Food With High Zinc And Iron


There are many foods that are rich in zinc and iron. These include liver, lentils, beef, crab, oyster and turkey. Zinc is extremely important for proper growth and development of embryos and fetuses during pregnancy. It is required for the activity of over 300 enzymes. Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood stream to all parts of your body. Red blood cells take oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body where it is needed most. Iron is also necessary for energy metabolism and many other important functions.

Top 11 Zinc-rich Foods For Our Better Health

Top 11 Zinc-rich Foods For Our Better Health


Do you know the importance of zinc-rich foods in your daily diet? What are the benefits of dietary zinc? What are the dietary zinc sources? What happens if your diet contains lacks this mineral?

zinc-rich foods

Yes! Today we discuss all the vital facts about zinc and its dietary sources.  

Zinc is an essential mineral and plays several important roles in the body. It is essential because our body does not produce, and must be obtained through foods or sometimes supplements.

Our body needs a small amount of zinc, but its role in overall growth and well-being is enormous.

It is the second most abundant trace mineral after iron.

Generally, the blood contains 0.7mg/100ml and serum contains 0.1mg/100ml zinc. It is slightly higher in the pancreas, teeth, and bones.

In the body, zinc mostly present in the combination with other constituents, such as enzymes.

The daily requirement of dietary zinc is 8-10 mg for women and 10-15 mg for men.

Functions of Dietary Zinc

The functions of dietary zinc in the growth and overall health are well documented.

It helps in the proper functioning of almost 300 types of enzymes (metalloenzyme) in the body, which acts on our metabolism, nerve functioning, digestion, etc.

For the development of the immune system, protecting from diseases, and infections, zinc-rich foods are quite important.

It transports vitamin-A to the retina and maintains eye health as well as plays a fundamental role in DNA and protein synthesis.

For a successful pregnancy, and maintaining male fertility, this trace mineral too important.

Important Health Benefits of Zinc

As an essential mineral, zinc provides several health benefits.

Dietary zinc is too important to develop and boosting immunity. It activates T-lymphocytes (T-cell) and maintains proper immune responses.

Cancer prevention is another benefit of zinc. This mineral acts as an antioxidant, reduces oxidative damage, and decreases the risk of cancer.

So, adequate amounts of zinc-rich foods or supplements are very effective during chemotherapy.

On the other hand, Study shows that it may important to regulating a proper heartbeat, fight against arrhythmia, and reduces the risk of heart failure.

Dietary zinc also plays an important role in wound healing. It promotes collagen synthesis around the wound as well as boosts immune response.

In our body, zinc transports vitamin A to the retina and prevents age-related macular degeneration.

It is very effective in mental health and acts as an anti-depressant. It promotes the brain-derived neurotrophic factor and can reduce anxiety as well as irritability.

According to the study, the administration of zinc supplements results in reduce the number of stool output and decrease the risk of persistent diarrhea.

So, to prevent diarrhea, other various diseases, infections, and boosting our immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic, foods rich in zinc must be present in our diet.

Zinc-rich Foods in the Diet

It is an essential trace mineral, so we have to depend on dietary zinc sources to fulfill the daily requirements.

The food sources may be plants or animals. These are the top 11 foods, which contain significant amounts of trace minerals.

i. Whole Grains

Whole grains are one of the important zinc-rich foods.

Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, wheat, quinoa, etc. are a great source of zinc.

whole grains & dietary zinc

They are considered vital sources of other nutrients, like dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, vitamin B, phosphorus, selenium as well as zinc.

Additionally, reduces the risk of obesity, and the fiber content also effective to maintain blood sugar levels. They strengthen our immune system.

Oats contain a potent soluble fiber called β-glucan which regulates blood cholesterol levels and improves blood sugar.

On the other hand, oats maintain the growth of accurate gut-friendly micro-organisms. That means it acts as a prebiotic food.

The fiber content of quinoa is two times more than other grain, most effective to fill satiety and healthy option for weight management.

So, zinc-rich whole grains have been linked to a longer life along with numerous health benefits. 

ii. Dairy Products

Dairy products are the most important zinc-rich foods.

