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10 Best Zinc Rich Foods: Fruits & Vegetables Included

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiMay 13, 2024

Zinc is a crucial micronutrient that plays a vital role in over a hundred enzymatic reactions in the body. Therefore, it is imperative to include zinc-rich foods in your diet. This mineral, along with iron, is necessary in small quantities on a daily basis to support overall health and essential bodily functions. 

The advantages of zinc stem from its presence in all bodily tissues. It is essential for promoting healthy cell division and acts as an antioxidant by combatting free radical damage and slowing down the ageing process. Global research has highlighted zinc deficiency as a widespread issue, with insufficient zinc intake being a primary cause. 

Around 17.3% of individuals worldwide may not be consuming adequate levels of zinc in their diets. Shockingly, zinc deficiency ranks as the fifth most significant risk factor for disease worldwide. This deficiency can arise when there is a lack of zinc-rich foods in your diet or if there are difficulties in absorbing zinc due to digestive issues or poor gut health.

The encouraging news is that you can enjoy this vital mineral's numerous benefits by incorporating reliable sources of zinc into your daily meals. So, check out the top sources of zinc below:




10 Best Zinc Rich Foods: Fruits and Vegetables

Zinc is found in both animal and plant food sources. But it is best absorbed from animal protein. 

Despite the availability of plant-based sources of zinc, their bioavailability is reduced due to their high phytic acid content, which hinders the absorption of this mineral. Studies indicate that individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may require up to 50% more zinc in their daily diets to meet their needs. 

Nevertheless, the inhibitory effects of phytic acid on zinc absorption can be minimized through various methods such as soaking, heating, sprouting, and fermenting. Furthermore, the absorption of zinc can be enhanced by consuming yeast-based breads, sourdough breads, sprouts, and pre-soaked legumes.

Here is a list of the best zinc foods, including fruits and vegetables, that are considered the richest source of this mineral. 

(Note: Make sure to consult your doctor before making any major changes in your diet.)

1. Dairy products

Dairy items like milk and cheese contain Zinc. One cup of milk has 1.0 mg of Zinc, which is 9% of the daily value (DV), whereas 100 grams of cheese provides 3.1 gm of Zinc which is 21% of the DV. The Zinc in milk and cheese is bioavailable, which means our body absorbs it quickly.

2. Shellfish 

Oysters are high in Zinc and low in calories. That's because a half-dozen oysters contain about 32 milligrams of Zinc, which is about 291 per cent of the daily value for this mineral. Oysters are also rich in vitamin D, copper, and manganese.

Other shellfish, like crabs, contain 7.6 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams. This contributes 69% of the daily value. Mussels and shrimp also have a high Zinc content; they contain 14% of the daily value in 100 grams. 

3. Meat

Zinc can be found in large quantities in red meat. One hundred grams of meat contains 4.8 milligrams of Zinc, almost 44 per cent of the daily value. Apart from this, meat provides other essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, and iron. However, meat is also high in fat and cholesterol, so eating too much of it may increase your risk of heart disease and some cancers. It is best to eat meat in moderation.

4. Legumes

These are plant-based foods rich in Zinc. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans have abundant Zinc in them. Around 1 cup of legumes contains the following amount of Zinc.

  • Chickpeas: around 2.5 mg Zinc which is 17% of the DV

  • Kidney beans: 1.8mg, which is 12% of the DV

  • Lentils: 2.5 mg of Zinc which is 17% of the DV

Additionally, legumes are low in calories and fat, and high in protein, fibre, and other nutrients. Also, legumes contain phytates, which may inhibit the absorption of Zinc in your body. However, the inhibitory effect of phytates in legumes can be minimised by soaking, sprouting, heating, and fermenting. 

5. Seeds

Seeds such as hemp, pumpkin, flax, and sesame are high in Zinc. Here is a list of Zinc content in 30 grams of various seeds. 

  • Hemp seeds provide 5.0 mg of Zinc which is 34% of the daily value

  • Pumpkin seeds contribute 2.1mg of Zinc which is 14% of the DV

  • Flaxseeds have 1.2 mg of Zinc which is 8% of the DV

  • Sesame seeds give 2.2 mg of Zinc which is 14% of the daily value

Apart from being high in Zinc, these seeds have vitamins, minerals, and fibre in ample amounts. They make an excellent addition to your diet if you want to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

6. Nuts

Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and pine nuts contain Zinc. Cashews contain the most Zinc per serving: 30 grams of cashews contain 1.6 mg of Zinc, which is about 11% of your daily value.

Other than Zinc, nuts are also rich in vitamin E, B6, niacin, folate, magnesium, iron, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, healthy unsaturated fats, and fibre. Consuming nuts is beneficial in lowering the risk factors for some diseases like cancer and diabetes.

7. Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain less Zinc than meat and seafood. However, some of them contain a reasonable amount of Zinc and can contribute to your daily intake, especially if you are a vegetarian.

Some fruits that have Zinc are as follows. 

  • 1 cup (144 grams) of blackberries provides 0.8 mg of Zinc which is 5% of the DV

  • 1 cup (150 grams) of avocados has 1.0 mg of Zinc which is 6% of the DV

  • 1 pomegranate (around 285 grams) gives 1.0 mg of Zinc which is almost 7% of the DV

  • 1 medium-sized banana (about 118 grams) has 0.2 mg of Zinc and contributes 1% of the DV

  • 1 cup of  kiwi fruit (177 grams) gives 0.2 mg of Zinc which is 2% of the DV

  • 1 cup of apricot (165 grams) provides 0.3 mg of Zinc which is 2% of the DV

Some vegetables that have Zinc are as follows. 

