You hear so much in the media about eating antioxidants but not so much about the importance of getting plenty of sulfur. In The Wahls Protocol, Dr Wahls recommends eating 3 cups of sulfur rich vegetables each day for vibrant health.
What is so great about sulfur?
First of all sulfur is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. It is responsible for hundreds of physiological processes.
Sulfur is important for these processes in your body:
Sulfur-rich foods nourish the mitochondria. Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cells. They generate the energy that our cells need to do their jobs well.
Sulfur synthesizes glutathione, which is a potent intercellular antioxidant. Glutathione neutralizes free radicals and helps the liver process toxins. It also plays a role in DNA synthesis. Sulfur-rich vegetables therefore help your body to be more efficient in eliminating toxins.
Sulfur is important for producing collagen, which make up all your connective tissues. To keep your joints fluid and pain free you need sulfur. Many arthritis sufferers take a supplement called (MSM) (methylsofonylmethane) to help with joint pain, but I prefer to get my sulfur from food even before I have any joint pain.
Sulfur helps give you strong, beautiful skin, hair and nails. We all want that, right?
Sulfur rich vegetables help prevent the narrowing of blood vessels, preventing atherosclerosis. They keep your blood vessels free from any blockages which is especially important for draining toxins out of the brain. Sulfur rich vegetables help keep the blood flowing freely in our system bringing nutrients to every cell.
Which foods contain sulfur?
Sulfur is found in beef, chicken, fish and diary. Eggs are high in sulfur as you can sometimes tell from their smell.
Even if you eat the foods mentioned above it is still important to get sulfur from vegetables. There are two reasons; the first is the vegetables are highly alkaline. Animal proteins are acidic. You want to eat lots of vegetables to keep your pH in balance particularly if you eat animal products. I recommend 70% of your plate be full of vegetables.
Second, and most importantly, sulfur-rich vegetables have potent organosulfur compounds that have benefits not available from the animal sources. The animal foods contain plenty of the sulfur-rich amino acids, but they don’t contain the organosulfur compounds.
Sulfur rich vegetables fall into 3 categories:
These are often referred to as cruciferous or brassica vegetables. They include vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes, and turnips. You can read about how they help reduce belly fat in my blog post.
The cabbage family of vegetables contain many organic sulfur compounds known as glucosinolates which the research has shown to support detoxification, reduce oxidative stress and protect brains cells. These vegetables also contain potent antioxidants which help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables are good when raw and cooked are combined. Some of the compounds in these vegetables are released when raw and others need to be heated to be bioavailable. Myrosinase, an enzyme that is released when the cell walls are broken (by chewing, chopping, blending or juicing) triggers the bodies own antioxidant system. The best ones to eat raw are kale, spinach and cabbage. Cooking kills the myrosinase but some of their other nutrients are more bioavailable when cooked. The nutrients in broccoli and cauliflower more available cooked. So have a raw kale salad along with your stir fried broccoli to get the maximum benefits.
HEALTH NOTE: If you have any thyroid issues it is best to always cook your cruciferous vegetables. The cruciferous vegetables have a goitrogens which can interfere with normal thyroid functioning. Don’t worry, if you cook them for a few minutes you reduce their goiterogenic effect. Since I have a thyroid condition, I like to steam my kale for 2 minutes before I put it into my smoothie.
These vegetables include both red and yellow onions, garlic, leeks, scallions and shallots. They have been used in many cultures because of their medicinal properties. Alliums reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer and dementia. They contain antibacterial properties and greater fluidity of the blood.
The onion family of vegetables help fight against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. They also enhance detoxification by reducing toxins.
To get the most health benefits from garlic and onions, let them sit for a minimum of 5 minutes, optimally 10 minutes, after cutting and before eating or cooking. Waiting 5-10 minutes allows the health-promoting alliicin to form. If you do not let it sit, alliicin is never formed, so it is worth the wait. By allowing your garlic and onions to sit for 5-10 minutes, you can cook it on low or medium heat without destroying the alliicin.
Mushrooms have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. They are rich in sulfur, B vitamins, minerals and compounds not found in other foods. Components of the cell walls of mushrooms contain natural killer cells that support the body’s natural defenses by balancing the immune system. Mushrooms protect against cancer and auto-immune diseases.
Mushrooms are best eaten cooked. Mushrooms have very tough cell walls which are hard to digest if you don’t cook them. Cooking them releases the nutrients they contain. Mushrooms also contain mild toxins which are destroyed when cooked.
HEALTH NOTE: Individuals with medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis may experience an increase in symptoms after eating foods high in sulfur because of an inability to breakdown the mineral correctly, according to Northwest Naturopathic Urology.If you have trouble digesting sulfur vegetables It is best to eat them cooked. Start adding them in gradually allowing your body to gently process them.
List of Sulfur-Rich Vegetables
- bean sprouts
- bok choy
- brussels sprouts
- collard greens
- green beans
- radishes and radish greens
- sauerkraut (raw)
- turnips and turnip greens
There are so many delicious sulphur-rich foods and recipes, you will love adding more of them into your diet.
Please leave a comment below to let me know which one you are planning to add in.