What foods contain zinc?
Sophia Power, BA Media
What is zinc good for?
Think zinc for immunity
A normal, healthy immune system is something you can really take for granted. Your immune cells are always busy working away behind the scenes supporting your immune system and its healthy function.
Zinc is a vital trace mineral that’s required for supporting important immune system function, including the activity of white blood cells. Ensuring your diet contains foods with zinc is an easy way to support your immune health.
Healthy hair, skin and nails
If you’re keen to support the health of your hair, skin and nails, you need to be aware of the importance of zinc. It supports the strength of the nails, the health of the hair, and the health and repair of the skin – including supporting wound healing.
Antioxidant to reduce free radical formation in the body
Antioxidants tend to bring to mind green tea, colourful fruits and exotic superfood blends, but due to their content of zinc, foods like oysters, lean beef and cashew nuts provide antioxidants too.
Antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, and a balance between antioxidants and free radicals is important. So, if you’re thinking you might need some more antioxidants in your diet, don’t overlook foods that contain zinc!
Other functions of zinc in the body
- Zinc is important for supporting healthy reproductive system, including prostate health and the healthy production of sperm
- If you’re looking for extra support for healthy blood sugar, it pays to include plenty of zinc-rich foods in the diet
- Zinc also supports healthy eyesight, brain and cognitive function
- And it’s required throughout childhood to assist in healthy growth and development
Ways to include foods that are high in zinc in your diet
In Australia, inadequate zinc intake is common – more than one in three men aged 19 years and over aren’t getting enough zinc in their diet (according to a survey from 2011-2013).1 One in every 10 Australian women aged 14 to 50 are also missing out on adequate daily zinc intakes.1
Here’s the thing: zinc is in a lot of delicious, healthy foods that are widely available. So why are so many Australians not getting enough?1
Zinc is particularly concentrated in animal products, including oysters, lean beef and lamb and dairy products like cheese and yoghurt – and it’s well absorbed from those sources too.
Many plant-based foods are also rich in zinc, however it is often less efficiently absorbed from these foods. Nevertheless, it’s simple to achieve healthy zinc intake by eating plant-based foods.
So, which foods contain zinc?
Here’s a list of some of the best foods to include in your diet for their high zinc levels:
Animal-based zinc-containing foods2
- Lean beef, lamb, pork and poultry
- Oysters, mussels
- Sardines, mackerel, salmon
- Crab, lobster, prawns
Plant-based zinc-containing foods2-4
- Pecans, cashews, almonds
- Wild rice
- Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds
- Shiitake mushrooms, white button mushrooms, spinach, avocado, asparagus
- Legumes, including black beans, chickpeas and lentils (TIP: Soak them to make the zinc and other nutrients more readily absorbed – this handy guide on how to properly prepare legumes will show you how)
Your zinc-boosting eating plan - ideas for recipes high in zinc
As you can see, there are plenty of foods high in zinc to snack on or make into a meal to ensure you get enough zinc every day. Check out our sample diet below for some ideas about incorporating plenty of zinc-rich foods into your diet.
Smoothie with one small banana, ¼ cup of rolled oats, 1 tablespoon of almond butter, 1 tablespoon of hemp, flax, chia or pumpkin seeds and 1 cup of almond milk (V)
Eggs and sautéed mushrooms on wholegrain sourdough with a sprinkling of hemp seeds
Wholegrain wrap with salad greens, black beans and hummus (V)
Salad greens with chicken or turkey breast, feta and pumpkin seeds
Lightly salted roasted chickpeas (V)
Cheese on gluten-free seed crackers
Vegan lentil dhal and brown rice with toasted cashews (V)
Beef or prawn and cashew stir-fry with wild rice
Introducing, Zinc Advanced
If you’re wanting some additional support for your immune system, skin and hair health, consider Fusion Zinc Advanced, a high-strength supplement with 163mg of zinc glycinate per tablet - a highly bioavailable form of zinc with enhanced absorption compared to some other types of zinc. Zinc Advanced also includes vitamins B6 and C, which work alongside zinc to help maintain healthy immune system function.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Australian health survey: usual nutrient intakes 2011-12. Commonwealth of Australia, 2015.
- My Food Data. Nutrient ranking tool. Accessed April 2021 from https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrient-ranking-tool/Zinc/All/Highest/Household/Common/No
- My Food Data. 23 high zinc foods for vegans and vegetarians. Last updated Jan 2021 and accessed May 2021 from https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/zinc-foods-for-vegans-vegetarians.php#vegetarian-zinc-foods
- Healthline. The 10 best foods that are high in zinc. Accessed May 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-high-in-zinc#:~:text=Nuts,cashews%20are%20a%20good%20choice.