Zinc (Zn) is an important mineral that you need in a small amount every day for good health.
The NIH – National Institute of Health says that adult males should be getting 11 mg of Zn each day and adult females need 8 mg.
This mineral helps your body to use protein, carbohydrates, and fat, helps heal wounds, and strengthens the immune system. Zinc also helps the cells in your body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter.
It is also involved with triggering over 100 distinct internal enzymes required for many metabolic actions.
There is no laboratory test for mild Zn deficiency. Instead, health professionals must consider different factors, including diet and deficiency symptoms
Symptoms of Zn deficiency include – delayed sexual maturation, hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions.
Note – phytic acid is the main known inhibitor of zinc.
The best way to improve your Zn intake is to incorporate foods rich in this mineral in your daily diet.
Top 10 Plant-Based Foods Highest In Zinc:
#1 Wheat germ
An excellent additive to sprinkle on your salad, wheat germ offers 17 mg of Zn per 100g serving.
Choose toasted over raw wheat germ, packed in jars. Moreover, wheat germ is a nutrient-rich food, acting as an important source of some of the B-complex vitamins and other minerals, such as – iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and selenium.
They are rich in complex carbs, offering an array of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. A cup of baked beans provides 5.8 mg of Zn. Eating beans on a regular basis may lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes Mellitus, some types of cancers, and are useful for a healthy weight loss.
According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications, for women of child-bearing age, eating more iron from plant foods, like – beans, spinach, pumpkin appears to promote fertility.
Brown rice is a healthier choice than white rice for most people due to brown rice’s higher fiber, zinc, and magnesium content. Each 1-cup serving of brown rice contains 1.21 mg of Zn.
Furthermore, latest research has established that eating brown rice may lower the risk of developing heart problems as well as diabetes. Besides all these benefits, consuming brown rice provides essential fatty acids, that are crucial for maintaining good health.
They are low in calories, bad cholesterol (LDL) free, fat-free, and have very low levels of salt (sodium) and sugar. In addition, they provide a valuable source of dietary fiber, as well as several minerals and vitamins. 100g of mushrooms provide 1.33 mg of Zn.
The nutritional value of spinach indicates it to be a very nutrient-dense food. It is low in calories yet very high in minerals, vitamins, and other phytonutrients. A cup of cooked spinach provides 1.4 mg of Zn.
Additionally, the high content of carotenoids found in spinach provides a good protection against eye diseases, like – macular degeneration and cataracts. According to researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, consuming spinach weekly can lower the risk of skin cancer.
#6 Watermelon Seeds
These seeds are rich in protein and some important minerals. Although watermelon seeds are also relatively high in fat, the fatty acids are largely unsaturated. Two tablespoons of shelled dry watermelon seeds contain 1.4 mg of Zn.
More importantly, these seeds are good sources of magnesium, an essential mineral, with 100 grams of seeds providing 139% percent of the DV.
#7 Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a source of this mineral, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consumption of pumpkin seeds as a good way of obtaining this essential nutrient.
A 28g serving of pumpkin seeds contains as much as 2.9 mg of Zn.
Like other legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans, chickpeas are prized for their high dietary fiber and protein content, and also contain several crucial minerals and vitamins known to benefit human health.
Just one cup of cooked chickpeas (164 grams) provides about 17 percent of the Daily Value for Zn.
Adding onions or garlic to grains increase the absorption of Zn and iron. 100 grams of garlic provides 1.16 mg of Zn.
Walnuts belong to the family Juglandaceae, along with hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, and pine nuts.
Each has its own unique nutritional profile. One cup of chopped walnuts provides you with around 28 percent of the recommended daily intake of Zn.