Milk, swiss cheese and yogurt are the notable sources of high concentrations of bioavailable zinc.

It means, most of the zinc content in these foods is easily absorbed by our body.

Dairy & Zinc Diet

The standard serving size of full-fat milk (1 cup, or 250 ml) contains almost 9% dietary zinc of the daily value, which is almost 1.02 mg.

On the other hand, 250 ml of yogurt also provides 20-22% and 100 gm of cheese contains 28% zinc of the daily value.

Besides the zinc content, dairy products also provide vitamin D, calcium, protein, etc. All are important for bone health.

Additionally, yogurt is a probiotic food, which promotes gut health, improves digestion reduces belly fat and keeps our heart healthy.

So, you can put milk in your dinner, yogurt with few berries in your lunch or evening snack, and swiss cheese for your sandwich. 

iii. Edible Seeds

Edible seeds are the healthy option in your zinc-rich diet. They can increase zinc intake in the body.

Among various seeds, the most effective are pumpkin, hemp, and flax seeds.

According to the USDA, 28 gm of pumpkin seeds* contain almost 20% (2-2.20 mg) zinc of the daily value.

seeds as zinc-rich foods

On the other hand, 30 gm of hemp seeds contain 30-40% of the daily value. Some other seeds that contain adequate zinc are sesame, squash, etc.

With other zinc-rich foods, these seeds have a significant role in our health.

They maintain blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels, and promote a healthy heart.

Not only zinc, but these seeds also rich in healthy unsaturated fats (omega-3), dietary fiber, other minerals, vitamins, and make our diet healthy.

*Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens, which produce estrogenic effects. According to the study, in post-menopausal women, 2 gm of pumpkin seed oil per day, for 12 weeks can reduce blood pressure and menopausal symptoms. 

But due to excess consumption of pumpkin seeds may increase blood cholesterol levels after menopause.

iv. Nuts

Another important zinc-rich food is nuts. The common nuts are peanut, almonds, pine nuts, cashew, etc.

Almonds, cashew, peanuts boost zinc intake in the body. They also contain dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, healthy fats.

nuts are vital sources of zinc

They are also quick and convenient snacks on the daily diet.

Every 28 gm (standard serving) of peanuts and cashew provide zinc by 16% and 15% of the daily value respectively.

Nuts have been linked to living longer and reducing the risk of cardiac issues, diabetes, and cancer.

They are important sources of antioxidants. So, if you have a weight loss goal or a goal of better health, try to incorporate nuts in regular meals.

v. Legumes

Without legumes, this list cannot be completed.

Legumes, such as chickpeas, beans, and lentils are the significant sources of zinc.

Legumes are the vital zinc-rich foods for vegetarians and the only zinc sources on the vegan diet.

Every 100 gm of canned chickpeas provides almost 19% of the daily value. On the other hand, 100 gm of lentils contains around 11-12% zinc.

Legumes & Zinc

Legumes* are very popular for relatively few calories, low fat, high protein, and fiber content.

The mineral bioavailability increases when these source foods are on heating, fermenting, or sprouting.

In the case of zinc-rich beans, lima, and kidney beans are very popular. Lima beans contain folate, vitamin B6, fiber, and protein. They protect from cancer in the digestive tract.

Kidney beans reduce the concentration of C-reactive protein which responsible for inflammatory diseases. They also help to maintain blood sugar levels.

*Legumes contain some anti-nutrients, called phytates. These compounds reduce the absorption of zinc in the body. Due to these phytates, legumes are less convenient sources of zinc than animal sources.

vi. Garlic

Garlic is a popular food component of the Mediterranean diet and an important member of the zinc-rich foods list.

garlic & Dietary zinc

It contains an organosulfur compound Allicin, which acts as an antioxidant. It can combat free radicals, and assist to prevent cognitive decline.

It exhibits strong cardio-protective effects also, and reduces blood pressure, bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as protects our heart from atherosclerosis, stroke, etc.

Garlic has anti-inflammatory effects. It can also help to detoxify heavy metals in our bodies.

vii. Mushrooms and Veggies

Other important zinc-rich foods are mushrooms and veggies.

