Health Nutrition & Diet 8 Foods High in Zinc, a Mineral That Boosts Immunity, Metabolism, and More Skip the supplements and look in your pantry for these zinc-filled foods. By Seraphina Seow Seraphina Seow Seraphina is a health writer with a background as a registered dietitian. Real Simple's Editorial Guidelines Updated on February 13, 2023 Fact checked by Isaac Winter Fact checked by Isaac Winter Isaac Winter is a fact-checker and writer for Real Simple, ensuring the accuracy of content published by rigorously researching content before publication and periodically when content needs to be updated. Highlights: Helped establish a food pantry in West Garfield Park as an AmeriCorps employee at Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center. Interviewed Heartland Alliance employees for oral history project conducted by the Lake Forest College History Department. Editorial Head of Lake Forest College's literary magazine, Tusitala, for two years. Our Fact-Checking Process Share Tweet Pin Email Many of your important body processes require zinc. This essential mineral is needed for DNA synthesis, wound healing, blood clotting, immunity, metabolism, and growth. Your ability to taste and smell also relies on zinc. Read on to learn what zinc is, why we need to be eating foods with zinc, and how you can get more of it in your diet. What Is Zinc and How Much Do We Need? Zinc is an essential mineral, which means that the body has to obtain it from our diet because it cannot manufacture it, explains Amandeep Kalsi, RD, MPH, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles. When you consume the recommended daily amount of zinc, all the body functions mentioned above are able to work at their best. The Daily Value (DV) is 8 milligrams of zinc, increasing to 11 milligrams for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers because "you need it for yourself and to develop the fetus," Kalsi says. Zinc is a trace mineral, so our body only requires small amounts. That also means zinc deficiency is rare, especially if you're eating a variety of foods, says Janice Chow, RD, registered dietitian and founder of nutrition counseling service The Mindful Chow. But vegetarians, pregnant women, people with digestive disorders like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, or those with chronic alcohol misuse are at higher risk for having inadequate zinc intakes. Individuals in these categories would need to tap into the food sources richest in zinc and might sometimes require a zinc supplement. The 10 Best Iron-Rich Foods RDs Say You Should Eat More Of Top Foods That Are High in Zinc Here are eight of the best zinc food sources, according to Kalsi and Chow. Kalsi points out that the body the most easily absorbs animal protein sources of zinc, but you can definitely achieve the DV by eating only plant-based sources of zinc. As much as possible, Kalsi recommends including protein-rich foods in the same meal as a zinc-rich food to ensure better absorption. 01 of 08 Red Meat Victor Protasio If you eat meat, beef is a clear winner when it comes to zinc-rich foods. A 3-ounce serving provides 5.2 milligrams of zinc, which is nearly half the DV. A pork loin chop provides a lesser amount but is still a good source at 1.9 milligrams, which is nearly 20 percent of the DV. Get the recipe 02 of 08 Poultry Greg Dupree Darker meat, like thighs, provides more zinc than white chicken breast meat. There are 2.4 milligrams of zinc in cooked chicken thighs (22 percent of the DV) and 2.6 milligrams in cooked turkey thighs (24 percent of the DV). Get the recipe 3 Key Macronutrients to Eat Every Day (and How They Differ From Micronutrients) 03 of 08 Tofu Caitlin Bensel Besides being a trusty plant-based protein source, tofu also offers zinc. A 3.5-ounce serving of firm tofu has 1.1 milligrams, nearly 10 percent of the DV. Get the recipe 04 of 08 Nuts and Seeds John Kernick A sprinkle of pumpkin, sunflower, or hemp seeds over your breakfast porridge or a handful of cashews as a snack provides you with a good amount of zinc. In a 1-ounce serving, pumpkin seeds contain 2.2 milligrams (20 percent of the DV), and cashews contain 1.6 milligrams of zinc (15 percent of the DV). A 3.5-ounce serving of sunflower seeds contains 5 milligrams (45 percent of the DV), and a 3-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains 3 milligrams of zinc (27 percent of the DV). Get the recipe Here's Why to Make Pecans Your New, Nutrient-Dense Nut of Choice 05 of 08 Beans and Legumes Caitlin Bensel A half cup of cooked lentils provides 1.3 milligrams of zinc, 12 percent of the DV; a half cup of cooked chickpeas also has 1.3 milligrams or 12 percent of the DV. Edamame, green soybeans, are also a zinc-rich snack, with 1.1 milligrams or 10 percent of the DV. Get the recipe 06 of 08 Yogurt, Milk, and Cheeses Victor Protasio These dairy foods offer zinc as well as calcium. There's 1 milligram or 9 percent of the DV in a 6-ounce tub of yogurt. An ounce of Swiss cheese contains 1.2 milligrams (11 percent of the DV); a cup of cow's milk contains 1 milligram (9 percent of the DV). Get the recipe 07 of 08 Whole Grains Greg DuPree One cup of cooked oatmeal has 2.3 milligrams, 21 percent of the DV, while brown rice offers 1.4 milligrams or 13 percent of the DV. Get the recipe 08 of 08 Certain Veggies Greg Dupree While vegetables aren't the all-time richest sources of zinc, some provide a higher amount than others. Your best bet? In half a cup, shiitake mushrooms provide 1 milligram or 9 percent of the DV, and green peas have 0.9 milligrams or 8 percent of the DV. Get the recipe 10 of the Most Nutrient-Dense Foods That Won't Break the Bank Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. USDA FoodData Central. Beef, ground, unspecified fat content, cooked. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. NIH. Zinc: fact sheet for health professionals. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Turkey, retail parts, thigh, meat and skin, cooked, roasted. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Chicken, broilers or fryers, thigh, meat and skin, cooked roasted. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Tofu, extra firm, prepared with nigari. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Nuts, cashew nuts, raw. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Seeds, hemp seed, hulled. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dried. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, with salt. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Edamame, cooked. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central database. Cheese, swiss. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Peas, green, raw. Date Accessed December 20, 2022. USDA FoodData Central. Mushrooms, shiitake, cooked, with salt. Date Accessed December 20, 2022.