Selenium is one of those obscure minerals that has yet to become as recognizable as calcium or potassium, but definitely deserves the same attention. As one of many important trace minerals, we require a small amount of selenium in our diet daily. Selenium is an antioxidant, helping to fight damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals damage cells, especially DNA, which can lead to disease, cancer and rapid aging. Antioxidants prevent and reduce the damage that free radicals cause. Consistent and sufficient levels of selenium in the diet have been shown to be a preventative against certain cancers ranging from prostate to lung cancer.
Much like vitamin C, selenium is required by the immune system for proper functioning, building up white blood cells, which boost the body’s ability to fight illness and infection. Selenium also plays an important role in thyroid function, making it essential for the normal development and growth of the body, as well as for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Selenium deficiency is often a root cause of thyroid-related problems, and its simple addition to the diet can improve the condition quickly.
While American soil, in which most of our produce grows, is rich in selenium, it is a common deficiency in American diets. Alcohol, smoking, weight-loss surgeries and birth control pills can all deplete the body of this mineral. It is best to eat food sources of selenium rather than supplement form because it can be toxic if taken at high levels. Take a cue from our list of functional-food favorites, and see how you can easily add selenium into your culinary routine:
Top 3 Selenium-Rich Foods
If you are familiar with selenium at all, then there is a good chance that you have heard that Brazil nuts are an amazing food source. Just three to four Brazil nuts contain your recommended daily allowance, helping you to reach your quota quite quickly. Reach for Pressed Juicery’s latest seasonal special, a sweet and creamy blend of Brazil-nuts, kale, spinach and romaine. Now that’s an easy way to get your selenium!
The exotic shiitake mushroom is one of the highest sources of selenium. Compounded with its extraordinary cancer-fighting properties, eating these mushrooms a few times a week can do a body good. Our favorite way to eat them? This Smoked Shiitake Dragon Roll shared by Matthew Kenney’s culinary school. 100% raw and vegan, it is much easier to make than it looks.
The sheer sight of ahi tuna on a menu gets us excited, so when we learned that it was one of most selenium-dense foods, we felt even more justified in ordering it. Also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, ahi is the premier choice for lowering inflammation and improving cognitive functioning. Try this Ahi Tuna Sandwich with Spinach Pesto Yogurt and you will be thanking us shortly.