Mushrooms are the rarest set of germaniums of edible fungi and a significant source of nutrients. Mushrooms allow our body to use more oxygen efficiently.

mushrooms & veggies

According to the USDA, raw mushrooms contain almost 3% daily value of zinc and very few calories.

The serving size 85 gm of mushrooms rich in only 28 calories. On the other hand, they provide high protein and vital minerals.

Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale are containing dietary zinc.

In addition to zinc, these veggies also provide calcium, potassium, copper, vitamin A, K, B6, C, and very low calories.

viii. Eggs

When we talk about zinc-rich foods from animal sources, then the egg comes first on the list.

Egg contains a moderate amount of zinc. 1 normal size egg rich in almost 4-5% of the daily value.

eggs & dietary zinc

On the other hand, it contains low calorie, high protein, healthy unsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), selenium, and vitamin-B.

High thermogenic food eggs increase the body’s metabolism, reduces excess body fats, and control obesity.

It is a significant source of choline also.

But one thing to keep in mind, boiled, or poached eggs provide all these health benefits properly. In the case of omelets, maximum benefits are lost.

ix. Seafood

Seafood is an edible marine life; it is either animal sources or plant sources.

Since we are talking about zinc-rich foods, the seafood that is included in this list is shellfish, such as oysters, crabs, lobsters, etc.

zinc & shellfish

According to the USDA, an oyster is a zinc powerhouse on the daily diet.

Every 85 gm (standard serving) of oyster provides almost 5.5 mg zinc, which is 50% of the recommended daily value.

Oyster also contains low calorie, selenium, vitamin-B12, etc.

On the other hand, crabs, and lobsters are significant sources of dietary zinc.

85 gm cooked king crabs contain 6.5 mg zinc, which is 59% of the daily value.

85 gm steamed or boiled lobsters provide almost 4.7 mg zinc, 43% of the daily value.

With other zinc-rich foods, all the seafood may an important part of any heart-healthy diet plan.

x. Meat

Meat is an excellent source of dietary zinc.

Red meat, such as goat, lamb, pork, and beef provides almost 44-45% of the daily value. Every 100 gm of red meat contains 4.6-4.8 mg of dietary zinc.

Besides zinc, this amount also provides 20 gm protein, 10 gm fat, 176 calories, vitamin B, iron, and many more nutrients.

Chicken can beat maximum meals with regards to the protein content as well as dietary zinc.

According to the USDA, 200 gm chicken provides 2.13 mg of zinc, which is 19% of the daily value.

meat is an excellent source of zinc

It also contains vitamin B6, B3, iron, selenium, and any other essential nutrients that are regarded to fight cancer.

 Another zinc-rich food is turkey meat. It is also wealthy in protein.

Every 85 gm of turkey meat provides 1.8 mg dietary zinc. Turkey can also help decrease the risk of several varieties of cancer.

The protein content also can preserve insulin levels stable after meals.

So, the meat on the diet must be fresh because processed meat increases the risk of heart diseases, cancers, obesity, indigestion, and other health issues.

xi. Dark Chocolate

Yes! It is a sweet surprise. Dark chocolate is a yummy food content in the zinc-rich foods list.

The main ingredient of dark chocolate is cacao.According to the USDA, every 28 gm of dark chocolate with 65-69% cacao, rich in 7% (0.75 mg) of the daily value of dietary zinc.

Zinc-rich Foods

This amount of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao, also rich in 8% (0.90 mg) of the daily value.

The antioxidants of dark chocolate lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and can prevent the risk of cancer.

Now, The Conclusion

Dietary zinc is an essential mineral for our better health. So, consuming enough zinc-rich Food is very important.

These foods are just tasty and easy to incorporate into the daily diet.

In a busy daily life, sometimes it is not possible to keep all these foods in our diet. But we can get the daily value from the zinc supplements.

As we know, supplementation may produce some side effects. So, you can take zinc supplements under the supervision of a physician or dietician.

