Selenium is one of the main essential trace minerals that play a major role in regulating many of the body processes. Studies have shown that selenium is helpful in improving your cognitive function and immune system. It was also found that selenium is a mineral that is beneficial in DNA synthesis and the metabolism of thyroid hormone.
According to experts, an adult should consume around 70 mcg of selenium each day. There are many plant-based foods that are rich in selenium. Before you look at the best plant-based sources of selenium let’s look at some of the health benefits offered by selenium.
Possesses Antioxidant Effects
One of the main benefits of selenium is its antioxidant properties. That means selenium could help in fighting the free radical molecules and prevent the oxidative stress that can lead to cell damage. Even though free radicals are essential for your health, they can lead to oxidative stress when it becomes excess due to smoking, stress, alcohol use, etc.
It is very essential to prevent oxidative stress because it can lead to many chronic diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Eating more foods that are rich in selenium can help in preventing oxidative stress and thereby reduce the risk of these chronic health conditions.
Reduces Cancer Risk
According to some of the recent studies, including more selenium-rich foods in your daily diet can help in significantly reducing the risk of developing certain forms of cancer. It is mainly because of the ability of selenium to reduce oxidative stress and DNA damage. Many studies have also shown that selenium could boost your immune system.
A recent study has linked higher levels of selenium in blood to a lower risk of developing lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer. You should note that these effects of selenium were only observed in selenium that is found in your food, not supplements.
Improves Thyroid Health
Studies have found that selenium is important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. In fact, the amount of selenium in the thyroid tissue is higher than in any other organs. Selenium plays a major role in the production of thyroid hormones. It is important to have a healthy thyroid gland because it can control your growth and development and can also regulate your metabolism.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a common type of hyperthyroidism is linked to the deficiency of selenium. According to a recent study, the risk of autoimmune thyroiditis and hyperthyroidism is higher in people with low levels of selenium in their bodies. Therefore, when doing healthy meal prep, try adding more selenium-rich foods.
Reduces Asthma Symptoms
People with asthma have difficulty breathing sometimes. This is caused by the inflammation in the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. Inflamed and narrow airways can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. Recent studies have linked increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress to asthma.
Selenium is proven to be effective in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in your body and that is the reason why many health experts are recommending selenium-rich foods to people with asthma. Many studies have found that the levels of selenium are lower in the body of asthma patients. If you have asthma, taking selenium supplements could also help in reducing its symptoms.
Here are some of the best plant-based sources of selenium.
Brown rice is a good plant-based source of selenium. You will get around 19 mcg of selenium from just one cup of cooked brown rice. This is around 27% of your daily requirement of selenium.
Brazil nuts are the best vegan source of selenium. Just one ounce of Brazil nuts can provide around 544 mcg of selenium. Eating a serving of Brazil nuts a few times a week is more than enough to avoid selenium deficiency.
Mushrooms and fungi are packed with several nutrients, including selenium. You will get around 12 mcg of selenium from just a 100-gram serving of mushrooms.
Just ¼ cup of sunflower seeds can provide around 19 mcg of selenium. That is one of the reasons why they are considered a great snack. Including sunflower seeds in your daily diet can help in increasing your selenium intake and prevent many health problems.
One ounce of roasted cashews can provide around 3 mcg of selenium. Even though it is not a great amount, it helps when you are following a vegan diet.
Spinach is one of the most popular leafy green vegetables available in the market. It is packed with a lot of nutrients, including selenium and vitamin C. You will get around 11 mcg of selenium from just one cup of cooked spinach.