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World's Healthiest Foods rich in



 Brown Rice21677%






For serving size for specific foods see the Nutrient Rating Chart.

Basic Description

When you think of dietary minerals, you probably think first of calcium or iron. If you spend a lot of time thinking about nutrition, you may also think about zinc or magnesium. But there are a whole group of trace minerals, which are not generally as well known, that we derive from our diets in very small amounts that are just as critical to healthy lifestyles.

One of these is manganese. In the 1930s, researchers discovered that our bodies require small amounts of dietary manganese each day. Since then, it has been determined that each adult has about 15-20 mg of manganese stored in his or her body. Needless to say, this isn't very much, and in fact some people occasionally eat this much dietary manganese in a single day.

Largely plant-based diets—like those we promote at the World's Healthiest Foods—tend to be rich sources of manganese. Of the World's Healthiest Foods, we currently rate 21 as excellent sources of manganese. We also have 38 very good sources and 26 good sources. Added together, these foods represent 85% of all WHFoods! This large variety gives you many options for obtaining the manganese you need.

Role in Health Support

Bone Production

We know from animal studies that very low intakes of manganese are associated with poor bone formation. This phenomenon is thought to be due to altered formation of the protein matrix that keeps minerals like calcium in place.

Whether low or marginal manganese intake is a common contributor to bone loss is not known currently. Given that U.S. diets tend to be well above total manganese needs, it appears unlikely that increasing manganese intakes is necessary or helpful in prevention or treatment of osteoporosis.

Skin integrity

Manganese is a required co-factor for an enzyme called prolidase, which is in turn necessary to make collagen as a structural component of skin. This role of manganese in collagen production makes this mineral important for everyday skin health. In addition to its collagen production role, manganese also functions as an antioxidant in skins cells and other cell types. It helps protect skin against oxygen-related damage and also against damage from ultraviolet (UV) light. In at least one human study, participants on manganese-deficient diets over a period of weeks developed skin rashes that the researchers associated with too little dietary manganese. After the participants resumed consumption of a manganese-rich diet, these rashes disappeared. There can be an extremely wide variety of reasons for development of skin rashes, and so this study did not mean to suggest that whenever a person has a skin rash, there may very likely be some problem with manganese intake. But this study did point out that manganese deficiency can sometimes play a role in skin problems, including rashes.

Blood Sugar Control

Manganese is needed to help multiple enzymes in a process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the scientific term for conversion of substances like amino acids or organic acids into sugar. Our cells routinely engage in this process, and some of the enzymes involved (like PEPCK, or phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase) require manganese to function properly.

Scientists aren't sure about the relationship between diseases involving poor blood sugar control and dietary intake of manganese. In animal studies, manganese-depleted diets can lead to high blood sugars similar to those seen in diabetics. Whether this is true in humans has not been determined.

Either way, we suspect that manganese deficiency is probably not a common contributor to human diabetes. People with diabetes do not consistently have lower manganese intake than people without diabetes. Also, supplementation with large doses of manganese—doses at the top end of what would be seen with plant-based diets—do not appear to improve blood sugar control in diabetes. However, even though manganese deficiency may not directly increase risk of diseases related to blood sugar control (like diabetes), it is still likely to play a very helpful role in everyday blood sugar control.

Protection Against Free Radical Damage

As noted above, manganese is a co-factor for an enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), which is a potent antioxidant associated with protection against free radical damage. Diets low in manganese have been linked to conditions marked by increased free radical damage to cells and tissue,,including skin problems and asthma.

Summary of Food Sources

As noted above, the World's Healthiest Foods contain a large number of excellent and very good sources of manganese. These represent a variety of food groups, including whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.

Unlike most minerals, we see foods on the list that contain close to or the entire Daily Value (DV) for manganese in a single serving. One quarter cup of dried oats, for example, provides 96% of the DV for manganese.

It's worth pointing out that among our 85 WHFoods that rank as excellent, very good, or good sources of manganese, none are animal foods. That's because animal foods are typically low in manganese, and provide 5% or less of the DV.

