Control Cravings and Blood Sugar Levels with 5 Chromium-Rich Recipes

Get the benefits of this trace mineral with recipes as deliciously diverse as Orange Bran Muffins, Tortellini and Broccoli Salad, and Open-Face Ham Sandwiches on Rye.

July 12, 2010

Salad Niçoise is full of chromium that can help keep food cravings under control.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Eating enough chromium-rich foods is easy—and essential. Picture this trace mineral as the shovel that gets the fuel into the furnace. Chromium works by hooking up with insulin to help carry glucose (blood sugar) across cell membranes and into cells, where it’s burned for energy. Sounds vital, and it is—but unfortunately, even balanced diets designed by dietitians can contain far less than the 120 micrograms of chromium daily recommended by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center. Due to the prevalence of processing, which depletes the chromium levels in foods, chromium deficiencies can be quite common in our modern diet.

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A lack of chromium is particularly problematic for people with blood sugar issues. People with very low chromium levels can develop "glucose intolerance," a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes. The good news? Blood sugar levels do drop in these people when they get the chromium they need. But chromium seems to help those with mild glucose intolerance and mildly elevated blood sugar more than those with long-standing or severe diabetes.

Chromium also helps raise levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind that helps shuttle bad LDL cholesterol out of the body. For those of us who are battling the bulge, there’s evidence that supplementation with the mineral may help build lean tissue and reduce fat in people who exercise. And there’s more good chromium news on the weight-control front: Food cravings, which can derail any good eating plan, are often generated by a lack of chromium. In a Cornell University study, chromium supplementation curbed appetite and cravings by 50 percent in people with depression.

To easily and safely increase your chromium intake, get it from foods rich in the mineral, such as whole grains, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, bran cereal, orange juice, romaine lettuce, raw onions, broccoli, potatoes, green beans, raw tomatoes, black pepper, grape juice, and ham. Since beer and wine can accumulate chromium during fermentation, they’re also good dietary sources of the mineral.

For fantastic recipes rich in chromium, check out this array of ideas from the Rodale Recipe Finder: They’re all easy, tasty ways to get more of this multitasking mineral.

#1: Orange Sunshine Pancakes. Get a double dose of chromium with the orange juice and wheat germ in these citrusy flapjacks. For another tasty chromium-rich start to your day, try these Orange Bran Muffins.

#2: Tortellini and Broccoli Salad. Salads are great ways to load up on chromium-rich veggies. Make a summery pasta salad, classic Salad Niçoise, or serve up a side salad like Broccoli-Carrot-Onion Slaw.

#3: Open-Face Ham Sandwiches on Rye Crispbread. Pair ham and tomatoes for nutritious sandwiches like this open-faced option and Hungry Man’s Hoagies. (Want more sandwich ideas? See our "Build a Better Sandwich" stories, Part 1 and Part 2.)

#4: Country-Style Potato and Green Bean Soup with Ham. Seasonal soups are another great way to get more chromium. Make this hot soup featuring green beans, a summer garden staple; alternatively, opt for a delicious chilled soup like Supper Gazpacho.

#5: Alcohol-Free Sangria. Cool off on a hot summer evening with this chromium-rich, grape juice–based sangria.

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