Common foods rich in zinc aren’t so difficult to be found. Shellfish like oysters and red meat are advertised as the only good sources of zinc. In fact, many common vegan foods are rich in zinc, and the daily recommended intake of zinc of 8-12mg can be easily achieved. Such foods are legumes, whole-grains, seeds, and nuts.
Natural rich sources of zinc for vegetarians and vegans
Try to consume many of these vegan foods, in order to reach the RDI of zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause many diseases and hormonal imbalances. Zinc supplementation isn’t necessary if you follow a well-balanced vegan or vegetarian diet. Lots of whole-grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes should be consumed.
A vegan diet can inhibit the absorption of zinc because whole-grains and legumes contain some compounds, called phytates. Phytates inhibit dietary mineral absorption, like iron, calcium, and zinc. For this reason, vegans should increase the total amount of daily zinc intake, or even rinse legumes and germinate the nuts and seeds.
Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to the dietary minerals, calcium, iron, and zinc, inhibiting their absorption
According to the World Health Organisation, lean red meat, whole-grain cereals, pulses, and legumes provide the highest concentrations of zinc. Concentrations in such foods are generally in the range of 25–50mg/kg (380–760mmol/kg) raw weight (1).
For instance, some common cereals that contain some zinc are oats, wheat, rice, barley, or quinoa. The values are zinc in mg per 100gr of product, following by the percentage of Recommended Daily Intake ( it’s about 11mg).
- Oats, 3.64mg, 33%
- Wheat, 1.19mg, 11%
- Rice, 0.78mg, 7%
- Barley, 0.99mg, 9%
- Quinoa, 1.09mg, 10%
Don’t worry about phytates. Always consume whole-grains, as phytates are natural antioxidants and dietary phytic acid may lower the incidence of colonic cancer, protect against other inflammatory bowel diseases, and can help in the prevention of other chronic diseases (3). Instead, try to increase your total zinc volume of the day if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
did you know that potatos are rich in zinc?
Legumes are rich in zinc, as well as many other micronutrients. Along with grains should provide you with the bulk calories of the day.
Legumes rich in zinc are:
(zinc in mg per 100gr of product, percentage of recommended daily zinc intake):
- Lentils, 3.27mg, 30%
- Lupins, 4.75mg, 43%
- Black beans, 3.65mg, 33%
- Soybeans, 4.89mg, 44%
- Lima beans, 2.83mg, 25%
- Red kidney beans, 2.79mg, 25%
- Chickpeas, 2.76mg, 25%
- Green peas, 1.24mg, 11%
- Fava beans, 1mg, 9%
Eat beans and legumes daily. Try to eat different beans now and then, in order to combine different micronutrients. You should follow this simple rule in every meal or snack. Don;t go crazy. Just don’t eat the same food over and over again.
Many seeds are a good source of zinc. Common seeds rich in zinc are:
- Sesame seeds, 10.23mg, 93%
- Sunflower seeds, 5.29mg, 48%
- Pumpkin or squash seeds, 7.46mg, 67%
- Hemp seeds, 9.9mg, 90%
- Chia seeds, 4.58mg, 41%
- Flax seeds, 4.34mg, 39%
Whenever possible add spices to your food, as spices are the most nutrient foods on the planet. Some spice seeds contain good amounts of zinc. You won’t eat 100gr of cumin a day, but every spice will supercharge your immune system with healthful micronutrients and antioxidants.
Other not so common foods rich in zinc are:
- Dry watermelon seed kernels, 10.24mg, 93%
- Spices, cumin seed, 4.8mg, 43%
- Spices, dill seed, 5.2mg, 47%
- Spices, fennel seed 3.7mg, 33%
did you know that dark chocolate is rich in zink?
Nuts are wonderful snacks, can make our salads really tasteful, are a good source of healthy fats and protein, and can give us energy, as they are high in calories.
Common nuts that are rich in zinc are:
- Almond, 3.12mg, 28%
- Walnuts, 3.09mg, 28%
- Brazil nuts, 4.06mg, 37%
- Hazelnuts, 2.45mg, 22%
- Peanuts, 2.77mg, 25%
- Pecans, 4.53mg, 41%
- Pistachio, 2.34mg, 21%
- Macadamia, 1.3mg, 11%
- Chestnuts, 0.59mg, 3%
Other common foods rich in zinc
Dark chocolate contains some amount of zinc. Prefer the darkest chocolate, as it has more cacao particles, therefore dark chocolate has more antioxidants and zinc. As you can see, 70-85% cacao chocolate is the better option:
- Chocolate, dark, 45-59%, 2.01mg
- Chocolate, dark, 60-69%, 2.65mg
- Chocolate, dark, 70-85%, 3.31mg
Another common food, which can add to the total zinc consumption of the day is potato. YES, POTATO. Potatoes may contain 0.35-1.56mg of zinc. For instance, potato chips, made from dried potatoes contain 0.58mg of zinc, while potato bread contains 1.44mg of zinc per 100gr. A slice of potato bread contains 0.46mg of zinc.
Is that difficult to follow a vegan diet to reach 11mg per day?
Common foods rich in zinc to avoid
If you want to lose some weight avoid the excess dietary fats, even the “good ones”, as they have many more calories per gram. Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein and healthy fats. They’re also high in calories. Eat one or two handfuls a day if you want to lose fat and you don’t exercise regularly.
Furthermore, butter and oils can lose their vitamins and minerals. One good example is the popular peanut butter. Peanuts contain a good amount of zinc per 100gr of product at 2.77mg. On the other hand, peanut butter contains slightly less zinc at 2.55mg per 100gr of product. Zinc in peanuts and peanut butter is slightly different.
In addition to this, consider zinc in almond. Zinc in almond is 3.12mg, while zinc in almond milk is almost zero, at 0.07mg per 100gr of almond milk, as almond milk is mainly water.
Also, avoid butter and oils from nuts and seeds. They are super calorie-dense, with fewer health effects than the original food. Dietary fats are maybe the reason, you’re can’t lose weight easily.
- World Health Organisation – Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition.
- U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – Food Data
- NCBI – Pubmeb.gov – Antioxidant functions of phytic acid.