Chromium may be a trace mineral that you don’t need a whole lot of. But it’s still important to increase intake if you are pregnant or nursing or have a deficiency of the nutrient. But what role does this nutrient play? Your body needs chromium in small quantities to help with overall health, normal growth, and digestion. It also helps boost the effectiveness of insulin in the body, influencing the metabolism as well as storage of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It may even reduce aging-linked calcium loss.
Not getting adequate chromium might cause you to experience fatigue and anxiety. You may also have high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. You may also take longer to recover from injuries. And that’s why it is important you get enough chromium for normal body functions. So how do you go about doing that when information on chromium isn’t as readily available and doesn’t feature on most food labels? You’ll find a roundup of chromium-rich foods in the sections that follow, so read on and you’ll be able to tick off the best food choices for you!
Daily Value For Chromium Is 35 Mcg For Adults
While there are no recommended dietary allowance numbers for chromium yet, adequate intake (AI) levels (the norm when RDA is absent) have been set at:
- 35 mcg for adult men up to 50 years old
- 30 mcg for adult men over 50
- 25 mcg for adult women up to 50 years old
- 20 mcg for women over 50
- 30 mcg for pregnant women
- 45 mcg for breastfeeding women1
The new US Food and Drug Administration reference values which are under implementation have pegged daily value (DV) for chromium intake at 35 mcg a day for adults and children over 4, and 45 mcg a day for pregnant women and lactating mothers.2 For the purposes of the foods that follow, the DV will be calculated against this number of 35 mcg.
Half a cup of broccoli: 11 mcg chromium, 31.4% of the DV
Broccoli is a really good source of chromium and packs in 11 mcg per half cup. That’s about 31.4% DV in a small serving. Make it the mainstay of your meal and you could get twice that amount in a cup.3 It is a quick-cooking vegetable that takes almost no effort to prepare. Simply break off the florets and steam them before adding them to a salad. Or roast them off with some seasoning and oil in the oven. You might also enjoy a warming bowl of broccoli soup, with some cheese grated in for extra savoriness. Even Asian recipes like wok-tossed vegetables or meats take well to the addition of broccoli. Another way to use broccoli is to swap out cauliflower in some recipes with this greener cousin.
One-third a cup of barley: 8.16 mcg chromium, 23.3% of the DV
Barley contains 8.16 mcg of chromium in 1/3 of a cup. That translates to around 23.3% DV per serving.4 The whole grain can add some delicious bite to a salad. Or try making a filling soup with beans and barley, meat and barley, or mushrooms and barley. It also lends itself well to being turned into a risotto – simply pair it with your favorite flavors and swap out the arborio rice for barley. You’ll just need to play around with the amount of stock or liquid you use.
3. Grape Juice And Wine
One cup of grape juice: 8 mcg of chromium, 22.9% of the DV
The ancient Romans were on the right track with their intake of grapes and red wine. Each cup of grape juice contains 8 mcg of chromium, which offers 22.9% DV of the nutrient.5 Enjoy your grape juice plain or add it to a blend of juices. You could also freeze it in hot weather to make a granita or an ice slush drink.
If you want a more adult beverage, then reach for some wine. The chromium content of wine can vary greatly between brands, but as one study found, you should get a good amount of chromium from most wines. In one study, French wine had 22 mcg per liter of wine on average, while Spanish wine has 20 mcg per liter, Polish wine had 12 mcg per liter, and Italian wine had 8 mcg per liter.6 It is unlikely you’ll have that much though, so realistically, you’ll get about 5.7% DV to 15.7% DV per glass. Enjoy a glass of wine on its own or use it as a base for a sangria with some fruit added in for good measure. You could even try freezing it to make boozy granita!
A quarter cup of uncooked oats: 5.38 mcg of chromium, 15.4% of the DV
There’s 5.38 mcg of chromium per quarter cup serving of the uncooked cereal, which is around 15.4% DV.7 Oats are fairly familiar ground for most people, but if you haven’t tried making them before, start small by making a quick and easy porridge. Add your favorite fruit or berries and maybe some nuts and seeds for a healthy and delicious breakfast. You can also experiment with homemade granola bars or oat and raisin cookies. Add some oats to your breads when you bake. Or swap out regular or panko breadcrumbs with some oats for a twist on your crumb-fried chicken. You can even sneak some oats into your lamb or beef burgers or meatball recipes.
