Chromium supports insulin function, which helps regulate your blood sugar, and might also play a role in your metabolism. But 90 percent of Americans don't get enough chromium in their diet, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. While many foods offer small amounts of chromium, a few healthy options offer considerable amounts to help you get the recommended 20 to 35 micrograms per day.
Best Food Sources of Chromium
Chromium is found in a wide variety of foods, including fruits, veggies, meats, seafood, herbs and spices, but most of these contain only 2 micrograms of chromium or less, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Additionally, the amount of chromium may vary due to how the food is grown or manufactured. But there are some foods that make it easy for you to meet your daily chromium needs.
Shellfish make it easy to get your daily chromium needs. Mussels are one of the best sources, with 110 micrograms per 3-ounce serving. Oysters can also help you get more than what you need, with 49 micrograms in 3 ounces.
If you don't like shellfish, a small pear, which has 40 micrograms, might work. With 28 micrograms in six nuts, Brazil nuts are also an excellent source of chromium and can help get you closer to your daily needs. And a medium-sized tomato has 25 micrograms.
Foods High in Chromium
Although not as high in chromium as the best sources, a number of other foods can help you get more of the trace mineral in your diet. If you eat broccoli regularly, you may not have any problem meeting your daily chromium needs, since the vegetable provides 11 micrograms in a 1/2-cup serving. Grape juice is also rich in the trace mineral with 8 micrograms per cup. Pork chops are high in chromium, with 8.5 micrograms in a 3-ounce serving. A whole-wheat English muffin has 4 micrograms, 1 cup of mashed potatoes has 3 micrograms and 1 teaspoon of dried garlic has 3 micrograms.
Other Food Sources of Chromium
Many different foods contain 2 micrograms of chromium per serving, including dried basil, beef cubes, turkey breast, whole-wheat bread and orange juice. Foods with 1 microgram per serving include apples, bananas and green beans. Cheese, brewer's yeast, molasses, dates, mushrooms, barley, bran cereal, oatmeal, prunes, organ meats, egg yolks, herring, hazelnuts and asparagus also contain small amounts of the trace mineral and, when included as part of your diet, may help bump up your intake to decrease the risk of deficiency.
How to Add Chromium-Rich Foods to Your Diet
Filling your diet with a variety of chromium-rich foods may help you get closer to meeting your daily needs. Adding foods rich in vitamin C, such as red peppers, orange juice or strawberries, improves your body's ability to absorb more chromium.
To get more chromium at breakfast, you might have a bowl of oatmeal sweetened with molasses and strawberries or a whole-wheat English muffin topped with sliced tomatoes and cheese. Wash it all down with a glass of grape juice. A turkey and tomato sandwich on whole-wheat bread with a glass of orange juice makes a good chromium-filled lunch. Finish the day with some steamed mussels, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli. Snack on pears, bananas, apples and nuts to really pack in the chromium.
Chromium Levels in the Body and Deficiency
Eating a diet filled with simple sugars -- soda, juice, candy and other sweets -- causes your body to eliminate chromium in urine. Exercise, stress, illness and pregnancy may also cause the body to excrete chromium, leading to lower levels of the trace mineral. While chromium deficiencies are rare, according to ODS, low levels may lead to insulin resistance -- where insulin isn't able to transport sugar from the blood into the body's cells -- and cause an increase in blood sugar levels.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Chromium
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Chromium
- European Food Information Council: Chromium in the Diet
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Food Nutrient Database: Brazil Nuts
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Food Nutrient Database: Pears
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Food Nutrient Database: Tomatoes