21 Foods High in Zinc and Their Health Benefits

There are so many common foods high in zinc we don’t know. This mineral helps strengthen our immune system, aids in cell division and growth, healing wounds, and the synthesis of proteins and DNA. Just like protein, the body does not store zinc, so we need to eat enough food high in zinc each day to meet the recommended dietary intake.

Zinc is one of the essential minerals that the body needs, but it has been talked about a lot after the spread of the Corona pandemic and its role in enhancing immunity and strengthening the body.

The Daily Recommended Amount of Zinc

The following table shows the recommended amounts of zinc, according to the age group. Source

Age group

The daily requirement of zinc (milligrams)

Infants from birth to 6 months 2
Infants 7 months to 12 months 3
Children from 1 to 3 years old 3
Children 4 to 8 years old 5
Children 9 to 13 years old 8
Males 14 to 18 years old 11
Females 14 to 18 years old 9
Males 19 years and over 11
Females 19 years and over 8
Pregnant 14 to 18 years old 12
Breastfeeding 14 to 18 years old 13
Pregnant 19 years and over 11
Breastfeeding 19 years and over 12

21 Foods High in Zinc- Where do we find zinc?

According to the recommendations, a pregnant woman needs 11 milligrams of zinc per day, a woman needs 8 milligrams, and a breastfeeding woman needs 12 milligrams of zinc.

Since our bodies do not store zinc, we need to secure our daily needs through food intake.

1. Foods high in zinc-Meat

Meat is a rich source of zinc, especially red meat, which contains a large amount of it. 100 grams of ground beef contains 4.8 milligrams of zinc, which is 44% of our daily needs.

But you should not consume large amounts of meat, especially processed meat, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

2. Legumes

Beans such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans contain good amounts of zinc. 100 grams of cooked lentils contain 12% of the daily requirement. But legumes contain phytates that prevent the body from absorbing zinc. However, legumes are a good option for vegetarians, especially because they are rich in protein and fiber that can be eaten through soups or stews.

3. Seeds

Seeds are an important nutritional addition and one of the great foods high in zinc.

3 tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds contain 31%, which is 43% of the recommended recommendations for both men and women. Pumpkin, sesame, and pumpkin seeds also contain a sufficient amount of this mineral.

In addition to being rich in zinc, these seeds have many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

4. Nuts

Eating nuts such as cashews, almonds, peanuts, and pine nuts will help you get zinc. Nuts also contain vitamins, healthy fats, and fiber that the body needs to boost its energy and health.

Nuts are among the recommended healthy snacks, and they have been linked to their ability to reduce heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. (3)

Cashews are a good choice to get zinc, as 28 grams contains 15% of your daily need.

5. Dark chocolate

Every 100 grams of chocolate contains 3.3 milligrams of zinc, which is equivalent to 30% of the recommended amount. But chocolate is rich in calories, 600 calories per 100 grams, which means that we have to pay attention to the amount consumed.

If you’re craving something sweet, eat some dark chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the better for your health. Dark chocolate contains a high amount of cocoa, which is a great source of zinc and flavonols.

Cocoa can help manage blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost immunity, but beware of chocolate melted with sugar and try not to eat moreover 28 grams of dark chocolate per day.

6. Oysters

It is the best source of foods high in zinc. One oyster provides 50 percent of the recommended amount of zinc.

Oysters are low in calories and high in vitamin B12 and selenium, two other nutrients that can boost your immune health against covid19 (2)

7. Dairy products

Foods high in zinc-dairy products

Products like cheese and milk are great sources of zinc and many other nutrients to boost our immune. (1)

Milk and cheese are notable sources of high amounts of bioavailable zinc, which means that most of the zinc in these foods can be absorbed by your body.

These foods also come with a number of other nutrients important for bone health, including protein. Calcium and Vitamin D.

8. Eggs

Eggs are one of the best foods high in zinc. Eggs contain a large amount of zinc and can help you achieve your daily goal, for example, one large egg contains about 5% of the daily value. (4)

Study shows that whole eggs are also an important source of choline, a nutrient that most people don’t get enough of.

9. Whole grains

Grains like wheat, rice, and oats contain some zinc. However, like legumes, cereals contain phytates that bind to zinc and reduce their absorption. Whole grains contain more phytates than refined types and are likely to provide less zinc.

However, they are much better for your health and are a good source of many important nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, manganese, and selenium.

10. Foods high in zinc- Some vegetables

In general, fruits and vegetables are poor sources of zinc, however, some vegetables contain reasonable amounts and can contribute to meeting your daily needs, especially if you do not eat meat, such as potatoes, green beans, and kale. (5)

11. Crab, lobster, and other shellfish

Shellfish, including crab and lobster, are also good sources of zinc. A 3.5-ounce serving of crab, for example, contains 6.5 mg of the mineral, while a 3-ounce serving of crab contains 3.4 mg.

12. Poultry

Chicken and other poultry are great sources of lean protein, iron, and a range of vitamins and minerals. Three ounces of chicken also contains 2.4 mg of zinc.

13. Lambs are high in zinc

Lamb is lean red meat and is a great source of selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, and protein. 3 ounces contain about 30% of the recommended daily value of zinc.

14. Black beans

Black beans are packed with protein and other nutrients, including iron and zinc. Legumes also have a lower glycemic index compared to other foods rich in carbohydrates, so they can prevent a spike in blood sugar.

