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Foods high in selenium that reduce diabetes risks

Lana Bandoim's picture

If you want to reduce your risk of diabetes, then you may want to add the following foods that are high in selenium.


Multiple studies have shown that selenium may reduce the risk of diabetes. However, there are ongoing debates about the benefits of supplementation with this dietary mineral and the amount that is necessary. You can safely increase selenium in your diet by focusing on foods that are naturally high in this mineral.

What is selenium?

Selenium is a mineral that is found in different types of food and is considered an essential nutrient and an antioxidant. It is part of multiple selenoproteins, which are found in the human body, and are responsible for a variety of functions ranging from metabolism to DNA synthesis.

Recent studies have shown that selenium is linked to a lower risk of diabetes, but medical professionals are still debating about the use of selenium supplements. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian points out that most supplements contain one type of selenium mineral, but the health benefits may be linked to multiple types, so a diet rich in selenium is best. Research shows that study participants who had higher levels of selenium in their bodies had a 24 percent lower risk of developing diabetes.

Seafood and meat high in selenium

Experts recommend that adults have a minimum of 55 mcg of selenium a day. It is best to avoid going over 400 mcg a day because of the risk of toxicity. Seafood and meat products tend to have the highest levels of selenium.

The following are meat and seafood products high in selenium:

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• Tuna
• Shrimp
• Sardines
• Salmon
• Cod
• Mollusks
• Turkey
• Chicken
• Lamb
• Veal
• Pork
• Beef

Vegetables, nuts and grains high in selenium

If you are vegetarian, vegan or simply do not want to eat meat, you have other options to get more selenium in your diet. From fortified cereals to Brazil nuts, you can get this important mineral from different sources.

The following are vegetables, nuts and grains high in selenium:

• Brazil nuts
• Cashews
• Rice
• Enriched cereals
• Enriched spaghetti or macaroni
• Bread
• Baked beans
• Oatmeal
• Spinach
• Lentils
• Mushrooms
• Asparagus
• Tofu

Cooking and other concerns

Unlike other vitamins and minerals, selenium levels are usually not affected by cooking, so you do not have to eat these foods raw. However, grains lose some of their selenium during refinement and processing, so you want to look for enriched versions that have added it back.

Although you will see selenium supplements, medical professionals recommend trying to focus on foods high in selenium first. You will find a variety of products that have a large amount of this mineral, so it should not be difficult to add it to your diet. Considering research points to a lower risk of diabetes with higher levels of selenium, you cannot ignore it.