(Natural News) Sulfur might smell bad, but it helps the blood vessels, hair, heart, and skin to function properly. Eating sulfur-rich foods also helps protect against dangerous health conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The third most abundant mineral in the body, sulfur is present throughout the body. Most people have 140 grams of the element. While dietary supplements can replenish sulfur concentrations, people usually get it from food.
Fruits are a poor source of sulfur – only bananas, coconuts, tomatoes, and watermelons have sufficient amounts of the nutrient. In contrast, many vegetables contain either sulfur or sulfuric compounds. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale get their scent and taste from the staggering amounts of the mineral in their fiber-rich leaves and parts. Bulb vegetables such as garlic, leeks, and onions are not far behind. They also help prevent blood clots and control cholesterol. Legumes provide lots of sulfur as well. Vegetarians can get their daily dose from beans, lentils, and soybeans, while tofu compares favorably with meat in terms of sulfur and protein content.
Animal food products have high amounts of the nutrient. Many dairy products and most meats contain sulfur. Egg yolks deliver heaps of the mineral, but they also have large amounts of cholesterol. (Related: 6 Reasons to eat more onions.)
Sulfur makes the body look good, so you feel better
The prevalence of sulfur in the human body and so many food sources cements its importance. Some of its most critical functions follow.
First, sulfur performs a crucial role in the production of insulin. A shortage of the metabolic hormone hampers the body’s ability to balance blood sugar. Sulfur and insulin deficiencies render a person more vulnerable to diabetes.
Next, the nutrient may act as a natural pain reliever for the joints and muscles. Vegetables often have considerable amounts of the sulfuric compound methylsulfonylmethane. The chemical may also be seen in many pharmaceutical drugs used for alleviating pain. The methylsulfonylmethane in the pain relievers is likely to be a synthesized form of the natural sulfur-based compound.
Third, sulfur makes hair and skin healthier and more beautiful. It has links to collagen and keratin, the proteins that comprise hair, nails, and skin. Collagen ensures the suppleness and elasticity of the skin and connective tissue in the joints. One of its ingredients is sulfur. The mineral turns up as an ingredient in many hair and skincare products. Face powders, shampoos, skin creams, and similar products often use sulfur to prevent or remove acne, blemishes, dandruff, and the like.
Fourth, sulfur supports the proper function of the heart and blood vessels. The mineral displays antioxidant activity. It also acts as a natural blood thinner. A 2006 review by Nagoya University researchers proposed that sulfur reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called “bad cholesterol.”
Fifth, sulfur may help manage copper levels in the body. Most people have slightly more copper than they need. Few studies have examined the interaction between sulfur and copper. But multiple investigations of livestock have shown that the former prevented the accumulation of the latter in animals.
Last but not least, sulfur might help prevent the onset of some cancers. The National Cancer Institute indicated that sulfuric compounds called glucosinates disrupted the growth of cancerous cells in the colon, lungs, ovaries, the prostate gland, and the stomach. Glucosinates also neutralize cancer-causing substances, suppress pathogenic bacteria, and fight inflammation. They are abundant in cruciferous vegetables.
Individuals with sulfur intolerance and patients with leaky gut syndrome and bacteria-clogged small intestines should stick to low-sulfur diets. But most people will significantly benefit from eating nutritious foods that pack lots of sulfur.