Food is an integral part of modern society, as we’re often eating for pleasure and in social situations. For many of us, the way our food tastes and looks is just as important as the nutrients that it contains. But, getting the right nutrient balance is critical, which is why today we’re talking about chromium rich foods.
We’ve highlighted a variety of nutrients and macronutrients in previous posts, including iron, protein, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B12. Chromium is just as important as any of these, although it isn’t as well-known,
This isn’t too surprising, as chromium is a trace element. This means that it is essential for health, but we don’t need a large amount of it. Many people will already get all their chromium requirements from food without even trying.
However, there may be some advantages to increasing your chromium intake. Doing so may be important for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, as the chromium may help them to manage their glucose levels and become more sensitive to insulin.
While we don’t know how much chromium humans need for optimal functioning, there are daily adequate intakes. Based on these, men should be consuming around 35 mcg of chromium per day, while women need 25 mcg instead. These requirements decrease once a person is above 50 years of age and are higher for breastfeeding women.
You might get benefits from higher amounts of chromium than this, but the daily intakes are a good place to begin.
Chromium Rich Foods
- Whole Grains
- Green Beans
- Grape Juice
- Nutritional Yeast
Broccoli is one of the highest food sources of chromium, offering around 11 mcg of the compound in a half cup serving. This gives you a little less than a third of the daily intake for males.
The chromium content of broccoli highlights an important pattern – most foods don’t contain much chromium at all. You’re often looking at less than 10% of your daily intake of chromium in a serving or even less than 5%, and this is for foods that are relatively high in chromium.
Thankfully, chromium is present in many foods, so the low amounts shouldn’t matter too much.
It’s also worth mentioning that these chromium levels are just estimates. There is always some natural variation in the amount of nutrients present in food, as nutrient composition can be influenced by many factors.
Chromium is more complicated still, as the levels of the compound may be changed by aspects of the manufacturing and agricultural processes. There may even be problems with the analysis of chromium levels. This means that the levels of chromium we’re talking about in this list are best considered to be a rough guide – nothing more.
Whole grains tend to offer chromium too. This means that you get chromium from the grains themselves and also from any product that relies on whole grains, including whole grain bread and pasta.
When possible, it’s best to focus on minimally processed whole grain foods. Many products grind up the grains to make flour and use them like that. While you still end up with the nutrients from the whole grains, the flour tends to spike your blood sugar much faster than the grains would on their own – and you don’t get nearly as many benefits.
Thankfully, many companies do focus on keeping grains whole as much as possible. You should be able to find healthy choices with a little bit of shopping around.
You don’t need to just stick to grains either. Pseudocereals (also called pseudograins) are similar to grains in many ways. The main difference is that they don’t come from cereal crops, which also means that many end up being gluten free.
The similarities between grains and pseudocereals mean that many of these grain alternatives will contain chromium as well.
Oats are a type of whole grain, but we’re talking about them separately because most of us don’t think about oats when we talk about whole grains. Oats have some distinct advantages too, as they’re high in fiber and may help to decrease cholesterol levels.
Having oats for breakfast is a popular approach, as you end up with a filling meal that may keep you going for hours.
Oats also happen to be gluten free. However, anyone who is highly sensitive to gluten will need to be careful in the brand of oats that they choose to use. Oats are often contaminated with gluten, so it’s best to look for products that focus on being gluten free.
Herbs and spices are often fantastic for increasing your trace mineral intake. A teaspoon of dried garlic, for example, contains around 3 mcg of chromium.
That serving size is an amount that you might use while cooking, making garlic and easy way to boost your chromium intake. Besides, garlic is already a popular choice for cooking, as it adds a delicious flavor to your meals.
Garlic has also been linked to many health benefits over the years. This includes the ability to improve blood cholesterol levels, to lower blood pressure, and to help the immune system.
Dried basil is another easy choice for chromium. It offers close to the same amount of chromium as garlic and can be used just as easily. You may even find yourself using garlic and basil in the same recipe from time-to-time.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is another source of chromium. The amounts here are similar to other items on this list, so you’re not getting a lot of chromium per serving, but you are getting some.
You have plenty of options too, as you can focus on whatever cut of chicken or turkey you like. You might even consider less common birds, like duck or goose.
Beef contains some chromium too. This is probably the case for most types of meat, although details on chromium levels aren’t complete or reliable, so the differences between various types of meat aren’t clear.
Still, meat is a useful addition to a healthy diet. It is high in protein, along with compounds like vitamin B12 that are hard to find in plants.
Many people recommend focusing on grass-fed beef, as the meat may have a better nutrient balance and fewer contaminants. Even though the difference in chromium levels between grass-fed and grain-fed beef isn’t clear, grass-fed tends to be a better choice if you can afford it.
And, on a related note, organ meats like liver may be particularly good as a source of chromium. This isn’t too surprising, as organ meats tend to be rich in nutrients (this is a key reason why many people eat them regularly).
If you don’t like the idea of using organ meats, you could try cutting the meat up and mixing it in with other meat before cooking. You might manage to hide the flavor of the organ meat entirely.
While potatoes have long been a staple at the dinner table, they have become more controversial in recent years. Some people are concerned about the carb content of these root vegetables and feel that it is best to focus on low carb foods.
Yet, high carb foods aren’t always bad for you. Many of them are highly nutritious and provide various benefits. Potatoes are one example of this pattern. They contain many compounds that you need to stay healthy, including chromium.
Green beans are another vegetable to consider for chromium. They’re naturally low in calories and can be easily served as a side dish next to whatever meal you’re making.
The freshness of the beans is appealing too. You might even find that you simply cook and eat them as a snack.
Grape juice is the most significant fruit-based source of chromium, with a cup of the juice containing around 8 mcg of the mineral. Grape juice also tends to be rich in plant-based compounds, including polyphenols.
Oh, and on a side note, this does mean that wine offers chromium as well. Not surprisingly, there is more chromium in red wine than in white wine and the amount does vary from one product to the next. Still, people who drink a glass of red wine most days probably get a decent amount of their chromium from their wine.
Fruit often contains some chromium, although the amounts are typically lower than with herbs, spices, and vegetables. For example, a medium apple or banana tends to contain around 1 mcg of chromium.
This also means that you can look at other fruit juices, like orange juice.
However, fruit juice is always something to be careful with. Although the juice does provide you with nutrients from fruit, you do miss out in some areas. Fruit juice lacks the fiber and substance that you find with a piece of fruit too, which makes it easy to drink too much juice in a serving.
The other problem is, of course, sugar content. The sugar in fruit may be better for you than added sugar in processed foods, but it is still sugar. A glass of juice also happens to contain a lot of sugar, so you need to be careful with the amount that you drink.
Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient for vegans, partly because it has a cheesy flavor, even though it doesn’t have anything to do with cheese at all. As the name suggests, nutritional yeast is just yeast.
But, unlike the yeast that you use to make bread, nutritional yeast has been deactivated. This means that it won’t interact with your food at all and still provides all the nutritional benefits that you find with regular yeast.
Nutritional yeast can be used as an ingredient or simply scattered on top of food. Many people take the latter approach, using the yeast as a way to make food taste cheesy.
Tomatoes work as a chromium source too, even though you only get around 1.2 mcg of the mineral in a cup of tomatoes. Still, tomatoes are very easy to use. They can be eaten raw or cooked. You can also turn to tomato sauce, tomato puree, and tomato paste for easy sources of the compounds from tomatoes.
Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to a variety of benefits. There are surprisingly few foods that offer lycopene, so this compound might be one reason to increase your tomato intake.