Ounce of Prevention, Dr. Vendryes

WHEN WE talk about health, not much is usually said about the element sulphur. (Sulfur is the American spelling). Although it does not attract the attention nutritional stars like calcium, magnesium, iron or zinc get it is an important mineral for the optimal health of the human body. Despite its low profile, sulphur is the third most abundant mineral element in the body, ranking just after calcium and phosphorus.

Benefits of sulphur
Cardiovascular benefits: German research has shown the importance of dietary sulphur for cardiovascular health. Sulphur compounds found in some foods may increase cardiovascular health by acting as a natural blood thinner and by lowering blood cholesterol. Sulphur is needed for the manufacture of taurine, an amino acid critical for a healthy heart.

Joint and skin benefits | MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a sulphur compound found naturally in fresh vegetables. Although not proven scientifically, many people who use MSM claim that it relieves symptoms of joint pain and benefits their skin and nails.
Hair and nails consist of a tough protein called keratin that has sulphur bonds that provides its strength and resilience. On the other hand, connective tissues and cartilage contain proteins with flexible sulphur bonds, giving those structures flexibility.
With age, the flexible tissues in your body lose their elasticity, leading to sagging and wrinkled skin, stiff muscles and painful joints.
Anti-cancer and antioxidant benefits
The sulphur compounds found in the high-sulphur foods fight cancer by increasing the body's immune response, and may inhibit the growth of some tumours.
Sulphur containing amino acids are excellent antioxidants and these antioxidants have cancer prevention properties. Sulphur is involved in the synthesis of glutathione, an extremely important antioxidant produced inside your cells. These compounds also increase the liver's ability to flush out toxins from the body.
Sulphur also plays a key role in the function of the mitochondria, the energy factories inside your cells. It is even a part of the vital hormone insulin.

Sulphur-rich foods

The brassicas or cruciferous vegetables: These are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Allium vegetables: The Allium group of foods includes onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives. This group is an excellent source of sulphur.
Other vegetables: Other sulphur rich vegetables include kale, callaloo, spinach, asparagus, okra, lettuce, sweet corn, and eggplant.
Beans: Beans are high in sulphur, (Edamame - steamed soybeans have the highest sulphur content of all) as are most types of peas.

The avocado is the fruit with the highest sulphur content, followed by kiwi, bananas, pineapple, strawberries, melons, grapefruit, grapes, oranges and peaches.

In most diets, sulphur comes mainly from the meat protein. Turkey, chicken, goat, pork, most fish and beef are very high in sulphur.

Eggs are a great source of sulphur. Chicken eggs, particularly the yolks, are rich in sulphur. One quail's egg offers almost as much sulphur as a serving of meat.

Other foods: Other high-sulphur foods include dairy products, chocolate, coffee, tea, grains, sesame seeds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios and other nuts.
Sulphur is present in most meats, but I recommend healthier sources of sulphur. Sulphur-rich vegetables contain extremely potent organosulfur compounds that offer special health benefits. Animal sources contain sulphur-rich amino acids, which we do need, but they don't contain the organosulfur compounds in plant foods.