What is Zinc: Benefits and Food Sources

What is Zinc: Benefits and Food Sources

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in more than a hundred enzymatic reactions in the body, which is why eating a diet high in zinc is so important.

This mineral (along with iron) is needed in small amounts every day to maintain health and perform important functions. 

Read: What is Magnesium: List of the Best Foods Containing Magnesium.

The benefits of zinc come from its presence in all body tissues — it is needed for healthy cell division, and acts like an antioxidant, fighting free radical damage and slowing the aging process. 

Zinc deficiency is recognized as a major malnutrition problem worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, millions of people worldwide may have inadequate levels of zinc in their diet.

In fact, zinc deficiency ranks as the fifth major risk factor for causing disease worldwide. 

This occurs when you don't have enough sources of zinc in the foods you eat, or you have difficulty absorbing zinc because of indigestion or very poor gut integrity. 

The good news is that if people consume a good source of zinc daily, such as the 17 food sources listed below, they can prevent inadequate levels and reap the benefits of this important mineral. 

17 Food Sources High in Zinc

What is Zinc: Benefits and Food Sources

Animal products are the best source of zinc compared to plant foods, such as vegetables, because the bioavailability of zinc (the fraction of zinc stored and used by the body) is high in foods such as animal meat and seafood.

Research suggests that this is due to the absence of compounds that inhibit zinc absorption in animal sources and the presence of sulfur-containing amino acids that increase zinc absorption, such as cysteine ​​and methionine.

Although plant-based zinc foods exist, they are less bioavailable due to their high content of phytic (or phytic) acid, which inhibits zinc absorption. 

Reports show that people who don't eat meat or animal products, such as people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, need up to 50 percent more zinc in their diet each day to absorb what they need.

However, the inhibitory effect of phytic acid on zinc absorption can be minimized by methods such as soaking, heating, germination, fermentation and yeast. 

Research has also shown that zinc absorption can be increased by using yeast-based breads and pre-soaked sourdough bread, sprouts, and peas.

The best way to achieve optimal zinc levels is to eat two to three servings of these zinc foods per day:

1. Oysters

3 medium-sized oysters: 16 milligrams (145 percent of the RDA)

Although eating oysters should not be eaten more often, oysters contain very high zinc. tall. 

Oysters offer a variety of nutrients, including protein and antioxidants, but eating them raw may contain bacteria and contaminants, including heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium.

There are healthier ways to include zinc in your diet, so stick to eating oysters only occasionally.

2. Lamb

3 ounces: 6.7 milligrams (45 percent of the RDA)

Lamb is a rich source of many vitamins, minerals. In addition to zinc, lamb contains vitamin B12, riboflavin, selenium, niacin, phosphorus and iron.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup: 6.6 milligrams (44 percent of the RDA)

Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are the main food for maintaining health in post-menopausal women. 

Pumpkin seeds are also good for the prostate, and improve your mental health.

4. Flaxseeds

1 ounce: 5 milligrams (34 percent of the RDA)

Flaxseeds are not only rich in zinc, but are also an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. 

They have been found to cause beneficial effects on your cardiovascular system and help prevent inflammation.

5. Grass

100 grams: 4.5 milligrams (30 percent of the RDA)

Nutrients for grass-fed beef include omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to help reduce weight loss. risk of heart disease, increase blood sugar, prevent weight gain and build muscle. 

While red meat is known for its extremely high zinc content, sticking to healthier options like grass-fed beef is ideal.

6. Beans (Garbanzo Beans)

1 cup: 2.5 milligrams (17 percent of the RDA)

Chickpeas, like all legumes, are complex carbohydrates that the body can digest slowly and use for energy. Studies show that chickpeas increase satiety and aid in weight loss.

They also improve digestion by quickly moving food through the digestive tract. Apart from garbanzo beans, black beans and edamame are also good sources of zinc.

9. Lentils

1 cup: 2.5 milligrams (17 percent of the RDA)

Lentils are known for their beneficial effects. They are rich in polyphenols and micronutrients, including zinc.

Lentils serve as plant-based protein, making them an excellent zinc-rich food for vegetarians.

10. Cocoa Powder

1 ounce: 1.9 milligrams (13 percent of the RDA)

Cocoa powder is a good source of two flavonoids, epicatechin and catechin, which act as antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and disease.

Research shows that the presence of flavonoids in cocoa powder helps increase blood flow and also lowers blood pressure.

11. Cashews

1 ounce: 1.6 milligrams (11 percent of the RDA)

Cashews are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and high in protein. 

Studies show that cashew nuts help fight heart disease, reduce inflammation, promote bone health and support healthy brain function.

These nuts help you lose or maintain weight because they make you feel fuller and curb food cravings. 

Plus, cashews have a good zinc-copper ratio. This helps ensure that these two minerals remain in balance.

