortified foods
Food fortification is the process of adding micronutrients to food to enrich them. Cereals, milk, and non-dairy alternatives are generally fortified with trace minerals such as selenium by manufacturers.
If you’re too busy to cook, there’s always fortified foods to help you get that necessary intake. Don’t forget to check the nutrition label on the packaging before buying them.
10. Selenium in Supplement Form
If you’re a picky eater and can’t decide what to eat or just really busy to cook, you should consider taking Selenium in supplement form. That way you’ll never have to worry about whether you’re meeting your daily requirements.
Too much selenium can become toxic so be sure to check with your doctor or dietician before using dietary supplements.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients is vital for good health. The foods we choose make a difference in whether feeding diseases or fighting them. These are just some of the foods high in selenium, and some exciting dishes that you can make to take care of your taste buds as well as your health.