Nutrient Rating Chart

Introduction to Nutrient Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the World's Healthiest Foods that are either an excellent, very good, or good source of manganese. Next to each food name, you'll find the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition, the calories contained in the serving, the amount of manganese contained in one serving size of the food, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.
World's Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of
Foods Rating
Cloves2 tsp11.52.53110172.0excellent
Oats0.25 cup151.71.92839.9excellent
Brown Rice1 cup216.41.76776.4excellent
Spinach1 cup41.41.687331.8excellent
Pineapple1 cup82.51.536714.5excellent
Collard Greens1 cup62.70.974212.1excellent
Cinnamon2 tsp12.80.914055.5excellent
Raspberries1 cup64.00.823610.0excellent
Black Pepper2 tsp14.60.743239.8excellent
Beet Greens1 cup38.90.743214.9excellent
Swiss Chard1 cup35.00.582513.0excellent
Strawberries1 cup46.10.56249.5excellent
Kale1 cup36.40.542311.6excellent
Turnip Greens1 cup28.80.492113.3excellent
Mustard Greens1 cup36.40.38178.2excellent
Summer Squash1 cup36.00.38178.3excellent
Turmeric2 tsp15.60.341517.1excellent
Sea Vegetables1 TBS10.80.311322.4excellent
Garlic6 cloves26.80.30138.8excellent
Basil0.50 cup4.90.241038.5excellent
Bok Choy1 cup20.40.24109.2excellent
Garbanzo Beans1 cup269.01.69734.9very good
Pumpkin Seeds0.25 cup180.31.47646.4very good
Tempeh4 oz222.31.46635.1very good
Rye0.33 cup188.51.44636.0very good
Soybeans1 cup297.61.42623.7very good
Tofu4 oz164.41.34586.4very good
Barley0.33 cup217.11.19524.3very good
Quinoa0.75 cup222.01.17514.1very good
Wheat1 cup151.11.11485.8very good
Walnuts0.25 cup196.21.02444.1very good
Sweet Potato1 cup180.00.99434.3very good
Lima Beans1 cup216.20.97423.5very good
Sesame Seeds0.25 cup206.30.89393.4very good
Green Peas1 cup115.70.72314.9very good
Buckwheat1 cup154.60.68303.4very good
Beets1 cup74.80.55245.8very good
Blueberries1 cup84.40.50224.6very good
Winter Squash1 cup75.80.38173.9very good
Green Beans1 cup43.80.36166.4very good
Cranberries1 cup46.00.36166.1very good
Flaxseeds2 TBS74.80.35153.7very good
Brussels Sprouts1 cup56.20.35154.9very good
Cabbage1 cup43.50.33145.9very good
Broccoli1 cup54.60.30134.3very good
Asparagus1 cup39.60.28125.5very good
Leeks1 cup32.20.26116.3very good
Tomatoes1 cup32.40.2195.1very good
Fennel1 cup27.00.1774.9very good
Cauliflower1 cup28.50.1674.4very good
Romaine Lettuce2 cups16.00.1577.3very good
Miso1 TBS34.20.1573.4very good
Cumin2 tsp15.80.1467.0very good
Lentils1 cup229.70.98433.3good
Navy Beans1 cup254.80.96422.9good
Dried Peas1 cup231.30.78342.6good
Pinto Beans1 cup244.50.77332.5good
Kidney Beans1 cup224.80.76332.6good
Black Beans1 cup227.00.76332.6good
Peanuts0.25 cup206.90.71312.7good
Sunflower Seeds0.25 cup204.40.68302.6good
Cashews0.25 cup221.20.66292.3good
Almonds0.25 cup132.20.53233.1good
Millet1 cup207.10.47201.8good
Potatoes1 cup160.90.38171.8good
Onions1 cup92.40.32142.7good
Banana1 depends105.00.32142.4good
Carrots1 cup50.00.1772.7good
Mushrooms, Shiitake0.50 cup40.60.1572.9good
Eggplant1 cup34.60.1152.5good
Mushrooms, Crimini1 cup15.80.1044.9good
Celery1 cup16.20.1044.8good
Bell Peppers1 cup28.50.1042.7good
Oregano2 tsp5.30.10414.8good
Mustard Seeds2 tsp20.30.1043.9good
Chili Peppers2 tsp15.20.0944.6good
Soy Sauce1 TBS10.80.0946.5good
Peppermint2 TBS5.30.09413.2good
Thyme2 TBS4.80.08312.9good
Cucumber1 cup15.60.0834.0good
Dill0.50 cup1.90.06324.6good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellent DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
very good DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
good DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%

Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing

Manganese content of foods tends to be stable throughout their shelf life, provided that they are stored properly for the recommended period of time. If you would like to learn more about how to best keep foods, each of our World's Healthiest Food profiles contains a section on How to Select and Store for best quality.

In legumes, cooking does not appear to lead to much or any loss of manganese. With vegetables, you may expect a little more loss of manganese with cooking. Still, you'll be able to minimize this loss by reducing cooking time and contact with cooking water. For instance, the manganese loss after cooking spinach with a brief boil time was less than 10%. Our food profiles always provide you with precise recommendations for cooking times and cooking methods that will help you preserve nutrients, including manganese.

Risk of Dietary Deficiency

Typical non-vegetarian diets contain about 2 to 7 mg of manganese daily. Vegetarians tend to have more manganese and can approach 10 or more mg daily. As reflected in the Food Source section,both dietary patterns should typically be able to meet or surpass the 2 mg per day Daily Value (DV) recommendation.

lt would be almost impossible to eat a diet that was based on the World's Healthiest Foods and not get plenty of manganese, especially if that diet contained plenty of our World's Healthiest plant foods. Nearly all of our listed foods contain at least some of this mineral, and 85 of our plant foods rate as good, very good, or excellent sources of manganese.

Other Circumstances that Might Contribute to Deficiency

Since we are not aware of any studies showing widespread manganese deficiency among any population groups within the U.S., and because dietary deficiency of manganese appears to be the foremost cause of manganese deficiency in all countries that have been studied by researchers, we have not been able to identify circumstances outside of your dietary intake that might put you a greater risk for manganese deficiency. Of course, like all nutrient deficiencies, manganese deficiency can be caused by unusual medical problems. For example, we've seen studies showing a connection between bowel surgeries and manganese deficiency. However, when people have unusual medical problems, they often develop multiple nutrient deficiencies, and these kinds of problems require the involvement of the individual's healthcare team.

Relationship with Other Nutrients

Animal studies suggest that iron deficiency can increase the absorption of dietary manganese. The converse—that high levels of iron can interfere with absorption of manganese—also appears to be true. It's not clear, however, exactly what these animal studies mean for humans, except to suggest that we typically want to avoid extremely high or extremely low intake of either mineral. We have seen some human studies on manganese in children who are iron deficient, and in some of these studies, these children have shown elevated levels of manganese in their blood that may be of possible concern. These studies are further evidence of a special relationship between manganese and iron. In a practical sense, the bottom line here for us is simple: when talking to your healthcare provider about possible concerns with either mineral, it makes sense to ask questions about the other mineral as well. (Please see our profile for iron for more information on this nutrient.)

Calcium and magnesium also can compete with manganese for absorption. Although this has not been reported as a cause of manganese deficiency in humans, it is possible that high calcium and/or magnesium diets may slightly impair manganese nutrition. However, from a practical standpoint, many diets that are high in calcium and/or magnesium—especially if these minerals are primarily obtained from plant foods—are simultaneously high in manganese, making the risk of manganese deficiency relatively low.

