Saturday, July 13, 2024

Local Nigerian Foods Bursting with Essential Selenium

Last Updated on November 20, 2023


Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and well-being.

It is known for its antioxidant properties and is crucial for proper thyroid function and a strong immune system.

Nigerian cuisine offers a wide range of local foods that are rich in selenium, making it easy to incorporate this essential nutrient into your diet.

Importance of Selenium in the Human Body

Selenium is a trace mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting the body against harmful free radicals.

It also plays a crucial role in DNA synthesis, thyroid hormone metabolism, and immune function.

Adequate selenium intake is essential for maintaining optimal health and preventing certain diseases.

Local Nigerian Foods Bursting with Essential Selenium

Nigerian cuisine is renowned for its rich and diverse flavors.

Additionally, it offers an abundance of local foods that are naturally high in selenium.

Some of these include tiger nuts, brown rice, mushrooms, seafood, and beans.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help ensure you meet your daily selenium requirements.

Tiger nuts, a popular snack in Nigeria, are not only delicious but also a great source of selenium.

They can be eaten on their own or used in various dishes and desserts.

Brown rice, another staple in Nigerian cuisine, contains selenium and other essential nutrients.

It can be paired with vegetables, meat, or fish for a wholesome meal.

Mushrooms are also widely consumed in Nigeria and are rich in selenium.

They can be added to soups, stews, and stir-fries, enhancing both the taste and nutritional value of the dish.

Seafood, such as fish and shrimp, is a fantastic source of selenium, along with omega-3 fatty acids.

Beans, a staple in Nigerian cooking, are not only packed with protein and fiber but also contain selenium.

In essence, selenium is an essential nutrient that the body needs to function properly.

Nigerian cuisine offers a variety of local foods that are bursting with selenium, making it easy to incorporate this vital mineral into your diet.

By including these selenium-rich foods in your meals, you can ensure that you are getting the necessary amount of this essential nutrient for optimal health.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in the body’s overall health and well-being.

Selenium is a chemical element that is found in soil, water, and some foods.

It is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Selenium is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland.

Benefits for Overall Health

  1. Boosts the Immune System: Selenium helps strengthen the immune system, making it more efficient in fighting off infections and diseases.

  2. Protects Against Oxidative Stress: As an antioxidant, selenium helps reduce oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic inflammation and various health problems.

  3. Supports Thyroid Function: Selenium is essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, regulating metabolism, and maintaining healthy thyroid function.

  4. Reduces the Risk of Chronic Diseases: Adequate selenium intake is associated with a lower risk of certain chronic conditions, including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.

  5. Enhances Fertility: Selenium is beneficial for both male and female fertility. It helps improve sperm quality in men and supports healthy ovarian function in women.

  6. Promotes DNA Repair: Selenium aids in the repair of damaged DNA, preventing mutations that can lead to the development of cancer.

  7. Supports Cognitive Function: Adequate selenium levels are crucial for proper brain function, memory, and cognitive abilities.

  8. Improves Mood and Mental Health: Selenium helps regulate mood and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.

Incorporating local Nigerian foods rich in selenium

Considering the benefits of selenium for overall health, incorporating local Nigerian foods rich in selenium is highly recommended. Here are some examples:

  1. Beans: A staple in Nigerian cuisine, beans are a great source of selenium, fiber, and protein.

  2. Brown Rice: This nutrient-dense whole grain is not only rich in selenium but also provides essential vitamins and minerals.

  3. Fish: Varieties like mackerel, salmon, and sardines are excellent sources of selenium as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

  4. Eggs: Apart from being a good source of protein, eggs contain selenium that supports various bodily functions.

  5. Meat: Including lean meats like poultry, beef, and lamb in your diet provides selenium, along with high-quality protein.

  6. Nuts and Seeds: Consuming nuts like Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds can significantly increase your selenium intake.

  7. Mushrooms: Different types of mushrooms, such as white button, shiitake, and cremini, are not only rich in selenium but also provide several health benefits.

  8. Whole Grains: Millet, sorghum, and oats are local grains in Nigeria that contain selenium and contribute to a well-rounded diet.

By incorporating these local Nigerian foods into your daily meals, you can ensure an adequate intake of selenium, promoting overall health, and well-being.

Remember to enjoy a varied diet and consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Read: Harnessing Potassium Power: Foods to Control BP

Common Nigerian Foods High in Selenium

Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining our overall health.

