Is Your Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Level High? These Chromium Rich Foods Can Help You Out
Some minerals are needed in small amounts in our body but they play an extremely important role in the overall health. Chromium is one such important mineral without which several metabolic functions will fail to work properly. Let’s go through all about chromium and its health benefits.
Chromium – How it benefits our body?
Chromium is a dietary mineral found in small amounts in our body. It’s most important job is to regulate blood sugar by enhancing the role of insulin as well as properly metabolizing fat and protein. Though our body needs chromium in small amounts, it plays a vital role in several bodily functions.
Regulates blood sugar and prevent diabetes
Chromium enhances the role of insulin hormone which is responsible for regulating blood glucose in the body. It also supports healthy metabolism and storage of nutrients across the body. This is because it can be helpful in absorbing and distributing the nutrient derived from carbs and proteins in a better way.
Lowers high cholesterol levels
As chromium is needed for normal metabolization of fats, study shows there is a link between high chromium intake and healthier arteries and blood cholesterol levels. Some other studies suggest that people who die from heart disease have low level of chromium in their body.
Boosts brain health and cognitive ability
Chromium is specifically linked to hypothalamus, the portion of brain which establishes link between nervous and endocrine system. Hypothalamus also controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, sleep and emotional activities. Studies suggest that chromium helps keep hypothalamus in a more youthful state.
Boosts energy levels
Chromium along with magnesium and calcium are especially beneficial for people who are active. This is because these nutrients are necessary to ensure our body’s capacity to enhance calorie expenditure, muscle and performance, especially during workouts.
Improves eye health
Chromium can be beneficial in protecting you from age-related eye disorders such as glaucoma. The glaucoma is linked to diabetes and caused by fluid buildup in the eye which can be harmful, resulting in blindness in severe cases. Chromium lowers the risk of glaucoma by acting as a protective shield against diabetes.
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How much chromium is necessary for optimal health?
Chromium is naturally derived from the healthy balanced diet. The daily reference intake (DRIs) for chromium has been suggested by Health and Medical Division, National Academy of Sciences. The daily intake is based on age and sex.
- 0-6 months - 0.2 mcg
- 7-12 months - 5.5 mcg
- 1-3 years - 11 mcg
- 4-8 years - 15 mcg
- Boys 9-13 years - 25 mcg
- Girls 9-13 years - 21 mcg
- Boys 14-18 years - 35 mcg
- Girls 14-18 years - 24 mcg
- Men 19-50 years - 35 mcg
- Women 19-50 years - 25 mcg
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- During pregnancy - 30 mcg
- Breastfeeding - 35 mcg
Side effects of chromium deficiency and overdose
Reports of human deficiency of chromium are rare. However, in case of deficiency, one may experience impaired glucose intolerance, especially old people with type 2 diabetes and infants with protein malnutrition. The deficiency may also lead to higher chances of atherosclerosis and other heart conditions. It may also result in poor skin health, poor eye health, change in weight and appetite and low energy.
Due to low absorption and high rate of excretion, chromium toxicity or overdose is very rare. And since there is lack of consensus amongst experts about the role of chromium with and without other trace minerals, it is not recommended to take supplements.
Can chromium deficiency be restored by specific foods?
Presently, there isn’t any particular source of reliable information regarding chromium content in a food. Other important factors that make it difficult to figure out chromium content is the place or soil quality where the food was grown, season, species of plant, etc. However, below foods have high chromium content according to United States Department of Agriculture.
Vegetables rich in chromium
Nutritional superstar, broccoli is a wonderful source of chromium. This healthiest vegetable is known for its nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6. Steamed broccoli is a good idea to add chromium in the diet.
Dietary value – 1 cup cooked broccoli can provide 22 mcg of chromium, about 88 percent daily requirement of an adult woman.
Mashed potatoes (aaloo bharta)
A staple dish in the Indian subcontinent, potatoes has tons of benefits. It has high potassium, zinc and phosphorus content, plus you get a decent amount of chromium. Potatoes are also good for people with gluten intolerance.
Dietary value – 1 cup of mashed potato will give 3 mcg, 12 percent of the daily requirement.
Used as a flavour booster in hundreds of dishes, garlic is an amazing food when it comes to providing sulphur and chromium. You can use garlic in meat preparations, pastas, curries and topping the pizzas.
Dietary value – 1 teaspoon of dry garlic contains 3 mcg of chromium. This is 12 percent of the daily recommendation.
Basil or otherwise called as tulsi has therapeutic power. The benefits date back to ancient times. Tulsi is known for fighting acne, stress, and good for dental health.
Dietary value - 1 tablespoon can give you 2 mcg of chromium, which is 8 percent of the daily dietary requirement.
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Fruits rich in chromium
Grape juice (pure, unsweetened)
Besides an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and numerous other minerals, grapes are your best bet to get decent amount of chromium. Juice, pure and unsweetened will give you maximum benefit.
Dietary value – 1 cup of grape juice can give 8 mcg of chromium. This is 32 percent of the total recommended daily intake.
The citrus fruit is renowned for its healthy dose of vitamin C. And when it comes to chromium, you have another reason for including this food in your daily diet.
Dietary value – 1 cup orange juice contains 2 mcg of chromium, 8 percent of the total dietary requirement of an adult woman.
Dietary value – 1 medium apple will give 1 mcg of chromium, 4 percent of the daily dietary intake.
A potassium powerhouse, banana is loaded with a plethora of minerals including magnesium and folate. Banana also helps lower blood pressure, boosts sex drive in women and a favourite food for weight watchers.
Dietary value – 1 medium banana contains 1 mcg of chromium, which is the 4 percent of the dietary need of an adult woman.
Grains rich in chromium
Oats are a wonderful choice for people with diabetes as it helps keep them full for longer. They are a natural source of protein, potassium, iron, magnesium and high in fiber as well. Try adding oatmeal to your morning routine.
Dietary value – Oatmeal can give 5.38 mcg of chromium. This is 15 percent of the total required daily dietary intake.
Whole wheat bread
Loaded with healthy dietary fiber, whole wheat bread is a good source of getting chromium. Apart from this, if you want strong bones and healthy heart, the manganese content in the whole wheat bread can be very beneficial.
Dietary value – 2 slices of whole wheat bread provides 2 mcg of chromium, 8 percent of the daily dietary value
It is always a safe choice to get required nutrients from the healthy balanced diet rather focusing on getting a specific nutrient. If you are planning to take supplements, don’t forget to talk to a doctor or dietician well in advance as it may induce side effects.
1. Chromium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet(2018, March 02). NIH read more
2. Anderson RA et al.(1997, November).Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes read more
3. Press RI et al. (1990, January).The effect of chromium picolinate on serum cholesterol and apolipoprotein fractions in human subjects read more