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Top 10 Foods Highest in Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining a sense of smell, keeping a healthy immune system, building proteins, triggering enzymes, and creating DNA. Zinc also helps the cells in your body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter. A deficiency in zinc can lead to stunted growth, diarrhea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, and depressed immunity. Conversely, consuming too much zinc can disrupt absorption of copper and iron, as well as create large amounts of toxic free radicals. The current RDA for Zinc is 15mg. Below is a list of the top ten foods highest in Zinc.


#1: Oysters

Depending on type and variety oysters provide 16-182mg of zinc per 100g serving. This accounts for 110%-1200% of the RDA for zinc. The food highest in zinc is The Steamed Wild Eastern Oyster which provides 182 mg of zinc per 100g serving, or 76mg (509% RDA) in 6 oysters, and 154mg (1029% RDA) in a 3 ounce serving.

#2: Toasted Wheat Germ

Packed in jars and sold toasted, wheat germ is great to sprinkle on top of any food. Try it on salads, rice, or steamed vegetables. Toasted wheat germ provides 17mg (112% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving, which is 19mg (126% RDA) per cup, and 1.2mg (8% RDA) in a single tablespoon. Crude (untoasted) wheat germ provides 12mg (82% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving, 14mg (94% RDA) per cup, and 1mg (6% RDA) per tablepsoon.

#3: Veal Liver

The liver of any animal is packed with vitamins and minerals and most commonly served as p?t? or liverwurst. Veal liver has the most zinc with 12mg per 100g serving accounting for 81% of the RDA, that is 8.98mg of zinc (60% RDA) in a cooked slice of liver (80g). Liver is best prepared steamed or fried with onions and herbs.

#4: Sesame Seeds and Tahini

Sesame products contain about 10mg of Zinc per 100g serving (70% RDA). Sesame flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in cakes and breads. Tahini is commonly found in hummus (a ground chickpea spread and dip of the Middle East) it will provide 4.6mg (31% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving, 0.7mg (5% RDA) per tablespoon. Whole sesame seeds provide 7.8mg/100g (52% RDA), 11mg (74% RDA) per cup, and 0.7mg (5% RDA) per tablespoon.

#5: Low Fat Roast Beef

Low fat beef shoulder, shank, and chuck all contain about 10mg (70% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving, 18mg (119% RDA) per pound, and 9mg (59% RDA) in a 3 oz serving. If you buy pre-processed roast beef be sure to consult the nutrition facts about the cut and nutrients. Not all nutrition labels report zinc, so don’t worry if you don’t see it.

#6: Roasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

A popular food in the Middle East and East Asia pumpkin and squash seeds contain about 10mg (70% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving, 6.6mg (59% RDA) per cup, and 3mg (19% RDA) per ounce (~85 seeds). If you can’t find these in your local supermarket you will surely find them in Middle Eastern or East Asian specialty stores. Alternatively, you can also save any pumpkin and squash seeds you have and roast them in your oven. The seeds are typically eaten by cracking the outer shell and eating the seed inside.

#7: Dried Watermelon Seeds

Much like the pumpkin and squash, watermelon seeds are popular in the Middle East and East Asia and they should be in specialty stores catering to those cultures. It is also possible to just eat the seeds raw with the watermelon. You can shell them, or just chew them up whole. Dried watermelon seeds provide 10mg (70% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving, 11mg (74 %RDA) per cup, and 3mg (19% RDA) per ounce.

#8: Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Chocolate is showing more and more health benefits and dark chocolate is coming into vogue. Unsweetened baking chocolate provides 9.6mg (64% RDA) of zinc per 100g serving (most bars are 50-100 grams). Cocoa powder will provide 6.8mg (45% RDA) per 100g, or 5.4mg (39% RDA) per cup, 0.3mg (2% RDA) per tablespoon. Most milk chocolates provide around 2.3mg (15% RDA) per 100g serving or 1mg (7% RDA) per bar.

#9: Lamb

Lamb is a common meat in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and most of Europe, but is increasing in popularity in the Americas. Lamb provides between 4.2-8.7mg of zinc per 100g serving (28%-58% RDA) depending on cut. That is up to 7.4mg (49% RDA) in a 3 ounce serving (85 grams).

#10: Peanuts

Peanuts are a great source of zinc, 100 grams of oil roasted peanuts will provide 6.6mg (44% RDA) of zinc, or 8.8mg (59% RDA) in 1 cup chopped, 1.9mg (12% RDA) per oz (~39 peanuts). Dry roasted peanuts will provide half as much zinc at 3.3mg (22% RDA) per 100 gram serving, or 4.8mg (32% RDA) per cup, and 1mg (6% RDA) per oz.

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