10 Foods That Are High In Zinc To Add To Your Daily Diet

Plus, how plant-based eaters can get their fill.


Christine Byrne |

Unless you’re a die-hard nutrition buff or an expert in biochemistry, you likely only associate zinc with old-school sticks of sunscreen your mom made you use at the beach. But zinc is also an essential trace mineral — and since your body can’t produce or store it, you need to eat foods high in zinc on the reg.

Though you might not hear much about it as, say, vitamin C, zinc does a lot in your body.

In fact, the often-overlooked mineral is “important for your immune system, wound healing, and protein synthesis,” says Amy Gorin, a nutritionist in the New York City area. (It also helps maintain your sense of taste and smell, which you def don’t want to lose…)

Zinc’s immune benefits are so legit that it may lessen the duration and severity of the common cold, according to research published in 2015.

Here’s how the immunity magic happens: “Zinc contributes to the development of cells that are in charge of defending your body against toxins or threatening foreign substances,” Gorin says.

Luckily, you don’t need too much of the mineral. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), adult women need eight milligrams of zinc per day. (Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more.)

When you’re deficient in zinc, though, your immune system’s defences pay the price and you’re more susceptible to illness, Gorin says.

Though most people don’t need to worry about zinc deficiency, certain groups — including people with digestive disorders and certain chronic illnesses, and pregnant and breastfeeding women — are at greater risk.

Vegetarians and vegans are also more likely to fall short on the mineral, since it’s harder to absorb the zinc found in plant-based foods than that in animal sources.

To reap the benefits, put the following foods — all good sources of zinc — on your plate often.

1. Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re looking for a plant-based zinc source that’s super versatile and easy to add to countless meals, go with pumpkin seeds. An ounce contains not just 2.2 milligrams of zinc (28 percent of a woman’s recommended daily amount), but also a whopping 8.5 grams of plant-based protein. Plus, some evidence suggests that eating a diet rich in pumpkin seeds could lower your risk of some cancers.

Per 28-gram serving: 158 calories, 13.9 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 2 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, 0.4 g sugar, 1.7 g fibre, 8.5 g protein

2. Oats

What’s not to like about oatmeal? It’s inexpensive, versatile, and endlessly cosy. Not only do oats contain soluble fibre, which has been linked to a lowered risk of heart disease, but half a cup also contains 1.3 milligrams of zinc, which is 16 percent of a woman’s daily need. Consider it yet another reason to love the classic breakfast staple.

Per ½-cup (uncooked) serving: 148 calories, 2.8 g fat (0.4 g saturated), 1.2 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 0.6 g sugar, 3.8 g fibre, 5.5 g protein

3. Oysters

Per gram, oysters have the highest zinc concentration of any food. Three ounces of raw oysters contain 32 milligrams of zinc, more than three times your recommended daily intake.

Per 85-gram serving: 50 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 4.5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 151 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 4 g protein

READ MORE: 10 Best Fitness Foods For Women

4. Lean Sirloin Steak

Love digging into a tender cut of meat on occasion? Opt for lean sirloin with most of the fat trimmed, and you’ll get five milligrams of zinc per four-ounce serving.

Per 113-gram serving: 144 calories, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 63 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 25 g protein

5. Crab

Love hammering the meat out of whole boiled crabs? Or, do you prefer the ease (and delicious seasoning) of seared crab cakes?

Either way, three ounces of cooked crab meat contains up to 7 milligrams of zinc, about 88 percent of what women need in a day. While the exact amount of zinc you’ll get varies from species to species, all crabs are great sources of the mineral.

Per 80-gram serving of crab: 82 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 911 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g fibre, 15 g protein

6. Hemp Seeds

Looking for plant-based sources of zinc? Hemp seeds are your best bet. Try sprinkling these seeds on your yoghurt or salad to mix things up. They’re loaded with healthy fats, and a three-tablespoon serving contains three milligrams of zinc.

Per tablespoon serving: 166 calories, 14.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 2.5 g carbs, 0.5 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 9.5 g protein

7. Chickpeas

Beans and legumes are another great plant-based option if you want to up your zinc intake without meat. A cup of cooked chickpeas is high in fibre and protein, and contains 2.5 milligrams of zinc.

Per 1-cup serving: 269 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 45 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 11 mg sodium, 12.5 g fibre, 14.5 g protein

READ MORE: 13 Foods With More Protein Than An Egg

8. Black Beans

Another excellent plant source of zinc? Black beans. Toss a cup of cooked black beans on top of a salad and you’ll get two milligrams of zinc.

Per 1-cup serving: 227 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 41 g carbs, 0.5 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 15 g fibre, 15 g protein

9. Greek Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt has so many stellar health benefits, and here’s another one to add to the list: a 200-gram container of plain, low fat Greek yogurt packs 1.5 milligrams of zinc, nearly a quarter of your daily need.

Per 200-gram serving: 146 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 8 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 68 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 20 g protein

10. Cashews

Cashews are one of the most affordable nuts—and, in my totally biased opinion, the most delicious—so there’s no reason not to keep a container in your pantry. You can eat them roasted or raw, since minerals aren’t affected by heat, and get just over 1.5 milligrams of zinc per ounce.

Per 28-gram serving: 157 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 8.5 g carbs, 1.5 g sugar, 3 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 5 g protein

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

READ MORE ON: Healthy Eating Tips Nutrition Nutrition Advice

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