A cup of mashed potatoes: 3 mcg, 8.6% of the DV
Nothing hits the spot quite like a potato! If you enjoy your side of mash with your protein at mealtimes, you’ll do well with the chromium it contains too. A cup-sized serving of mashed potatoes contains 3 mcg of the nutrient, which is the equivalent of 8.6% DV.8 You can also fashion that mashed potato into croquettes or make it more exciting by stirring through some herbs, cheese, or even chives.
3 oz beef: 2 mcg, 5.7% of the DV
Beef is another food that has some chromium. A 3 ounce serving of beef cubes contains 2 mcg of chromium, which amounts to 5.7% DV.9 Simply add your beef to a stew or casserole or slow cook with an assortment of vegetables and herbs and spices for an easy midweek meal. You could brush a marinade and grill the cubes, experimenting with exotic spice rubs or sauces for new versions of your favorite meat!
7. Green Beans
A cup of cooked green beans: 2 mcg, 5.7% of the DV
A cup of cooked green beans has around 2 mcg of chromium – that’s 5.7% DV of the nutrient.10 Have yours simply blanched and tossed in a salad – try a Thai style salad with raw papaya, green beans, raw mango, and cherry tomatoes for a change. Or make a southern style green bean casserole with some cheese grated over. Or toss them in a pan with some garlic and butter or olive oil. You could also roast them in the oven with carrots and a Middle Eastern spice like Za’atar.
8. Orange Juice
A cup of orange juice or 2 oranges: 2 mcg, 5.7% of the DV
Enjoy your glass of OJ in the morning? A cup of orange juice has 2 mcg or 5.7% DV of chromium, so drink up!11 Orange juice is great as it is, but if you’d rather have your fruit whole then go right ahead – you’ll just need to eat a couple to get that same amount of orange (and nutrition) in. Try making delicious fresh orange juice popsicles in summer to cool off after some time in the sun. Orange juice is also a great way to refresh recipes that use lemon juice. For instance, a salad dressing with lemon juice will taste very familiar but put in orange juice and you have a whole new world of flavor! It also works well in marinades and sauces.
A cup of tomatoes: 1.2 mcg, 3.6% of the DV
Tomatoes can find their way effortlessly into most vegetarian as well as meat-based recipes. Toss them in to make a sauce, slice them fresh to liven up a salad, grill them and fill them with wild rice, nuts, vegetables, and cheese, or even a meaty sauce. Use them as a base for your pasta and pizza or other Italian cooking in a passata. There’s 1.26 mcg of chromium in a cup of tomatoes, so you’ll chalk up 3.6% of your DV.12
10. Romaine Lettuce
2 cups of romaine lettuce: 1.25 mcg, 3.6% of the DV
Romaine lettuce is another source of chromium with 1.25 mcg per 2 cups of the leaves. That gets you 3.6% DV of the nutrient.13 Add your lettuce leaves to a variety of salads or use them to make fresh healthy spring rolls, replacing the pastry wrapper with the leaf. Or grill the leaves to give them a smoky flavor for a whole new dimension to your time-tested recipes.
Other Chromium Sources In Your Food
The challenge with determining the level of chromium in foods is that the levels are so minute that accurate determination can present a challenge. That said, there are some other good sources of chromium which may not have made it to this list because of trouble determining their levels accurately. But these could still be considered if you’re trying to up your intake of the nutrient.14
- Brown rice
- Cow’s milk
- Foods made from whole grains like bread
- Spices like black pepper
Now that you have an idea of chromium levels in some foods, you can go about increasing their intake if you have a deficiency. Most women in the United States meet their adequate intake levels except when pregnant and lactating. Then their needs are higher and may not be met through the average diet. Men, however, seem to exceed intake at 39 to 54 mcg a day. So be sure that you need to increase your intake before you go on a chromium-rich food eating spree!15
|↑1, ↑3, ↑5, ↑8, ↑9, ↑10, ↑11, ↑15||Chromium. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑2||Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4, ↑7, ↑12, ↑13, ↑14||Chromium. The World’s Healthiest Foods, The George Mateljan Foundation.|
|↑6||Rêczajska, Wies³awa, Renata Jêdrzejczak, and Barbara Szteke. “Determination of chromium content of food and beverages of plant origin.” Polish journal of food and nutrition sciences 14, no. 55 (2005): 2.|