12. Kefir or Yogurt

1 cup: 1.4 milligrams (10 percent of the RDA) (values ​​vary)

Kefir and yogurt are cultured dairy products that serve as probiotic foods. They have been shown to support a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.

Kefir and probiotic yogurt support healthy digestion, boost the immune system, improve heart function, and regulate your mood.

11. Ricotta Cheese

Cup: 1.4 milligrams (10 percent of the RDA)

cheese is one of the healthiest cheese choices because it contains large amounts of healthy fatty acids and micronutrients, including zinc. 

Compared to many other cheeses, ricotta has been shown to be lower in sodium and saturated fat, and is considered "fresh cheese" because it is not aged.

12. Mushrooms

1 cup: 1.4 milligrams (9 percent of the RDA)

The proven nutritional benefits of mushrooms include their ability to boost immunity due to their antioxidant activity and reduce inflammation.

13. Spinach

1 cup: 1.4 milligrams (9 percent of the RDA)

Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense options. It contains special protective carotenoids that have been linked to a reduced risk of many diseases, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and even more.

14. Avocado

1 avocado: 1.3 milligrams: (8 percent RDA)

If you are looking for a fruit that contains zinc, choose avocado. It is known as one of the healthiest foods on the planet as it is packed with essential nutrients.

Research shows that avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake.

15. Chicken

100 grams: 1 milligram (7 percent of the RDA)

In addition to the zinc present in chicken, it is also a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. 

Vitamin B12 in chicken shows that it helps maintain energy levels, improves mood, supports a healthy heart and promotes healthy skin.

16. Almonds

1 ounce: 0.9 milligrams (6 percent of the RDA)

Want to know which nuts are high in zinc? The nutrition of almonds is truly extraordinary, and many studies show that they are beneficial for many aspects of overall health, including cardiovascular function and weight control.

In addition to their zinc content, almonds also provide vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and riboflavin, among other important micronutrients.

17. Egg

1 large egg: 0.6 milligrams (5 percent RDA)

Eggs are rich in nutrients and help protect us from a variety of problems, including heart disease, diabetes, macular degeneration, and mood disorders. 

Studies also show that eating eggs can help you lose weight.

Benefits of Zinc for the Body

What is Zinc: Benefits and Food Sources

Consuming a good source of zinc on a regular basis is beneficial in the following ways:

Works as a powerful antioxidant 

Zinc helps fight oxidative stress and reduces your chances of developing a number of serious diseases. 

In fact, zinc supplementation significantly decreased infection rates in participants aged 55 to 87 years in a randomized controlled trial.

Promotes eye health  

Read: Vitamins and Minerals Maintain Metabolism

Zinc is needed to convert vitamin A into its active form to maintain proper vision. 

An adequate source of zinc can help improve night vision and more. This is due to zinc's ability to reduce oxidation and inflammation, which are associated with reduced eye function.

Improves immune function

Research shows that humans need zinc to activate T-cells, which are essential for proper immune function. 

That is why people who are deficient in zinc tend to be more susceptible to various ailments from a weakened immune system, including the common cold.

Promotes wound healing 

Zinc benefits skin integrity and helps treat infections. Research shows that people who delay wound healing tend to have low zinc levels.

Balances hormones and supports reproduction  

Zinc plays an important role in hormone production. It is necessary for the production of estrogen and progesterone in women, and has been shown to naturally increase testosterone levels and sperm quality. 

Zinc is also needed to balance insulin, the main hormone involved in normal blood sugar regulation.

Promotes muscle growth and repair 

Research has found that zinc plays an important role in cell division and cell growth, making it necessary to maintain strength in the muscular and skeletal systems. 

Eating a good source of zinc each day also aids in the release of testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1, all of which build muscle mass and help you maintain a healthy metabolism.

Helps absorption of nutrients  

Zinc affects protein synthesis and is needed to use amino acids from food. 

It is also involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, which are some of the main sources of energy for humans. This is why zinc deficiency can lead to low energy levels and contribute to adrenal or chronic fatigue.

Improve cardiovascular function 

Research has shown that zinc is needed to maintain healthy cells in the cardiovascular system, while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.


Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in more than a hundred enzymatic reactions in the body. 

It is necessary for proper cell division, and acts like an antioxidant, fighting free radical damage and slowing the aging process. 

It also supports immune system function and helps fight the common cold. 

Zinc deficiency is now recognized as an important malnutrition problem worldwide, and inadequate zinc intake is one of the main causes. 

Most foods high in zinc come from animals, such as grass-fed beef, lamb, and chicken, but there are also plant foods that contain zinc, including chickpeas, avocado, and lentils.

Eating enough zinc boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, fights oxidative stress, supports the heart, promotes muscle growth and helps balance your hormones.

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