The Power of Zinc

Hello Healthy Friends!

Did you know that a healthy amount of zinc in your diet has been linked to an improved immune system and faster wound healing?  Some studies have linked proper amounts of zinc to reduced severity and duration of the common cold, may improve thyroid function, more effective blood clotting, and even decreased effects of age-related macular degeneration.  A June 2015 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry  found that zinc may also play an important role in regulating heartbeat — a potential advancement in the fight against arrhythmia-related heart failure. Zinc is an essential trace mineral, which means our bodies only need a small amount of it (8 mg for adult women and 11 mg for adult men) to maintain good health. While only a small amount may be needed, don’t underestimate the power of this mighty mineral. Here are 10 foods that can help you hit your zinc quota every day.

(1) Oysters are a zinc powerhouse that packs in 5.3 mg per medium oyster. The shellfish is also high in protein, relatively low in calories, and packed with other valuable vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B-12, iron, and selenium.

(2) Crab and lobster are both excellent sources of zinc. Per 3-ounce serving, Alaskan king crab packs in 43 percent (6.5 mg), and lobster provides 23 percent (3.4 mg), of the recommended daily value. Certain types of fish, such as sardines, salmon, flounder, and sole, also contain zinc, but in less potent doses. A wide variety of seafood is a great addition to any heart-healthy diet.

(3) Beef, pork, and chicken are not only packed with protein — they also provide a good helping of zinc. For the most nutritious cuts, choose lean meats with any visible fat removed, or skinless poultry.  Just three ounces (the size of a deck of cards) of roasted, skinless chicken breast provides 6 percent (0.9 mg) of the daily recommended value of zinc.  Eggs also contain zinc — 4 percent (0.6 mg) per large egg and also provide 6 grams of protein.

(4) Nutritious vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, kale, and garlic contain zinc, as well as other vital vitamins and minerals.  Per cup of raw veggies, mushrooms and kale both contain 2 percent (0.4 mg) of the daily value of zinc.

(5) Legumes:  Foods like hummus, chickpeas, lentils, edamame, and black beans provide extra zinc along with other health benefits. Per quarter cup, hummus provides 7 percent (1.1 mg) of the daily recommended value of zinc, while chickpeas and lentils each pack 4 percent (0.6 mg), and edamame and black beans have 3 percent (0.5 mg). For relatively few calories, legumes are a great low-fat, high-protein food packed with vitamins, minerals, and lots of dietary fiber.

(6) Nuts and seeds are another great source of zinc,.  Toss an ounce of pumpkin seeds or pine nuts into your salad and get 15 percent (2.2 grams) and 12 percent (1.8 g) of your daily value, respectively.  Try a handful of cashews, pecans, or peanuts (technically a legume) on top of low-fat or fat-free yogurt or oatmeal.  Chia seeds provide 3 percent (0.5 mg) of the daily value of zinc per tablespoon.

(7) Whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and zinc.  Just ½ cup of cooked steel-cut oats provides 6 percent (0.9 mg) of the daily value of zinc, while the same amount of cooked brown rice has 4 percent (0.6 mg), and a slice of whole wheat bread contains 3 percent (0.5 mg). Another whole grain packed with zinc is quinoa.

(8) Breakfast cereals are fortified with a number of vitamins and minerals, including zinc.  One serving provides about 25 percent (3.8 mg) of the daily recommended amount of zinc. Check the nutrition facts label to see just how much zinc the cereal contains.

(9) Milk and yogurt are not only rich sources of calcium, but are also nutritious sources of zinc.  A 1-cup serving of fat-free or low-fat milk contains 7 percent (1 mg) of the daily value of zinc, while one cup of fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt provides 15 percent (2.2 mg). Add fat-free or low-fat milk to cereal, oatmeal, and smoothies, and try yogurt topped with granola and fresh fruit.

(10) Dark chocolate (the darker, the better) contains zinc:  60-69 percent cacao varieties contain about 5 percent (0.8 mg) of the recommended daily value per ounce, while 70-85 percent cacao varieties contain about 6 percent (0.9 mg). While dark chocolate may be your favorite source of zinc, to keep calories and sugar in check, stick to a one-ounce serving per day.


Even though our bodies do not need huge amounts of zinc, it is good to be mindful that we get it everyday by making healthy, nutritious choices with the foods we eat.


As always, be well!


Sherry Jenko, NDTR, Group Lifestyle Balance Coach