Selenium is a truly magnificent nutrient because of all the benefits women get from it. For starters, selenium is needed for the thyroid to function optimally. Why is the thyroid so important? Well, it produces hormones that regulate metabolism, the heart, digestion, brain development, and bone maintenance. Sounds pretty serious right? Women's hormones change continuously and selenium is important in finding the proper balance whether it is for your cycle, pregnancy, postnatal, or menopause. In addition, selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can protect against free radicals and cancer. Read on as ABC Nutrition highlights some vegetable and vegetarian options for selenium.
A. Brazil Nuts- Raw brazil nuts are just about the best source of selenium. As mentioned in the title, 6-8 brazil nuts provides over 100% of the recommended value of selenium and helps regulate the thyroid. It’s recommended healthy adult women is consume 55mcg and pregnant or breastfeeding women consume 60-70 mcg. Brazil nuts also provide a host of other vital ingredients such as fiber, magnesium, and copper as well as a snack size dose of protein. 6 to 8 brazil nuts coupled with a piece of fruit is a great mid-afternoon snack.
B. Asparagus- High in many, many nutrients, 1 cup of cooked asparagus has about 20% of your daily recommendation for selenium. When cooking vegetables, it is best to steam them. You lose too many nutrients boiling veggies. If you prefer boiling veggies, save the water to make a broth for soup so the nutrients are not wasted. Sprinkling a teaspoon of parmesan cheese onto your roasted asparagus is a popular way to enjoy. Or squeeze a lemon wedge onto some steamed asparagus for a refreshing side dish.
C. Peanut Butter- This is a favorite for many people. Who doesn’t love the nostalgic feeling you get when preparing a peanut butter and jelly? Peanut butter can get a bad rep for being high in fat. However there are also health benefits to this nut butter. Choose a natural peanut butter without too many ingredients. If you see, high fructose corn syrup on the label, put it down. You can also grind your own fresh peanut butter at many stores. Peanut butter energy balls are a no-bake, quick and easy recipe to add some more selenium to your diet. All you need is ground flax seed, peanut butter, and dates or raw honey. Include any nuts or dried fruits you would like to add. Be creative! Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and roll into little balls using a teaspoon to measure. Kids love these! Keep cold in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy.
Combine two to three of these sources and make a healthy meal, such as asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and selenium. Selenium is found in adequate amounts in many animal products such as tuna, shrimp, lamb, turkey, and beef. Since vegetarian sources are lower in selenium than animal sources, it’s important to combine two or three of these foods to up the selenium and make a healthy meal- for example a stir fry of asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and spinach.