Sulfur has a wide range of therapeutic characteristics that can work wonders for the body. Regular consumption of food items that contain sulfur can reduce oxidative stress, increase antioxidant levels, and also protect the body against inflammation.
Sulfur is commonly found in onions, garlic, protein-rich foods, eggs, and meat. Our body needs it in small amounts daily. While it has several health benefits, a deficiency of sulfur can negatively impact our health, and an excess of it can also be harmful.
Read on to learn about the importance of sulfur in our body, its sources, top food items that contain sulfur and sulfur intolerance.
Health Benefits of Sulfur
Sulfur has multiple health benefits.
- It is crucial for the production of glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant. Glutathione protects the cells from damage and supports liver health.
- Furthermore, we need sulfur to metabolize drugs, steroids, and compounds that are not produced in our bodies. These compounds usually come from environmental pollutants and additives. Since our body cannot process them naturally, we need an adequate sulfur intake.
- Sulfur is also great for our skin. It is commonly used in products used for acne, dandruff, and skin rashes. Sulfur also works as an antidote for exposure to radioactive materials.
[Read: Collagen Rich Foods]
Foods High in Sulfur
There are many foods that contain sulfur. These foods come from both plants and animals and can make for some delicious as well as nutritious recipes.
Animal Sources of Sulfur
Sulfur is naturally found in animals that provide us with food items like eggs and meat. In some countries, sulfur is also added as a preservative to the meat. Therefore, humans receive an ample amount of sulfur from animals. These countries have strict regulations regarding the amount of sulfur that can be used as a preservative.
Eggs(1) contain a good amount of sulfur. Its smell elucidates that it is rich in sulfur and hence beneficial for health. Sulfur is found in the egg yolk. Furthermore, eggs are also a rich source of protein and minerals like iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Eggs can be consumed in a number of ways and are very easy to be included in daily meals.
[Read: Foods High In Probiotics]
Fish is rich in sulfur-containing amino acids known as cysteine and methionine. It contains 3-6 % sulfur amino acids along with other nutrients like vitamin D and vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. It is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish is a popular form of lean meat across the globe, and hence, you can consume it in diverse ways. You can have it as sushi, in a sandwich, or even as a curry.
Chicken is one of the foods that contain the highest sulfur. It is estimated that one serving of boiled chicken contains 300 milligrams of sulfur. It is usually present in the form of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in chicken.
Chicken can be consumed in a variety of forms including, salads, sandwiches, pasta, curry, roast, and more.
[Read: Foods High In Probiotics]
Sulfur is naturally present in beef. It is found in the form of a sulfur-containing amino acid called cysteine. This chemical facilitates iron absorption in the human body and is found at levels 10,000-16,000 mg/kg. Beef is one of the most commonly consumed meats across the globe and has hundreds of recipes to its credit. Consuming it in any possible way supplies the body with healthy amounts of sulfur.
Cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese contain sulfur in healthy amounts. The sulfur in these cheese is derived from amino acids such as methionine and cysteine. Consuming cheddar and parmesan on a regular basis replenishes the body with calcium, fat, protein, and minerals, like zinc, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
6. Plant Sources
Sulfur is one of the prime chemicals present in plants(2). It is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll and the production of amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and enzymes. Sulfur also protects the plants against diseases, helps in seed formation, and also aids in their growth. This sulfur gets passed on to us when we consume vegetables or different parts of the plants.
[Read: Hemoglobin Rich Foods]
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables(3) like cauliflower, arugula, bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, and radishes are rich in sulfur. They contain a compound called glucosinolates, which is a compound that contains sulfur and has anti-cancer effects.
Cruciferous vegetables can be cooked and consumed in multiple ways. The best way to consume them will be to eat them raw in the form of salads.
8. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts have proteins that are high in sulfur content. They are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nuts have amino acids like cysteine and methionine and are also rich in glutamine, arginine, and glutamic acid. Brazil nuts offer energy and are one of the best sources of selenium. It also has copper, fiber, carbs, manganese, vitamin E, and zinc.
Brazil nuts can be added to salads, smoothies, cakes, cookies, pesto, and other delicious recipes.
Quinoa(4) is a rich source of sulfur. It contains methionine and cystine in high amounts. It is one of the rare plant foods that contain sufficient quantities of all the nine essential amino acids. Furthermore, quinoa is loaded with calcium phosphorus, vitamin E, iron, and beneficial antioxidants.
Quinoa can be steamed and consumed with curries and soups, and it can be added to salads, made into a casserole, and eaten with sautéed vegetables.
[Read: Foods High In Estrogen]
Sulfur Intolerance and How to Treat It?
Sulfur intolerance is when the human body negatively reacts to sulfur present in food items. This happens when the body fails to metabolize sulfur into sulfate effectively.
Signs and symptoms of sulfur intolerance include brain fog, gas and bloating, joint pain, headaches, constipation, and skin issues like eczema. Sulfur is capable of producing a variety of side effects.
A high level of sulfur amino acids in the body is linked with obesity and lifestyle health problems like diabetes. Sulfur amino acids also increase oxidative stress in the heart and may contribute to fatty liver diseases.
You can opt for a low sulfur diet and/or consult a physician to mitigate the symptoms of sulfur intolerance.
Sulfur is among the most important minerals in our body and is essential for various body functions. It is also a part of the amino-acids that are crucial for the growth of muscles and tissues. While there are many reasons to consume sulfur-rich foods, there are some downsides due to excessive sulfur in the body. If you encounter any of the previously mentioned symptoms without any apparent cause, you should talk to your physician.
1. Is Sulfur Harmful to Our Bodies?
Sulfur in small amounts is good for our health, but when consumed in large numbers, it can cause various health issues.
2. What Is the Recommended Daily Dose of Sulfur?
There is no recommended daily dosage for sulfur. It is naturally found in foods like dairy, eggs, poultry, seafood, garlic, turnips, and broccoli.
3. Are There Medicinal Health Supplements for Sulfur?
Sulfur is available as a supplement in the form of capsules and powder.