Sulphur may be one of the most important minerals we should be getting from our diet. Sulphur is not a famous mineral like calcium, iron or magnesium yet sulphur is truly a quiet achiever.
Sulphur is involved in hundreds of essential chemical reactions in the body that create optimal health, including: Supporting energy production (through mitochondria action); Removing toxins from cells; and Creating proteins and connective tissue necessary for joint, skin, and blood vessel health.
Two sulphur-rich vegetable groups are: 1) Alliums, which include garlic, onions, shallots, leeks; and 2) Cruciferous, or Brassica vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy.
A 2015 meta analysis found that intake of allium vegetables, including onions, were associated with reduced gastric cancer risk. A 2006 study of southern European populations showed an inverse association between the frequency of use of allium vegetables and the risk of several common cancers.
According to an article in Nutrition and Cancer (2001) titled ‘Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention’, “Results clearly point toward a positive correlation between cancer prevention of many target organs and consumption of cruciferous vegetables or their active constituents.”
Garlic is a Thai favourite and contains high concentrations of sulfur compounds and allicin, which acts as an antimicrobial and can help support your immune system fighting off both bacterial and viral infections. Garlic has many studies also promoting blood vessel health which could support brain function and can help prevent or reduce cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.
Bok Choy. This high sulphur and nutritional powerhouse commonly found in Thailand is part of the cruciferous family. Bok Choy is ranked 5th by Dr Joel Fuhrman on his ANDY list, which is a measure of nutrients density over calories. Since many overweight people are nutrient deficient today – foods like Bok Choy that are high in fibre, vitamins (like Vitamin C), and minerals (like calcium) can be very valuable to feeling full and satisfied and reducing risks of overeating.
Try to not overcook sulphur foods as it reduces their health properties – raw is often better or being lightly steamed or a quick stir-fry. Perhaps make a salad dressing with raw garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.
A word of warning for those with thyroid issues. While cruciferous vegetables are incredibly healthy vegetables, some studies have suggested potential issues of consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables for people with thyroid issues (and having low iodine). So caution may be warranted and talk to your health-care provider. But it is another reason to ensure you are consuming adequate iodine-rich foods alongside cruciferous vegetables like seaweed, and seafood.
The Thai kitchen is full of high sulphur foods, like Thai Green Curry, with garlic, onions, and adding mushrooms along with stir-fried mixed vegetables with broccoli and bok choy. See how you go with three cups or more per day for better health.