Here's The Promise
What is it: A mineral needed daily, but only in small amounts.
Why you need it: It protects your cells from free radical damage, allowing your thyroid to produce hormones, and it protects the joints from inflammation.
It's an important player in the body's natural antioxidant system, protecting cells from the damage wreaked by unstable oxygen molecules.
Very low levels of this mineral are known to predispose children to heart disease, and more recent evidence suggests that getting enough could prevent cancer.
In one of the largest studies to date, 1,300 men and women with a history of skin cancer were tracked for 10 years.
The people taking a 200 mcg supplement daily had a 46% lower risk of lung cancer, 63% lower risk of prostate cancer, and 58% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those taking a placebo.
An even larger study is now under way to confirm those positive findings.
Now for The Controversy
It seems that results (as yet unpublished), from an ongoing study in Linxian, China, have sparked some concerns about selenium.
People younger than 55 who took a supplement containing selenium and other antioxidants had a lower risk of esophageal cancer and those older than 55 had a slightly higher risk.
Here again, one possibility is that the nutrients may protect healthy cells, but in the not-so-healthy encourage the growth of cancerous ones.
So How Much
55 mcg. (60 mcg. for women who are pregnant, 70 mcg. for lactating women).
How Do We Get It?
Again, natures super foods.
Soil in North America, generally is rich in this mineral, so most of us already get the recommended 55 mcg. a day.
To get a little more selenium, help yourself to whole grains, nuts, and fish.
You should go easy on the very best source of selenium, however.
Brazil nuts contain so much selenium in fact (nearly 10 times the RDA in a single ounce), that the NIH cautions people, as do we, to eat them only on occasion.
Wild cooked oysters (3 oz., 61 calories) 87 5 daily value
Cooked snapper (4 oz., 145 calories) 80 5 d.v.
Cannned white tuna, in water (3 oz., 109 calories) 80 % d.v.
Cooked halibut (4 oz., 158 calories) 76 % d.v.
Cooked shrimp (4 oz., 112 calories) 65 % d.v.
Roasted turkey breast (4 oz., 215 calories) 47 % d.v.
Broiled beef tenderloin (4 oz., 240 calories) 40 % d.v.
Grilled portobello mushrooms (1 c., 42 calories) 31 % d.v.
Hard-boiled egg (68 calories) 19 % d.v.
Raw tofu (4 oz., 86 calories) 14 % d.v.
So, what to have for dinner this evening?
Might we suggest;
Barley Mushroom Soup
The crimini mushrooms and tawny port gives this mushroom barley soup extra flavor.
It's a great way to enjoy the health benefits of barley.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 55 min
1/2 c. pearl barley
1 med. onion, chopped fine
3 med. cloves garlic, chopped
1 med. carrot, peeled and diced in 1/4 inch cubes
2-1/2 c. crimini mushrooms, cut in half and sliced
1/2 c. Tawny port
1 Tbs. + 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Rinse and soak barley in 1 cup of warm water while preparing the rest of ingredients.
Heat 1 Tbs. broth in a medium soup pot.
Sauté onion, garlic, and carrots in broth for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Add mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes.
Add drained barley and Tawny Port and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add rest of broth, bring to a boil on high heat.
Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until barley and carrots are tender.
Add herbs, salt and pepper at end of cooking and serve.
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