Foods with Zinc for Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians

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fruits rich in zincFoods with zinc are critical components of a healthy body and mind. Zinc is an essential element that is key to good health and metabolism, so much so that even a small zinc deficiency can cause many problems including hair loss, eye and skin lesions, loss of appetite, slower wound healing, and a weakened immune system.

The libido also takes a hit when there is a deficiency because zinc helps with the production of testosterone. Taking a zinc supplement when battling the flu, a cold, or an infection can give your body the extra boost it needs to fight those illnesses.

The recommended dietary allowance of zinc is eight milligrams per day for women and 11 milligrams per day for men. When it comes to  foods with zinc, eating animal sources, vegetables, and fruits with zinc is a good way to get to those daily values required for optimal health.

Foods with Zinc for Vegetarians

Fruits Vegetables Dairy Products
Pomegranate Green beans Whey
Avocado Asparagus Powdered skim milk
Blackberries Brussels sprouts Swiss Emmental cheese
Loganberries Peas Cheddar cheese, reduced fat
Raspberries Spinach Eggs
Dates Lima beans Plain yogurt, 1% to 2% fat
Corn Hard goat cheese
Swiss chard

Vegetables with Zinc

Eating foods with zinc is important to a healthy body and mind. Some vegetables are good sources of zinc, but they usually don’t offer a great amount of the mineral. You’d have to eat quite a lot of these vegetables to get to the same level of zinc provided by meat sources. But any amount of zinc is good, and if you combine several food sources, the daily recommended amounts can be achieved. Vegetables that are good sources of zinc include:

  • Soybeans
  • Peas
  • Lima beans
  • Green beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin, including the seeds
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms

Fruits with Zinc

Overall, most fruits do provide some level of zinc, but there are only a few fruits that can be considered heavy hitters. Those fruits rich in zinc should be consumed more often, especially if you’re a vegetarian and are avoiding the zinc-rich sources found in meat and oysters. Zinc from fruits does not get absorbed easily because of the high phytic acid content in plant proteins.

  • Pomegranates are a fantastic source of zinc, and as a bonus, they’re fun to eat too—once you get the hang of it. You can add the seeds to salads or just eat them by the handful on their own.
  • Avocados (yes, the avocado is a fruit; it has a seed) offer a good source of zinc in one medium-sized fruit.
  • Other fruits that are good to eat for zinc include blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries. Loganberries aren’t common, but look around and you might be able to find them at a good market or produce store.
  • Dates are also a good source of zinc.

Dairy Products with Zinc

What about dairy foods with zinc? Dairy products are also good food products with zinc. Basically, eating any type of cheese, whether it’s from a cow, a goat or even a sheep, plus some kinds of yogurt, and whey products will deliver a decent amount of zinc, and again, when combined with other foods that are high in zinc, the amounts will add up to match the recommended dietary allowance. Below is a list of some dairy sources that are high in zinc, in order from highest to lowest.

  • Whey powder, dry
  • Powdered skim milk
  • Swiss Emmental cheese
  • Cheddar cheese, reduced fat
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt, 1% fat, plain
  • Yogurt, 2% to 4% fat, plain
  • Hard goat cheese

Foods with Zinc for Non-Vegetarians

Meat eaters, or non-vegetarians, have the easiest time at getting high levels of zinc into their diet because meat is, without a doubt, the best way to get zinc in one serving. Oysters are, by far, the most potent form and therefore the top food source for getting zinc into your diet. So if you can eat shellfish and enjoy it, then eating oysters is the best thing you can do where zinc is concerned.

The top  foods with zinc for non-vegetarians include:

  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Veal liver
  • Salmon
  • Lobster
  • Beef liver
  • Crab meat

Getting zinc into your diet, whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat-eater, is critical to good health. Our immune systems need zinc to properly defend against viruses and bacteria that can cause infection and illness. We need zinc so that cells can properly metabolize food.

To maximize your intake of foods with zinc–try eating foods from a variety of zinc sources so you not only benefit from the intake of zinc, but from all the other nutrients and minerals those foods will deliver to your body. Wonderful meals can be made from the foods listed above, so mix and match as much as possible. If you don’t eat meat, it will be harder and will take more consideration, but it can be done.

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“Fruits High in Zinc,” Livestrong web site;, last accessed March 10, 2016.
“Dairy Products and Eggs High in Zinc,” Foods-High-In web site;,1.html, last accessed March 10, 2016.
“Foods Highest in Zinc,” Self Nutrition Data web site;, last accessed March 10, 2016.
“26 Foods High in Zinc for Overall Good Health,” Bembu web site;, last accessed March 10, 2016.