It acts as a powerful antioxidant, boosts our immune system, and helps in regulating thyroid hormone metabolism.

Including selenium-rich foods in our diet can significantly improve our well-being.

In this section, we will explore some common Nigerian foods that are bursting with selenium:

Brown Rice

Brown rice is not only a staple food in Nigeria but also a great source of selenium.

It is a whole grain that retains all its nutrients, including selenium.

Consuming brown rice regularly can help meet your selenium requirements while providing other essential minerals and fiber.


Beans, such as black-eyed beans and cowpeas, are a popular choice in Nigerian cuisine.

They are not only a rich source of protein and fiber but also contain selenium.

Including beans in your diet can benefit your overall health and provide you with the necessary nutrients.


Nigeria’s coastal region offers a wide range of seafood options rich in selenium.

Fish like mackerel, sardines, and tuna are not only delicious but also packed with this essential mineral.

Consuming seafood regularly can improve your selenium levels and promote heart health.


Eggs are a versatile and affordable source of essential nutrients, including selenium.

They can be prepared in various ways and make for a nutritious meal.

Including eggs in your diet can help fulfill your selenium requirements while providing high-quality protein.


Chicken is a widely consumed meat in Nigeria and a good source of selenium.

Whether you prefer grilled, roasted, or stewed chicken, you can benefit from its selenium content.

However, it’s important to choose quality sources of poultry to ensure maximum nutritional benefits.


Oats are not only a great source of fiber but also contain selenium.

They are a popular breakfast option and can be enjoyed in various forms, such as oatmeal or overnight oats.

Including oats in your diet can boost your selenium intake and promote digestive health.


Nuts like Brazil nuts, walnuts, and cashews are not only delicious but also rich in selenium.

Snacking on these nuts can provide you with a good amount of selenium and other essential nutrients.

However, moderation is key, as nuts are calorie-dense.


Garlic is a common ingredient in Nigerian cuisine, known for its distinctive flavor and health benefits.

It contains selenium, among other beneficial compounds.

Adding garlic to your meals not only enhances the taste but also increases your selenium intake.


Mushrooms are a versatile ingredient that adds flavor and nutrition to various dishes.

They are low in calories and fat but high in selenium.

Incorporating different types of mushrooms into your diet can help meet your selenium requirements.

Incorporating these selenium-rich Nigerian foods into your diet can have numerous health benefits.

However, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet and consult a healthcare professional for personalized dietary advice.

Enjoy the delicious flavors of Nigerian cuisine while boosting your selenium intake for improved well-being.

Read: The Importance of Minerals in Nigerian Child Nutrition

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are not just delicious, but they also provide a good amount of essential selenium, which is important for our health.

In this section, we will explore the selenium content in popular Nigerian legumes like black-eyed beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas, as well as discuss the various ways these legumes can be incorporated into Nigerian dishes.

Selenium Content in Nigerian Legumes

Black-eyed beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas are all great sources of selenium.

Black-eyed beans, also known as akara or moi moi, contain about 30 micrograms of selenium per 100 grams.

Cowpeas, commonly used in making beans and plantain porridge, have around 35 micrograms of selenium per 100 grams.

Pigeon peas, popular in dishes like jollof rice, provide around 45 micrograms of selenium per 100 grams.

Incorporating Legumes into Nigerian Dishes

Legumes are versatile and can be incorporated into various Nigerian dishes to increase their selenium content.

Here are some popular ways to use black-eyed beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas:

  1. Black-eyed Beans: Black-eyed beans can be used in making akara (bean cakes), moi moi (bean pudding), and even added to soups like gbegiri or ewedu.

  2. Cowpeas: Aside from being used in beans and plantain porridge, cowpeas can also be cooked as a standalone dish or added to stews for extra flavor and nutrition.

  3. Pigeon Peas: Pigeon peas can be used in creating delicious jollof rice, or they can be cooked into a thick stew known as ewa oyibo.

By including these legumes in your meals, you not only add a distinct flavor but also boost your selenium intake.

In addition to being rich in selenium, legumes are also high in fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients.

This makes them an excellent choice for a balanced Nigerian diet.

Furthermore, legumes are affordable and readily available in most local markets throughout Nigeria.

They are a staple in many Nigerian households due to their nutritional and economic benefits.

When cooking legumes, it is important to properly clean and soak them beforehand to reduce cooking time and improve digestibility.