15. Hummus

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, contain a decent amount of zinc at 1.3 mg per half-cup. Legumes are also rich in fiber and protein and contain good amounts of iron, folic acid, and other nutrients.

16. Pumpkin seeds

Seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. An ounce of dried pumpkin seeds contains 2.2 mg of zinc.

17. Breakfast Cereal

Mayer-Jacks says that many fortified bowls of cereal, such as breakfast cereals and oatmeal, are good sources of zinc.

Many types of cereal contain 25% of the daily value of zinc, and oatmeal contains about 1 mg per serving, according to the National Institutes of Health.

18. Mushroom

Eating more mushrooms can add several vitamins and minerals to your diet. It contains B vitamins, selenium, copper, potassium, and zinc. Mushrooms are also low in calories and rich in fiber.

19. Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and white potatoes contain about 1 mg of zinc, which is about 9% of the daily value. Potatoes are also rich in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.

20. Foods high in zinc- Oats

Not like oats?  Not only do oats contain soluble fiber, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Half a cup contains 1.3 milligrams of zinc, which is 16 percent of a woman’s daily needs. Consider it another reason to love the classic breakfast.

21. Hemp seeds

Are you looking for vegetarian sources of zinc? Hemp seeds are your best bet. It’s loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, and a serving of three tablespoons contains 3 milligrams of zinc, which is 38 percent of the recommended daily amount for women.

Hemp seeds are also high in the amino acid arginine, which research suggests can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Try sprinkling it on yogurt or salads to mix things up.

Per 3 tablespoons: 166 calories, 14.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 2 mg sodium, 2.5 g carbs, 0.5 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 9.5 g protein

Serving Per 1/cup (uncooked): 148 calories, 2.8 g fat (0.4 g saturated), 1.2 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 0.6 g sugar, 3.8 g fiber, 5.5 g protein

What are the Benefits of Zinc?

Zinc plays a vital role in our many body functions, including:

1. Physical Growth:

People need zinc for physical growth and development. Zinc deficiency in the body can lead to poor growth in children and adolescents.

2. Zinc for Immune system function:

Our bodies use zinc to build immune system cells which are known as T lymphocytes.

3. Enzyme function with zinc:

Zinc plays an important role in triggering chemical reactions in the body. These include helping the body use folic acid and create new proteins and DNA.

4. Eye health:

Zinc deficiency can contribute to the development of eye diseases, including macular degeneration.

5. Zinc for Wound healing:

Zinc helps to promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, which promotes our body’s wound healing.

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

In a study, NIH shows that most children and adults consume enough zinc. However, older adults may not be getting the recommended intake.

Some of the symptoms which are associated with zinc deficiency include:

  • Taste and smell are affected
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • weak immune response
  • Impotence
  • poor growth

Doctors do not have an easy blood test to determine if a person has a zinc deficiency. Instead, they often consider a person’s symptoms and average dietary intake when determining if they have a zinc deficiency.

Conversely, a person can also suffer from zinc toxicity from excess zinc supplementation. However, consuming foods that are rich in zinc – even in large amounts – does not usually cause symptoms.

Symptoms of Zinc Poisoning Include:

  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • headache
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting

Groups at High Risk for Zinc Deficiency

1. Alcoholics

30-50% of alcoholics have low levels of zinc because alcohol reduces zinc absorption and increases zinc excretion in the urine.

2. Vegetarians

The bioavailability of zinc is higher in meat and therefore it is easier to absorb. Furthermore, legumes and whole grains contain phytates that bind zinc and prevent absorption. Vegetarians should aim for 50% more DV of zinc each day to ensure proper levels. For more plant sources of zinc, see lists of zinc-rich plant foods, zinc-rich fruits, and zinc-rich vegetables.

3. Pregnant and Lactating Women

The developing fetus requires a high amount of zinc, similarly, a large amount of zinc is lost through breast milk after birth.

4. Older babies who are exclusively breastfed

Babies over 6 months of age should eat age-appropriate foods that provide zinc because the amount in breast milk is no longer sufficient.

5. People with sickle cell disease

For unknown reasons, 44% of children and 60-70% of adults with sickle cell disease have low zinc levels.

6. People with gastrointestinal and other diseases

Gastrointestinal surgery, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, short bowel syndrome, and other gastrointestinal diseases can reduce zinc absorption and increase zinc loss from the body.

7. People who consume high doses of iron supplements

Iron can interfere with zinc absorption, to reduce this effect, iron supplements should be taken between meals to allow zinc to be absorbed properly.

8. People taking diuretics

Thiazide diuretics such as chlorthalidone (Hygroton) and hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix, HydroDIURIL) can increase zinc excretion by 60% and, in the long run, deplete body tissues of zinc stores. Be sure to consult your doctor or physician to monitor your zinc level if you are taking these diuretics for an extended period of time, and be sure to eat more zinc-rich foods.

The Last Few Words

After doctors and specialists emphasized the importance of vitamins and certain elements in helping the body to confront the emerging coronavirus that causes (Covid-19), many people around the world rushed to obtain drugs that contain these substances, including (zinc, vitamin C, and omega-3).
Zinc is one of the important elements in the body and plays an important role in many major functions, and it can be obtained from food high in zinc, and animal products are the best because of their role in providing good amounts of zinc that is easy to absorb.
Zinc can also be obtained from plant sources, but The absorbed amount is not enough for what the body needs due to the effect of some plant compounds on absorption. In these cases, zinc supplements can be taken, taking into account the recommended daily amount to avoid zinc poisoning.

Best Zinc Supplements

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