Zinc is an essential mineral required for the proper functioning of more than 300 enzymes in the body. It keeps the immune system strong, creates DNA, supports our sense of smell, builds proteins and triggers the release of enzymes. Zinc also helps body cells communicate effectively with each other by acting as a neurotransmitter. The recommended daily intake for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for adult men. Even though it can be found in a wide variety of foods, it is easier to be zinc deficient than you think. Here are 8 zinc-rich foods that you must include in your diet to remain healthy.
Dairy products like milk and cheese are excellent sources of numerous nutrients and minerals including zinc. 1 cup of full-cream milk contains 9% of the DV while 100 grams of cheddar cheese provides a whopping 28%. Most of the zinc content in milk and cheese can be easily absorbed by the body. Milk and cheese can be used to make many dishes and are easy to include in the diet.
A variety of legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans contain ample amounts of zinc. 100 grams of cooked lentils can give you 12% of the daily value (DV). The presence of phytates in the legumes, however, stop zinc from being properly absorbed in the body. Legumes are still a prominent source of zinc for people following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Spouting, heating, fermenting or soaking the plant-based zinc sources can promote its effects in the body.
Many nuts such as cashews, pine nuts, almonds, peanuts etc. are loaded with zinc and can help you increase your intake. Cashews have the most zinc content among nuts and one serving of 28 grams can give you 15% of the DV. Owing to the burst of other nutrients they hold, nuts can be a healthy snack, thus helping you boost your zinc intake.
Dark chocolate can provide some zinc when you are also looking to treat yourself. 100 grams of 70-85% dark chocolate holds 3.3 mg of zinc, which is 30% of the DV. Since dark chocolates are high in calories (100 grams contains 600 calories), you might just want to consider it as an occasional zinc-rich treat instead of relying upon it as a habitual source.
Seeds like hemp, pumpkin, squash and sesame can give a decent hike to your daily zinc intake. Men get 31% and women get 43% of their daily recommended intake of zinc from 3 tbsp of hemp seeds. Seeds are crunchy and versatile, so you can easily incorporate them in your diet by adding them to your soups, stews, salads etc.