Soaking also helps reduce the anti-nutrient content in legumes, making them even healthier.

In fact, Nigerian legumes like black-eyed beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas are not only delicious but also bursting with essential selenium.

By incorporating these legumes into various Nigerian dishes, you can enhance their nutritional value and enjoy the numerous health benefits they provide.

Remember to soak and properly cook your legumes to make them easier to digest.

So go ahead and explore the flavors and benefits of these local Nigerian legumes!

Read: Boost Your Health with Nigeria’s Mineral-Dense Foods

Local Nigerian Foods Bursting with Essential Selenium


Nigeria is not only rich in culture and diversity but also in its traditional cuisine.

When it comes to nutrition, one important mineral that is often overlooked is selenium.

Fortunately, many local Nigerian foods are bursting with this essential nutrient, providing numerous health benefits.

In this section, we will explore the selenium content in popular Nigerian seafood and the traditional dishes that feature these delicious options.

Selenium content in popular Nigerian seafood

Seafood is a staple in Nigerian cuisine and a great source of selenium.

Not only is it packed with this essential mineral, but it also offers a host of other nutrients.

  1. Fish: Nigerian waters are blessed with an abundance of fish, such as mackerel, tilapia, and catfish.

    These varieties are not only delicious but also high in selenium, providing an excellent boost to your daily intake.

  2. Shrimp: Shrimps are widely loved in Nigeria, and they are a delightful source of selenium.

    Whether grilled, fried, or added to stews, shrimps add a rich flavor and a healthy dose of this essential mineral to any meal.

  3. Crayfish: Crayfish is a popular ingredient in Nigerian cuisine, especially in soups and stews.

    This tiny crustacean is not only packed with flavor but also high in selenium, making it a fantastic addition to any dish.

Traditional Nigerian dishes that feature these seafood options

Nigerian cuisine boasts a wide range of traditional dishes that incorporate seafood, allowing you to enjoy the selenium benefits while savoring the local flavors.

  1. Jollof Rice with Fish: Jollof rice is a beloved Nigerian dish known for its rich, tomato-based flavor.

    Adding fish to this delicacy not only increases its nutritional value but also enhances the taste, creating a satisfying meal bursting with selenium.

  2. Efo Riro with Shrimp: Efo Riro is a popular Yoruba soup made with an assortment of vegetables and protein.

    Adding shrimp to the mix not only elevates the taste but also boosts the selenium content, making it a wholesome and nutritious choice.

  3. Egusi Soup with Crayfish: Egusi soup is a Nigerian favorite made with ground melon seeds.

    Adding crayfish to this soup not only adds depth to the flavor but also provides an excellent source of selenium, promoting overall well-being.

  4. Pepper Soup with Fish: Nigerian pepper soup is famous for its spicy and flavorful broth.

    By adding fish to this aromatic soup, you not only enhance its taste but also increase your selenium intake, supporting a healthy immune system.

In short, Nigerian cuisine offers a range of delightful dishes that are not only rich in flavor but also packed with essential selenium.

Seafood, including fish, shrimp, and crayfish, are excellent sources of this important mineral.

By incorporating these ingredients into traditional Nigerian dishes, such as jollof rice, efo riro, egusi soup, and pepper soup, you can enjoy the selenium benefits while indulging in the local culinary delights.

So, why not explore the flavors of Nigeria and nourish your body with these selenium-rich foods today?

Read: Discovering Nigeria’s Mineral-Rich Local Delicacies

Nuts and Seeds

One of the essential sources of selenium in Nigerian cuisine comes from a variety of nuts and seeds.

These ingredients not only add crunch and flavor to the dishes but also provide valuable nutrients.

Selenium-Rich Nuts and Seeds

  1. Peanuts: Peanuts, also known as groundnuts, are widely consumed in Nigeria. They are not only a delicious snack but also a rich source of selenium.

  2. Cashews: Cashews are another popular nut in Nigerian cooking. These creamy and buttery nuts contain selenium, making them a nutritious addition to meals.

  3. Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds are commonly used in Nigerian dishes, such as soups and stews. These tiny seeds are packed with selenium, adding both flavor and nutritional value.

Uses of Nuts and Seeds in Nigerian Cooking

  1. Snacks: Nuts like peanuts and cashews are often enjoyed as snacks in Nigeria. Roasted and salted peanuts are a favorite street food, while cashews can be eaten as is or added to trail mixes.