Risk of Dietary Toxicity

In 2001, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) established a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of 11 mg for total daily manganese intake for adults 19 and older. This level was based on the uppermost amount of manganese found in the diet of healthy people.. While we support the establishment of this UL recommendation from the NAS, we would also point out that it was not based on evidence about unwanted health consequences if this dietary level was exceeded. In other words, the NAS did not have evidence about health problems that might occur if dietary intake of manganese routinely exceeded this 11 mg level. The NAS only had evidence that no such problems had been observed in U.S. adults whose average daily manganese intake was as high as 11 mg. So the NAS adopted this 11 mg UL level to err on the conservative side in its public health recommendation.

Dietary manganese levels can be surprisingly high in some populations. In fact, unlike most required dietary minerals, it is not especially difficult to exceed the UL of 11 mg with very reasonable dietary intake. For example, if you eat one serving from each of our Top 10 manganese-rich foods in one day, you will exceed the manganese UL. As described above, we are not aware of any reason to deliberately avoid manganese-rich foods, provided that you consume an overall balanced diet with optimal intake of other minerals and do not have health problems that might compromise your body's handling of these minerals,

Disease Checklist

  • Osteoporosis
  • Tardive dyskinesia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Dermatitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Asthma

Public Health Recommendations

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for manganese. These DRIs were Adequate Intake levels, or AIs. Here are those recommendations as established by the NAS:

  • 0-6 months: 0.003 mg
  • 7-12 months: 0.6 mg
  • 1-3 years: 1.2 mg
  • 4-8 years: 1.5 mg
  • 9-13 years, female: 1.6 mg
  • 9-13 years, male: 1.9 mg
  • 14-18 years, female: 1.6 mg
  • 14-18 years, male: 2.2 mg
  • 19+ years, female: 1.8 mg
  • 19+ years, male: 2.3 mg
  • Pregnant women: 2.0 mg
  • Lactating women: 2.6 mg

These 2001 DRI guidelines also established a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of 11 mg for total daily manganese intake. For more information about this UL recommendation, please see our Risk of Dietary Toxicity section.

The Daily Value (DV) for manganese is 2 mg per 2000 calories. This is the recommendation that is used in the food charts below, and it is also the standard that we adopt as our WHFoods standard.


  • Abdalian R, Saqui O, Fernandes G, et al. Effects of manganese from a commercial multi-trace element supplement in a population sample of Canadian patients on long-term parenteral nutrition. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 2013;37:538-43
  • Cabrera-Vique C, Bouzas PR. Chromium and manganese levels in convenience and fast foods: In vitro study of the dialyzable fraction. Food Chem 2009;117:757-63.
  • Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001;394-419.
  • Friedman BJ, Freeland-Graves JH, Bales CW, et al. Manganese balance and clinical observations in young men fed a manganese-deficient diet. J Nutr 1987;117:133-43.
  • Gunter TE, Gerstner B, Gunter KK, et al. Manganese transport via the transferrin mechanism. Neuotoxicology 2013;34:118-27.
  • Lee BK, Kim Y. Relationship between blood manganese and blood pressure in the Korean general population according to KNHANES 2008. Env Res 2011;111:797-803.
  • Lisiewska Z, Gebczynski P, Bernas E, et al. Retention of mineral constituents in frozen leafy vegetables prepared for consumption. J Food Comp Anal 2009;22:218-23.
  • Patel BD, Welch AA, Wareham NJ. Dietary antioxidants and asthma in adults. Thorax 2006;61:388-93.
  • Price CT, Langford JR, Liporace FA. Essential nutrients for bone health and a review of their availability int the average North American diet. Open Orthop J 2012;6:143-9.
  • Smith EA, Newland P, Bestwick KG, et al. Increased whole blood manganese concentrations observed in children with iron deficiency anaemia. J Trace Elem Med Biol 2013;27:65-9.
  • Treiber N, Maity P, Singh K, et al. The role of manganese superoxide dismutase in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol 2012;4:232-5.
  • Wang N, Hatcher DW, Toews R, et al. Influence of cooking and dehulling on nutritional composition of several varieties of lentils. LWT Food Sci Technol 2009;42:842-8.
  • Zheng W, Fu SX, Dydak U, et al. Biomarkers of manganese intoxication. Neurotoxicology 2011;32:1-8.

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