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17 Foods That Increase Glutathione Naturally

Jun 12, 2023
17 Foods That Increase Glutathione Naturally

Glutathione is known as the master oxidant. It is used in every cell in the body to detoxify and protect cells from metabolic damage, drug byproducts, and environmental toxins. Glutathione levels fall with age and poor health. Chronic exposure to chemical toxins, pollution, and heavy alcohol consumption can all contribute to lower glutathione levels. Glutathione depletion has been linked to a number of chronic diseases.1

Glutathione is synthesized in the body naturally from three amino acids: glycine, L-cysteine, and L-glutamine. Choosing a diet rich in glutathione precursors can help protect your cells from damage and support your immune system.2,3 There are many benefits to boosting your glutathione levels. Consume the foods listed below to increase glutathione naturally.

1. Asparagus

Asparagus is high in glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and cysteine, making it an excellent source of sulfur.3

2. Avocado

Avocados are rusk in glutathione and have some cysteine.

3. Broccoli

According to one study, glutathione increases the activity of the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, a key enzyme in glutathione production, suggesting that it would increase glutathione naturally.4

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in sulfur. Consuming cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.5

4. Cabbage

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in sulfur. Consuming cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.5

5. Cucumber

Cucumber is high in glutathione and has some N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and cysteine, making it an excellent source of sulfur.3

foods that boost immunity

6. Garlic

Garlic is an Allium vegetable that is high in sulfur. Consuming Allium vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.5

7. Green beans

Green beans are high in glutathione and cysteine, making them an excellent source of sulfur.3

8. Green tea

Green tea and green tea extract significantly increase antioxidant capacity in the body when compared to water consumption alone. Green tea is also associated with decreased risk of certain cancers, such as adult-onset leukemia.3

9. Kale

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in sulfur. Consuming cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.5

10. Leeks

Leeks are an Allium vegetable that is high in sulfur. Consuming Allium vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.5

meats increase glutathione naturally

11. Meats

Many types of meat are rich in sulfur, with a mean of 142.1 mg, accounting for about 16% of most people’s sulfur intake.5 Sulfur is found in methionine and cysteine, two amino acids that are precursors for glutathione.

Meats are also high in selenium, an essential mineral and glutathione cofactor. In one study, participants who consumed 200 mcg of selenium daily for three months saw an increase in glutathione naturally.6

12. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great source of glutathione and ergothioneine, which is a sulfur-based amino acid. Some varieties have higher glutathione levels than others. Mushrooms are also a great source of riboflavin, B vitamins, selenium, copper, potassium, dietary fiber, chitin, and β-glucans.7

13. Onions

Onions are an Allium vegetable that is high in sulfur. Consuming Allium vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.5

14. Papaya

Papaya is high in glutathione and cysteine, making it an excellent source of sulfur.3

antioxidants detoxify your cells

15. Pomegranate juice

In a study of nine weightlifters who consumed pomegranate juice, researchers found that they had decreased oxidative stress and increased antioxidant enzyme activity compared with the group consuming a placebo drink.8

Consuming grape juice, kale juice, or other juices high in polyphenols is expected to produce similar results.3

high fiber foods

16. Spinach

Spinach is high in glutathione and cysteine, making it an excellent source of sulfur.3

17. Whey

Whey is higher in cysteine than in other proteins. In a small study, participants who supplemented their diet with whey protein for two weeks had higher glutathione levels than those who didn’t.9  

Conclusion

There is some debate on the effectiveness of oral glutathione supplementation, as digestive enzymes in the stomach may break it down before it is absorbed. Consuming foods rich in L-cysteine, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC),  glycine, and L-glutamate gives your body the amino acids it needs to increase glutathione naturally. Glutathione injections are prescription only. Talk to an Invigor Medical specialist to determine whether glutathione supplements are right for you, or buy glutathione injections for optimal absorption.

17 Foods That Increase Glutathione Naturally

Frequently Asked Questions

What food is highest in glutathione?

Foods highest in glutathione include fruits like avocado, watermelon, and oranges, as well as vegetables like spinach, asparagus, and broccoli. Glutathione-rich foods are crucial for supporting the body’s antioxidant defense system and promoting overall health.

What vitamin produces glutathione?

Vitamin C is a key nutrient that supports the production of glutathione in the body. It acts as a cofactor for the enzymes involved in the synthesis of glutathione, helping to regenerate glutathione from its oxidized form and maintain optimal levels in cells.

What is the best precursor to glutathione?

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is considered one of the best precursors to glutathione, as it provides the necessary building blocks for the body to produce glutathione. By increasing cysteine availability, NAC supplementation can enhance glutathione synthesis and support antioxidant capacity.

What foods have glutathione for liver?

Foods rich in sulfur-containing compounds like garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help support liver health and boost glutathione levels. These foods contain compounds like sulforaphane and allicin, which stimulate glutathione production and promote detoxification processes in the liver. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help support liver function and overall glutathione status.

Disclaimer
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

17 Foods That Increase Glutathione Naturally

Leann Poston, M.D.

Dr. Leann Poston is a licensed physician in the state of Ohio who holds an M.B.A. and an M. Ed. She is a full-time medical communications writer and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical. Dr. Poston lives in the Midwest with her family. She enjoys traveling and hiking. She is an avid technology aficionado and loves trying new things.

References

  • Pizzorno J. Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb;13(1):8-12. PMID: 26770075; PMCID: PMC4684116.
  • Wu G, Fang Y-Z, Yang S, Lupton JR, Turner ND. Glutathione Metabolism and Its Implications for Health. The Journal of Nutrition. 2004;134(3):489-492. doi:10.1093/jn/134.3.489
  • Minich DM, Brown BI. A Review of Dietary (Phyto)Nutrients for Glutathione Support. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2073. doi:10.3390/nu11092073
  • Doleman JF, Grisar K, Van Liedekerke L, Saha S, Roe M, Tapp HS, Mithen RF. The contribution of alliaceous and cruciferous vegetables to dietary sulphur intake. Food Chem. 2017 Nov 1;234:38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.098. Epub 2017 Apr 18. PMID: 28551250; PMCID: PMC5460521.
  • Sedighi O, Zargari M, Varshi G. Effect of selenium supplementation on glutathione peroxidase enzyme activity in patients with chronic kidney disease: a randomized clinical trial. Nephrourol Mon. 2014 May 4;6(3):e17945. doi: 10.5812/numonthly.17945. PMID: 25032143; PMCID: PMC4090673.
  • Kalaras MD, Richie JP, Calcagnotto A, Beelman RB. Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione. Food Chemistry. 2017/10/15/ 2017;233:429-433. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.109
  • Ammar A., Turki M., Hammouda O., Chtourou H., Trabelsi K., Bouaziz M., Abdelkarim O., Hoekelmann A., Ayadi F., Souissi N., et al. Effects of pomegranate juice supplementation on oxidative stress biomarkers following weightlifting exercise. Nutrients. 2017;9:819. doi: 10.3390/nu9080819.
  • Zavorsky G.S., Kubow S., Grey V., Riverin V., Lands L.C. An open-label dose-response study of lymphocyte glutathione levels in healthy men and women receiving pressurized whey protein isolate supplements. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2007;58:429–436. doi: 10.1080/09637480701253581. 

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