  • 1 cup of cooked spinach (180 grams) provides 1.4 mg of Zinc, about 9 % of the DV

  • 1 cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms (145 grams) provides 1.9 mg of Zinc, which is 13% of the DV

  • 100 grams of green peas provide 1.2 mg of Zinc, around 8% of the DV

  • 1 cup of asparagus (134 grams) provides 0.7 mg of Zinc, about 5% of the DV

  • 1 cup of beet greens (144 grams) provides 0.7 mg of Zinc which is 5%of the DV

  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli (91 grams) gives 0.4 mg of Zinc, about 2% of the DV

  • 100 grams of okra provide 0.4 mg of Zinc which is 3% of the DV

8.  Poultry

Eggs and chicken contribute Zinc to your diet in moderate amounts, which can help you meet your daily target. A boiled egg contains 0.5 mg of Zinc, contributing 4% of the recommended daily intake of this mineral. A 140 g portion of cooked chicken contains 4 mg of Zinc or 27% of the recommended daily allowance. 

9. Oatmeal

This tasty, nutrient-rich breakfast item provides 2.9 mg of zinc (20% of your daily value). Besides Zinc, it is loaded with folate, vitamin B6, fibre, and beta-glucan, which keeps your heart healthy and helps regulate cholesterol levels.

10. Dark chocolates

It might surprise you to learn that dark chocolate has a considerable amount of Zinc in it. A 100-gram chocolate bar contains 3.3 mg of Zinc which is almost 22% of the daily value. Other than Zinc, dark chocolate is loaded with iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. It contains flavanol, an excellent source of antioxidants, and helps manage blood pressure, boosts immunity, and improves blood flow.

Signs of zinc deficiency

Some signs that your body doesn’t have sufficient levels of the zinc mineral include:

  • A lack of appetite

  • Wounds taking time to heal

  • Poor immunity

  • Unable to taste food properly

  • Loss of hair

The risk of zinc deficiency is high in the following individuals:

  • Alcoholics

  • People with digestive disorders

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women

  • Vegan or vegetarian individuals

  • People with sickle cell disease

How much zinc do you need?

Your daily zinc requirement is not too high. Since it is a trace mineral, small amounts can be healthy for your body. An adult male has a dietary allowance of 8 mg, and it is 11 mg for adult females. 

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, women usually have a higher zinc requirement. But, adults shouldn’t get a maximum of 40 mg of zinc per day. It’s the maximum amount for adults from all sources of zinc, including food and supplements. 

Benefits of zinc 

Consuming the best zinc foods offers the following benefits:

  • Fights oxidative stress: Since zinc is an antioxidant, it can combat oxidative stress. Therefore, this mineral can reduce the risk of several diseases. It also helps in fighting off different infections. 

  • Improves eye health: Zinc-enriched foods can activate vitamin A in the body to maintain strong vision. Therefore, the mineral can improve your night eyesight. Moreover, it prevents diminished vision by fighting inflammation and oxidation. 

  • Strengthens the immune system: Zinc-based foods can activate T-cells to support immune function. A high level of zinc in the body can keep the common cold and other illnesses at bay. 

  • Speeds up wound healing: The role of zinc in the human body also includes treating infections. Therefore, it can support faster recovery from wounds. 

  • Balances hormones: Zinc is essential for the synthesis of hormones. It has been demonstrated to naturally raise testosterone levels and sperm quality. It is necessary for women to produce progesterone and oestrogen. The primary hormone responsible for maintaining a normal blood sugar level, insulin, requires zinc in order to function properly. Therefore, consuming the best sources of zinc is quite important for diabetics.  

  • Enhances muscle repair and growth: Zinc is required to keep the skeletal and muscular systems strong since it is essential for cell growth and division. Following a zinc-rich foods chart on a regular basis also facilitates the release of growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor-1. All of these contribute to the development of muscle mass and the maintenance of a healthy metabolism.

  • Improves cardiovascular health: Adequate levels of zinc in the body are necessary to keep the cells in the cardiovascular system healthy. Moreover, this mineral improves heart health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 

  • Supports nutrient absorption: Zinc is required to use amino acids from food, which also impacts protein synthesis. Additionally, it has a role in the digestive process of carbohydrates, which are among people's main energy sources. For this reason, low energy and adrenal or chronic tiredness may result from not following a zinc-rich diet.

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that helps in keeping your immune system healthy. By consuming Zinc-rich foods, you can maintain healthy Zinc levels in your body and ward off infections and diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of some common queries along with their answers regarding Zinc-rich food items.

Which food items are rich in Zinc?


Food items like oysters, red meat, crabs, mushroom, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chicken, oatmeal, and chickpeas are rich in Zinc.

What are the benefits of Zinc?


Zinc is essential for strengthening immunity, protein and DNA synthesis, cell growth and cell division, healing wounds, and enhancing the sense of taste and smell.

What are the symptoms of Zinc deficiency?


The symptoms of Zinc deficiency may include the following. 

  • Delay in the healing of wounds

  • Weakened immunity

  •  Loss of taste and smell

  • Depression

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Skin infections

  • Fatigue

  • Diarrhoea

  • Hair loss

What blocks the absorption of Zinc?


Phytate, a natural component present in plants, inhibits the absorption of Zinc into your body.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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