12 Zinc-Rich Foods You Should Stock Up On

Foods Rich In Zinc

Boosting your zinc intake can be easy if you stock up on the right foods. Try wheat germ, yogurt, seeds, nuts for breakfast or those munchies. Hearty proteins like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, beans, and peas will do the trick as well. Or how about some exotic lobster or crab?

An essential trace mineral, zinc is needed by your body for the normal growth and development of your organs and bones, brain functions like cognition and memory, and various aspects of metabolism. It is essential for 300 enzymes in the body and is especially critical to your nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system.1

If you’re trying to combat a zinc deficiency or ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient, your diet can be a quick and easy step in the right direction. The body doesn’t have a way to store zinc, which is why it is important to ensure adequate intake on a daily basis. The recommended dietary allowance of zinc for men is 11 mg and 8 mg for women. Pregnant women too require 11 mg and nursing mothers must aim at 12 mg a day.2

While the old United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling values set the daily value (DV) for adults and children over 4 at 15 mg, that number now stands revised to 11 mg.3 In other words, to reach an ideal % DV of 20 or more, you need to look at foods which give you 2.2 mg or more of zinc per serving. All DVs below have been calculated using the new numbers.

1. Oysters

3 oz of oysters, cooked in moist heat: 28.25 mg of zinc (257% DV)

3 oz of oysters, cooked in moist heat: 28.25 mg of zinc (257% DV)

Oysters have long been recognized as a great source of zinc. Indulge in this healthy treat which has around 28.25 mg of zinc per 3 oz when cooked in moist heat – that’s about 257% DV!4 Shuck them and have them crumbed or breaded and you’d get 74.06 mg of zinc per 3 oz serving – a whopping 673% DV.5 You could also just have the oysters raw if you like, with a twist of lime or some tabasco or salsa. Make a stew with them or have them in a hearty soup if you enjoy a warming meal.

2. Shellfish

Alaska king crab has 6.5 mg of zinc per 3 oz once cooked, which gets you to 59% DV

If you love your shellfish to bits, this is going to be good news!

  • Alaska king crab has 6.5 mg of zinc per 3 oz once cooked, which gets you to 59% DV.6
  • There’s 4.65 mg of zinc or 42.3% DV in 3 oz of cooked Dungeness crab.7
  • Blue crab has 3.24 mg or 29.4% DV per 3 oz serving.8

Serve up your shellfish simply cooked in delicious butter and garlic to heighten that marine sweetness, or add a dash of spice and chili to make some Singapore style chili crab or peppery crab Indian style.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more indulgent, there’s bigger shellfish to fry!

  • Splurge on lobster and you get 3.4 mg (30.9% DV) of zinc in a 3 oz cooked serving.9
  • Shrimp has around 1.39 mg per 3 oz serving of cooked shrimp, meeting 12.6% DV.10

Lobster thermidor or shrimp ravioli for dinner perhaps?

3. Beef

A 3 oz serving of flank steak, braised: 4.90 mg of zinc (44.5% DV)

A 3 oz serving of flank steak, braised: 4.90 mg of zinc (44.5% DV)

A 3 oz serving of flank steak braised has 4.90 mg of zinc or 44.5% DV.11 So tuck into that beef curry or beef rendang for something exotic or have a good old roast beef or beef stir-fry dinner. If you’re strapped for time, a simple steak seared with a pat of herbed butter till it is meltingly delicious can be just as heavenly.

4. Lamb

A 3 oz roast lamb shank has 3.96 mg of zinc (36% DV).

Another great meat source of zinc is lamb. Try a Greek souvlaki or moussaka – the Greeks know how to do their lamb right! Or tuck into some lamb chops with peas or mint sauce. Or how about a rack of lamb rubbed with your own unique mix of herbs and spices.

So how much zinc can you expect from your lamb dinner or lunch? A 3 oz roast lamb shank has 3.96 mg of zinc (36% DV).12 Enjoy a good curry or kebab? A 3 oz serving of cubed lamb, braised to perfection, delivers a good 5.59 mg of zinc – that’s 51% DV.13

5. Chicken

A cup of stewed chicken: 2.46 mg (22.4% DV)

A cup of stewed chicken: 2.46 mg (22.4% DV)

Is poultry more your choice of protein? Roast chicken has 2.72 mg of zinc (24.7% DV) per cup of meat.14 A cup of stewed chicken has around 2.46 mg (22.4% DV) of the mineral.15 A cup of fried chicken meat has 3.14 mg of zinc (28.5% DV).16 Whether you’re having your chicken simply roasted, slow braised with vegetables, served with roast vegetables, in a hearty casserole or stew, or crumbed and fried, it is a versatile means to get your zinc.

6. Seeds

Choose from a variety of seeds that pack in plenty of zinc. Add some crunch to your morning cereal or oatmeal or yogurt with these seeds. Or roast them with spices for munchies between meals. You can even toss some into granola or a homemade trail mix for a healthy treat.

  • An ounce of pumpkin or squash seed kernels, roasted, has 2.17 mg of zinc (19.7% DV).17
  • An ounce of sesame seeds has 2.9 mg of the mineral (26.4% DV).18
  • If you have the typical 2 to 4 tablespoons of flaxseed every day, you’ll consume 0.9 mg to 1.8 mg of zinc.19 That’s 8.2% DV to 16.4% DV.

7. Nuts

An ounce of dry roasted cashews have around 1.6 mg of zinc.