Foods high in zinc

A woman eating oysters which are among the Foods high in zinc
Oysters are one of the foods highest in zinc.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source recommend the following daily intake of zinc:

  • males aged 14 and older: 11 milligrams (mg)
  • females aged 14 and older: 9 mg
  • pregnant women: 11 mg
  • women who are lactating: 12 mg

It is well known that of all food types, oysters contain the most zinc per serving. However, most peopleTrusted Source get their zinc from poultry and red meat.

Food manufacturers may also fortify foods with zinc to help a person meet their daily requirements.

Examples of foods high in zinc includeTrusted Source:

  • oysters, 3 ounces (oz): 74 mg
  • beef patty, 3 oz: 5.3 mg
  • Alaska king crab, 3 oz: 6.5 mg
  • fortified breakfast cereal, 3/4 cup serving: 3.8 mg
  • cooked lobster, 3 oz: 3.4 mg
  • cooked pork chop loin, 3 oz: 2.9 mg
  • baked beans, 1/2 cup serving: 2.9 mg
  • dark meat chicken, 3 oz: 2.4 mg

Other zinc sources in a person’s diet include low fat yogurt, pumpkin seeds, milk, chickpeas, instant oatmeal, almonds, and Cheddar cheese.

These all contain around 1–2 mg of zinc per serving.

Zinc sources for vegans and vegetarians

a bucket of nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is a good source of zinc for vegans and vegetarians.

Without proper planning, vegan and vegetarian diets can result in deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin B-12, iron, calcium, iodine, vitamin D, and zinc.

Examples of vegan and vegetarian friendly foods that are high in zinc include:

  • beans
  • nutritional yeast
  • nuts
  • oats
  • seeds
  • wheat germ

Vegetable based zinc sources are not as bioavailable as animal based sources, which means that the body does not absorb zinc from vegetarian sources as effectively.

According to 2017 researchTrusted Source, a person eating a vegetarian or vegan diet may need to consume 50% more zinc than people who regularly eat animal products.

This means that male vegans and vegetarians may need to eat about 16.5 mg of zinc each day, while females following these eating patterns should eat up to 12 mg per day.

If a person chooses to supplement their diet with zinc, they may wish to avoid taking it at the same time as supplements of calcium, copper, folic acid, iron, and magnesium. This is because these nutrients can affect how the body absorbs zinc.

What are the benefits of zinc?

Zinc plays a role in several bodily functions, including:

  • Growth: People require zinc for physical growth and development. Zinc deficiency can result in impaired growth in children and adolescents.
  • Immune system function: Our bodies use zinc to build immune system cells called T lymphocytes.
  • Enzyme function: Zinc plays a pivotal role in triggering chemical reactions in the body. These include helping the body use folic acid and creating new proteins and DNA.
  • Eye health: Zinc deficiency can contribute to the development of eye conditions, including macular degeneration.
  • Wound healing: Zinc helps promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, which boosts wound healing.

Zinc deficiency

a man getting stomach cramps on his sofa
Stomach cramps may be a sign of zinc toxicity.

According to the NIHTrusted Source, most children and adults consume enough zinc. Older adults, however, may not get the recommended intake.

Some of the symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include:

  • affected taste and smell
  • appetite loss
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • impaired immune response
  • impotence
  • poor growth

Doctors do not have an easy blood test to determine if a person is zinc deficient. Instead, they will often consider the person’s symptoms and average dietary intakes when determining if they are zinc deficient.

Conversely, a person can also experience zinc toxicity from excess zinc supplementation. However, eating foods high in zinc — even in large amounts — does not usually cause symptoms.

Symptoms of zinc toxicity include:

  • appetite loss
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting


Zinc is present in many natural foods, and many manufacturers add zinc to foods such as cereals.

Meat based products are usually higher in bioavailable zinc. If a person does not eat meat, they may need to make an effort to increase their zinc intake through eating beans, seeds, and oats, among other zinc-containing foods.

Although zinc deficiencies are rare in the United States, people should always speak to a doctor if they have concerns about their nutrient intake.

People can find zinc supplements at their local pharmacy or drugstore.

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