You Probably Need More of This Essential Nutrient — Here's How to Get It
There's an underappreciated nutrient that deserves some major love (and a little room on your plate). Choline is needed for proper functioning of your cells, metabolism, nervous system, liver, and, for expectant moms, healthy fetal brain development and prevention of neural tube defects. The problem is, most Americans aren't getting nearly enough.
Never heard of choline? That could be because it is fairly new to the world of essential nutrients, first recognized by the Institute of Medicine in 1998, when adequate intake (AI) levels were established as follows:
- Men: 550 milligrams (mg) per day
- Women: 425 mg per day
- Pregnant women: 450 mg per day
- Lactating women: 550 mg/day
- Children: varies based on age
Now that you know what it is and why you need it, let's review the top 10 choline-rich foods (according to SELF Nutrition Database) that you should be putting in your cart and on your plate ASAP.
If you love eggs, you're in luck because they are the number one food source of choline. In fact, a recent study showed that if pregnant women add just one egg per day to their diet, the number of women meeting their daily need would jump from 10 percent to more than 50 percent.
One large egg (with the yolk) packs almost 150 mg of choline. Just a few of these nutrient-packed gems will get you almost all the way to your daily goal. If you usually stick to effortless cereal for breakfast, try a few of these quick and easy egg recipes.
Add broccoli to the list of choline-rich veggies. A cup of broccoli (c'mon, a cup isn't that much) provides over 60 mg of choline. Here are a few of our favorite recipes if you need a little inspiration.
Depending on the cut (ground, steak, etc.), beef can have over 100 mg of choline in a typical three-ounce serving. Who says burgers aren't healthy?
When it comes to seafood, salmon is about as healthy as it gets. Salmon is at the top of the list for omega-3 fats, protein, B vitamins, and, yes, choline. A three-ounce salmon filet provides over 150 mg of choline.
Pair it up with asparagus in this easy-to-prepare sheet pan supper, and you'll be well on your way to hitting your daily recommended total.
Dark Leafy Greens
We all know we should be eating more greens, and here is just one more reason. Collards, Swiss chard, and spinach can pack as much as 60 mg of choline per cup. If you get tired of salad, throw a little spinach in your smoothie.
If you are a fan of oysters, you'll be happy to hear that just a few oysters contain almost 20 mg of choline. Still not sure how to pry an oyster open? Check out these tips for choosing and shucking them.
Rounding out our list of choline-packed foods is mushrooms. One cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms gives you over 100 mg of choline. This egg dish with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese looks like a good place to start.