Stock up on nuts for their zinc content. They make a great addition to home baking whether it is cakes or cookies. They also liven up a salad with some crunch and add volume to curries once ground up. So what’s to gain from these nuts?

An ounce of dry roasted cashews have around 1.6 mg of zinc, peanuts have 0.93 mg, and almonds have 0.88 mg in that serving size. So that’s between 14.5% DV and 8% DV depending on the nuts.20 21 22

8. Pork

A 3 oz pork loin chop: 2.9 mg of zinc (26.4% DV).

A 3 oz pork loin chop: 2.9 mg of zinc (26.4% DV)

Another meaty choice to up your zinc intake is pork! A 3 oz pork chop/loin has 2.9 mg of zinc (26.4% DV).23 Dig into your pork chops cooked in the oven or pan-fried till they’re crusty brown on the outside and delicate and soft on the inside. Experiment with marinades ranging from tart lemon juice to earthy sweet brown sugar or sauces like Worcestershire sauce. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to please!

9. Beans And Peas

Like your beans and peas? Then you can steer away from meaty proteins for your zinc intake. Make them into vegetarian chili or add them to beef chili for extra volume. Or try Indian style bean curries or spicy bean salsas. Even salads become heartier when they have a serving of beans in them. Here’s the zinc content for some popular varieties when cooked:

  • Baked beans has 2.9 mg of zinc (26.4% DV) in a half cup serving.24
  • Chickpeas contain 1.3 mg of zinc (11.8%) in a half cup serving.25
  • Kidney beans have 0.9 mg (8.2% DV) in a half cup serving.26
  • Soybeans has 0.99 mg of zinc (9% DV) in a half cup serving.27
  • Edamame, the green, less mature version of soybeans has 1.06 mg of the mineral (9.6% DV) in half a cup.28

10. Wheat Germ

Wheat germ packs in 4.73 mg of zinc or 43% DV per ounce.

Many cereals are zinc-fortified. Expect to get around 3.8 mg of the mineral (35% DV) from such cereals in a ¾ cup standard serving size.29

Wheat germ packs in 4.73 mg of zinc or 43% DV per ounce.30 You can add it directly to your morning cereal or yogurt and even into your eggs. If you bake at home, swap some flour with wheat germ. Some swear by it in sandwich spreads and mustard for a delicious zinc-enriched sandwich! A pack of instant oatmeal has around 1.1 mg of the nutrient – 10% of your DV.31 Add some wheat germ to it and you’ll do very well on your zinc intake for the day!

11. Yogurt

8 oz pack of plain yogurt: 1.34 mg of zinc (12.7% DV)

8 oz pack of plain yogurt: 1.34 mg of zinc (12.7% DV)

An 8 oz serving of plain yogurt from whole milk has 1.34 mg of zinc – that’s 12.7% DV.32 There’s 2.18 mg of zinc in an 8 oz pack of low-fat plain yogurt – that’s 19.8% DV.33 Low-fat fruit yogurt has 1.7 mg of zinc (15.4% DV) in an 8 oz serving.34 Sprinkle wheat germ or some seeds over your yogurt to up that zinc intake. Even if you don’t, yogurt has a good amount of the mineral, so just enjoy some plain, with fruit, or in a smoothie.

12. Cheese

Swiss cheese: 1.24 mg (11.3% DV) of zinc per ounce

  • Swiss cheese: 1.24 mg (11.3% DV) of zinc per ounce
  • Cheddar or mozzarella: 0.9 mg (8.2% DV) of zinc per ounce

Swiss cheese has 1.24 mg (11.3% DV) of zinc per ounce while cheddar or mozzarella contain about 0.9 mg (8.2% DV) of the mineral in that same serving size.35 36 Cheese is great eaten plain or melted until it oozes in a grilled cheese sandwich. For something more elaborate, make a cheese fondue or some chicken parmigiana – they’re all crowd pleasers!

Now that you’ve got this list at hand, go ahead and stock up on these zinc-rich foods!

References   [ + ]

1. Rink, Lothar. “Zinc and the immune system.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 59, no. 4 (2000): 541-552.
2, 6, 9, 20, 23, 24, 29, 31, 34. Zinc. Office of Dietary Supplements.
3. Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes of Health.
4. Mollusks, oyster, Pacific, cooked, moist heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
5. Mollusks, oyster, eastern, cooked, breaded and fried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
7. Crustaceans, crab, dungeness, cooked, moist heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
8. Crustaceans, crab, blue, cooked, moist heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
10. Crustaceans, shrimp, mixed species, cooked, moist heat (may have been previously frozen).United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
11. Beef, flank, steak, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 0” fat, choice, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
12. Lamb, domestic, leg, shank half, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/4” fat, choice, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
13. Lamb, domestic, cubed for stew or kabob (leg and shoulder), separable lean only, trimmed to 1/4” fat, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
14. Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat and skin, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
15. Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat and skin, cooked, stewed. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
16. Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat only, cooked, fried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
17. Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
18. Seeds, sesame seed kernels, toasted, without salt added (decorticated). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
19. Seeds, flaxseed. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
21. Peanuts, all types, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
22. Nuts, almonds. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
25, 26, 36. Zinc.Office of Dietary Supplements.
27. Soybeans, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
28. Edamame, frozen, prepared. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
30. Cereals ready-to-eat, wheat germ, toasted, plain. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
32. Yogurt, plain, whole milk, 8 grams protein per 8 ounce. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
33. Yogurt, plain, low fat, 12 grams protein per 8 ounce. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
35. Cheese, swiss. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.