What is Selenium?
Selenium is a mineral naturally found in the soil, water, and certain foods, including the selenium-rich foods detailed below.
The mineral is essential for the human body, as it plays critical roles in reproduction, thyroid function, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection.
But the mineral has gained most of its traction related to its antioxidant content, which helps protect cells against damage. The mineral has shown some pretty impressive benefits, including reducing the risks of heart disease, prostate cancer, Crohn’s disease, and infertility.
Interestingly, too, the selenium content of the food is largely dependent on geographical location and soil condition. In fact, selenium concentrations have shown to be higher in the in the Midwest and West compared to those living in South and Northeast geographical locations.
Despite such variances, selenium deficiency is rare in the U.S. and the American population is likely to achieve the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), or 55 micrograms per day (mcg) for individuals 14 and older.
12 Foods High in Selenium
1. Brazil Nuts
1275 mcg per ½ cup
Yes, you read that amount correctly… Brazil nuts are the richest food source of selenium and supply well over the daily recommended intake of the mineral.
Although brazil nuts are acclaimed for their potent selenium content, they are supply monounsaturated fat, protein, and zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and B vitamins.
Compelling evidence even shows ingesting a single serving of Brazil nuts can improve the serum lipid profile of healthy volunteers!
265 mcg per one turkey breast
Along with standing tall with selenium, that Thanksgiving star is a reputable lean protein source supplying adequate iron, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus during all times of the year!
And while dark meat does contain extra fat and calories, it does supply more selenium (and other nutrients) compared to white cuts.
215 mcg per 4-ounces
That “other white meat” was once kicked in the mud related to its high-fat protein reputation.
But the nutritional content of pork is actually quite transparent, including its laden selenium content, and common fresh cuts are leaner today than they were nearly two decades ago – on average about 16 percent lower in total fat and 27 percent lower in saturated fat. In fact, pork tenderloin is now as lean as skinless chicken breast!
But just like any animal protein, it is important to not pig out on pork, stick to controlled portion sizes (3 to 4 ounces), and balance with plant-based foods.
4. Grassfed Beef
143 mcg per 3-ounces
Got beef with beef? Newer evidence weakens the battle and suggests moderated portions and servings of lean red meat is part of a heart-healthy diet!
So not only is beef power-packed with selenium, but is a rich source of protein, zinc, and iron. Grassfed beef has further been shown to boast a heftier nutritional profile, sporting a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids shown to lessen inflammation in the body and the risk of heart disease.
111 mcg per 1 cup of light, canned tuna
Nothing fishy over here… Tuna is hooked with selenium, along being rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Tuna is also one of the richest sources of niacin, which has been shown to improve heart and mental health.
82 mcg per 1 salmon filet
Like tuna, salmon is a netted wealth of selenium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
A salmon filet also provides a little over 1,000 milligrams of potassium, a duel mineral and electrolyte shown to decrease the risk of certain health conditions and diseases, including hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.
76 mcg per 3-ounces cooked
Don’t clam up on these mollusks… In addition to supplying ample selenium, mussels open up to a pretty impressive nutritional profile!
Mussels are an extra lean protein source loaded with vitamin B-12, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
8. Sunflower Seeds
53 mcg per ½ cup
Sunflower seeds might be small and seem dainty, but oh how they pack a nutritional punch!
Along with supplying (almost) the RDA of selenium, sunflower seeds are potent in polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium.
Sunflower seeds also contain phytosterols, which are plant compounds structurally related to cholesterol. When present in the body, phytosterols have shown significantly lower LDL cholesterol, or the type of “bad” cholesterol linked to heart disease.
9. Pinto Beans
54 mcg per 1 cup raw beans
Along with bean’s notorious supply of plant-based protein and fiber, they are also a valuable source of selenium and other nutrients.
Incorporating more beans and plant-based foods can help lower the risk of numerous chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer, and add on extra years of healthy living.
10. Shiitake Mushrooms
36 mcg per 1 cup
Don’t let their fungus categorization scare you off, shiitakes are packed with selenium and deserve shroom in the diet!
Shiitakes are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, a vitamin linked to good bone, immune, and mental health.
11. Wheat Flour
37 mcg per ½ cup
Opting for wheat over white flours is commonly recommended to obtain more nutrients, including selenium. According to The Journal of Nutrition whole wheat flour and breads have shown to contain two to four times more selenium than did white flour and breads!
Needless to say, the refining process strips out the selenium content, along with fiber, B vitamins, and other beneficial nutrients sourced from a whole grain.
69 mcg per 1 cup
Barley is often hidden under oats and wheat products, though the whole grain is quite the impresser! Along with its burly supply of selenium, barley is laden in fiber, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.
A fascinating meta-analysis published in the BMJ found consuming 90 grams (about three servings) of whole grains daily is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and death from all causes. Furthermore, even eating two daily servings can reduce the risk of dying prematurely from any cause by 15 percent!