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Benefits of High-Sulfur Foods on Keto

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  Published on February 24th, 2023
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified March 1st, 2023
Keto foods high in sulfur

You don’t just eat food for pleasure; food also nourishes your cells and keeps you alive. Healthy foods can help you feel better and help your cells function optimally, while unhealthy junk foods harm your overall health and wellness. 

Just because you’re following a ketogenic diet doesn’t mean you’re necessarily consuming a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Making sure to include foods in your diet that are rich in necessary minerals like potassium, calcium, and sulfur will help you achieve a more balanced and nutritious diet. Let’s look at the specific benefits of sulfur-rich foods in your ketogenic diet. 

What Is Sulfur?

Sulfur is a nonmetallic chemical element and an anti-inflammatory nutrient you must obtain from your diet. Calcium, phosphorous, and sulfur are the three most abundant minerals in the human body.

Which Foods Are High in Sulfur?

You can source sulfur from plant and animal foods, such as:

Some supplements and medications, such as analgesics and antibiotics, contain varying levels of this mineral. [1]

Some foods provide sulfur-containing organosulfur compounds. Sulfur from drinking water is called inorganic sulfate. Well water and other drinking sources may have sulfur compounds. 

Food manufacturers often use sulfites as food preservatives to extend shelf life. Sulfites are derived from sulfur and are frequently added to packaged foods, such as pickles, jams, and dried fruit. Sulfites also develop naturally in fermented foods and drinks, for instance, wine, beer, and cider. A small percentage of people are sensitive to sulfite preservatives and might experience problems with some condiments, wine with added sulfites, beer, some canned and frozen foods, and pickled foods. [2] 

 Foods highest in sulfur are: 

Eggs are high in sulfur

Nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and grains come second to the foods in the list above.

Studies reveal people typically obtain the most dietary sulfur from foods providing two amino acids: cysteine and methionine (organosulfur compounds). These compounds are present in protein-rich foods, for instance, meat, seafood, eggs, milk, and legumes.

Alliaceous and cruciferous vegetables also provide a high percentage of the sulfur in people’s diets. This group includes broccoli, onion, garlic, cauliflower, and other veggies. These flavorful sulfur-rich foods are typically keto-friendly and versatile. Sulfurous veggies tend to be fibrous, steam well, and let off a unique, pungent odor that some people don’t particularly like. The smell is distinctive but goes away.

Some therapeutic diets, like Dr. Terry Wahl’s protocol, require consuming three cups of sulfur-containing foods daily, specifically from cruciferous veggies. One cohort of researchers and health advocates believe consuming different types of sulfur compounds from a variety of animal and plant foods is optimal.

What Are the Benefits of Sulfur?

Sulfur is needed for numerous functions in the human body, including: 

  • Maintaining nitrogen balance
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Building and repairing DNA
  • Assisting antioxidant synthesis
  • Protecting against oxidative stress and cellular damage
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Inhibiting some harmful bacteria [3]

Sulfur plays a role in the synthesis of glutathione—one of the most powerful antioxidants your body produces, and you obtain from your diet. [4] [5] People who are sick or aging typically have less glutathione compared to healthy people, children, and young people.

Sulfur improves the strength and resiliency of hair and maintains the integrity of connective tissues, skin, and ligaments. It’s also required for synthesizing taurine, which is essential for the proper functioning of your muscles, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system. [6] [7]


Inflammation is a key player in a plethora of chronic diseases, so it’s beneficial for keto dieters to eat a range of anti-inflammatory sulfur-rich foods. Consuming sulfurous foods could help decrease muscle and joint pain. A sulfur-containing compound found in plant-and animal-based foods called methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is often added to dietary supplements intended to reduce joint pain. Research shows taking MSM supplements for at least 12 weeks could reduce pain and improve joint function in adults. [8] [9]

Sulfur can improve joint pain

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

A diet including sulfur dioxide nutrient-rich foods like cruciferous veggies could also help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Glucosinolates are advantageous compounds that appear to be protective against heart disease, certain neurodegenerative diseases, and type 2 diabetes. [10]

Antimicrobial Effects

Sulfur has antimicrobial effects and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. For example, the glucosinolates in cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli have antimicrobial properties, particularly in the digestive system. They’ve been shown to reduce the proliferation of microbes and bacteria that could damage the colon and intestines. [11]


Studies conclude high-sulfur foods, namely allium and cruciferous veggies, contain antioxidants and compounds with anti-cancer effects and can stop the growth of certain cancer cells, including those that cause prostate, breast, lung, and gastrointestinal cancer. [12] 

Keto Dishes Featuring Sulfur-Rich Foods

Looking to add more sulfur to your diet? Enjoy these keto dishes featuring sulfur-rich foods:

Steph Green is a content writer specializing in and passionate about healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. Steph has worked with marketing agencies, written medical books for doctors like ‘Untangling the Web of Dysfunction,’ and her poetry book ‘Words that Might Mean Something.’ In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.



Feng, M., Tang, B., Liang, S. H., & Jiang, X. (2016). Sulfur containing scaffolds in drugs: Synthesis and application in medicinal chemistry. Curr Top Med Chem, DOI: 10.2174/1568026615666150915111741


Institute of Medicine of the Natural Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfite. National Academies Press Washington. 7 Sulfate | Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate |The National Academies Press


Mitchell, S. C. (2021). Nutrition and sulfur. Adv Food Nutr Res, DOI: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2021.02.014


Strott, C. A. (2002). Sulfonation and molecular action. Endocr Rev, DOI: 10.1210/er.2001-0040


Ingenbleek, Y., & Kimura, H. (2013). Nutritional essentiality of sulfur in health and disease. Nutr Rev, DOI: 10.1111/nure.1205


Nimni, M. E., Han, B., & Cordoba, F. (2007). Are we getting enough sulfur in our diet? Nutr Metab (Lond), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-4-24


Doleman, J. F., Grisar, K., Liedekerke, L. V., Saha, S., Roe, M., Tapp, H. S., & Mithen, R. F. (2017). The contribution of alliaceous and cruciferous vegetables to dietary sulphur intake. Food Chem, DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.098


Lee, D. Y., Li, H., Lim, H. J., Lee, H. J., Jeon, R., & Ryu, J-H. (2012). Anti-inflammatory activity of sulfur-containing compounds from garlic. J Med Food, DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2012.2275


Brien, S., Prescott, P., & Lewith, G. (2011). Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, DOI: 10.1093/ecam/nep045


Kamal, R. M., Razis, A. F. A., Sukri, N. S. M., Perimal, E. K., Ahmad..Riguad, S. (2022). Beneficial health effects of glucosinolates-derived isothiocyanates on cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Molecules, DOI: 10.3390/molecules27030624


Borlinghaus, J., Albrecht, F., Gruhlke, M. C. H., Nwachukwu, I. D., & Slusarenko, A. J. (2014). Allicin: Chemistry and biological properties. Molecules, DOI: 10.3390/molecules190812591


Powolny, A. A., & Singh, S. V. (2008). Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett, DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.05.027

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