  2. Condiments: Groundnut paste, made from ground peanuts, is a versatile condiment used in various Nigerian recipes. It adds richness and flavor to dishes like soups and sauces.

  3. Culinary Enhancements: Sesame seeds are frequently used as a topping or garnish for dishes, adding a crunchy texture and nutty taste.

    They are also used to make tahini, a paste used in hummus and salad dressings.

  4. Baking: Nuts and seeds, especially peanuts and cashews, can be ground into flour and used in baking. Their natural oils and flavors provide a unique twist to bread, cakes, and cookies.

  5. Traditional Dishes: Nigerian cuisine features various traditional dishes where nuts and seeds play a central role.

    One example is the popular peanut soup, or “groundnut soup,” which incorporates ground peanuts as a base.

  6. Nut Oils: Some nuts, like peanuts and cashews, can be pressed to extract their oils. These oils are used in cooking, adding a rich and slightly nutty flavor to dishes.

  7. Snacks and Sides: Candied peanuts, a sweet and crunchy treat, are a popular snack in Nigeria. Additionally, sesame seeds are often toasted and sprinkled over salads or used in side dishes.

It’s clear that nuts and seeds are not only tasty additions to Nigerian cuisine but also provide an excellent source of selenium.

Incorporating these ingredients into your meals can boost your selenium intake while adding depth and flavor to your dishes.

Grains and Cereals

Grains and cereals play a significant role in Nigerian cuisine, providing essential nutrients like selenium.

These staple foods are a crucial part of the Nigerian diet, forming the base of many traditional dishes.

Here is a closer look at the selenium content in Nigerian grains and cereals like rice, maize, and millet, as well as the popular dishes that heavily rely on them:

Selenium content in Nigerian grains and cereals


Rice is one of the most consumed grains in Nigeria and is rich in selenium.

It is a versatile ingredient used in various dishes across the country.

From Jollof rice to fried rice, Nigerians have mastered the art of cooking delicious and flavorful rice-based meals.


Maize, or corn, is another staple grain in Nigeria.

It contains selenium and is consumed in different forms, such as boiled, roasted, or ground into flour.

Nigerian dishes like cornmeal porridge (ogi/pap), corn soup, and roasted corn are popular choices.


Millet is a gluten-free grain that is widely grown and consumed in Nigeria.

It is a great source of selenium and is used to prepare dishes like tuwo masara (millet fufu), which is a thick porridge served with various Nigerian soups.

Millet is also used in the production of local alcoholic beverages like fura da nono.

Staple Dishes

In Nigeria, several staple dishes heavily rely on grains and cereals.

One example is Jollof rice, a flavorful rice dish cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and various spices.

It is a favorite among Nigerians and often served at parties and special occasions.

Staple dishes in Nigeria that heavily rely on these grains

Another popular dish is tuwo shinkafa, where rice is cooked and mashed into a smooth consistency.

It is typically served with different soups, such as miyan kuka or egusi soup.

Tuwo masara, made from millet flour, is another staple dish served with Nigerian soups like okra or ewedu.

Additionally, maize-based dishes like cornmeal porridge (ogi/pap) are commonly eaten for breakfast.

It is a thick, smooth porridge that can be paired with akara (bean cakes) or moin moin (savory bean pudding).

Health Benefits

Including grains and cereals in the diet provides numerous health benefits.

Apart from being a good source of selenium, these foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

They aid digestion, help maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

In a nutshell, Nigerian grains and cereals like rice, maize, and millet are bursting with essential selenium.

They form the foundation of many staple dishes in Nigeria, contributing to the country’s rich culinary heritage.

Incorporating these nutritious grains into your diet can provide a wide range of health benefits and add diversity to your meals.

So, why not explore the flavors of Nigerian cuisine and try some of these delicious dishes today?


Selenium plays a vital role in maintaining good health.

It is an essential nutrient that helps with various bodily functions, including metabolism and immune system support.

Nigerian cuisine is rich in selenium-rich foods, such as fish, meat, whole grains, and nuts.

These local foods provide a convenient and accessible way to boost selenium intake.

By incorporating these foods into daily meals, individuals can ensure they are getting adequate levels of selenium for optimal health.

So, let’s embrace the abundance of selenium-rich Nigerian foods and prioritize incorporating them into our diets for a healthier lifestyle.

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