26 Foods High in Zinc for Overall Good Health

This Evidence Based article was written by

26 Foods High in Zinc- for overall good health.


Why do we need zinc in the body?
How much zinc do I need?
How do I know if I am getting enough zinc?
What are the benefits of zinc in the body?
List of Zinc Rich Foods

Zinc is an important mineral for the body, and a deficiency can result in hair loss and diarrhea. The National Institute of Health says that the average adult male should be getting 11 milligrams of zinc each day, and adult females need 8 milligrams daily. It’s important to keep in mind that this is cumulative throughout the day, so you shouldn’t try to meet that requirement in one sitting, or with one food. The list of foods below will help give you an idea of how you can incorporate different foods into your diet that will help you meet your zinc needs.

Why do we need zinc in the body?

Although minerals are not needed in amounts that are as high as vitamins, they still play an important role in keeping you healthy. Zinc is a mineral that is needed in every cell in your body. It’s especially helpful for keeping your immune system healthy and properly functioning by fighting off bacteria and viruses that make you sick. Zinc is also needed for the production of DNA and protein. It plays an important role in the proper development and growth of infants. Lastly, zinc is needed to help heal wounds and keep your sense of taste and smell working at their best.

Research shows that zinc may be able to help you get through the common cold. According to one study, taking at least 75 mg of zinc within 24 hours of the onset of a cold reduces the symptoms of the cold in healthy people. Another study found that taking zinc lozenges reduced the duration of the common cold by 33 percent. One study even found that supplementing with zinc can help increase free testosterone in the body, which plays an important role in men’s health. Even women need to make sure they maintain their testosterone levels to keep their strength up.

How much zinc do I need?

 Your zinc needs vary depending on your age and gender. Research shows that the following chart should be used as a guideline for zinc intake:

People TypeDosageAge
infants2 mgbirth to six months
infants3 mg7 months to 3 years
children5 mgfour to eight years
children8 mgnine to 11 years
teenage females11 mg14 to 18 years
teenage boys9 mg14 to 18 years
adult men11 mg19 and above
adult women8 mg19 and above
pregnant teenage females12 mg14 to 18 years
pregnant women11 mg19 and above
breastfeeding teenager females13 mg19 and above
breastfeeding women12 mg19 and above


How do I know if I am getting enough zinc?

 Zinc is found in many foods that people in the United States commonly eat, such as beans, nuts, breakfast cereals, dairy products, meats, and grains. For this reason, it’s unlikely that most people have a zinc deficiency.

Not getting enough zinc may contribute to slow growth in children and infants. It can also lead to delayed sexual development in teens as well as sexual dysfunction in adult men. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, diarrhea, skin or eye sores, and hair loss. If you don’t get enough zinc, you may also experience weight loss, trouble healing wounds, a reduced level of alertness, and problems tasting food.

Keep in mind that some of these symptoms can be due to conditions other than a zinc deficiency, so it’s always best to contact your doctor to check your zinc levels if you think you’re not getting enough. People who are at an increased risk of developing a zinc deficiency include those with a gastrointestinal disorder, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. This is because digestive disorders can impact the amount of zinc (as well as other nutrients) that you absorb in your small intestine.

Vegetarians or people who do not eat a lot of meat are also at an increased risk of developing a zinc deficiency. This can be managed by incorporating more beans and grains in your diet. Drinking too much alcohol can also affect the body’s ability to absorb zinc.

What are the benefits of zinc on the body?

 As mentioned above, zinc is needed in every cell of your body. This means that your cells and your body could not function without it. Specifically, zinc is needed to fuel the activity of over 100 different enzymes, which are messengers that carry out chemical reactions within the body. Zinc also boosts your immune system by activating T lymphocytes cells, which are needed to attack dangerous or cancerous cells in the body. Some research even shows that zinc plays a role in how neurons communicate with each other, which affects our memories and how we learn new things.

One study found that zinc was beneficial for treating diarrhea. Researchers of the study indicated that taking a zinc pill for ten days effectively treated the condition and reduced the risk of future outbreaks from reoccurring. Topical zinc can be used to help treat wounds. This is because zinc plays a role in maintaining skin’s structure. One study found that topical applications of zinc to the skin promote wound healing by decreasing inflammation and bacterial growth. Additional research supports using zinc to also help treat acne through reduction of bacteria growth and inflammation.


1. Spinach

Spinach may not be the food with the most zinc in it, but it holds its own considering that it’s a plant source. It’s just one of the many vitamins and minerals that spinach is known for, and one more reason to eat it more often. Having a salad with spinach as the base is an easy way to start getting more zinc into your diet, especially when you top that salad with other foods that contain zinc. One cup of cooked spinach contains 1.37 mg of zinc, which is about 12 percent of your daily recommended value.

2. Beef

Beef is a great way to increase your zinc levels because it contains so much of it in a very little serving. Some other foods on this list may have more zinc, but it’s unlikely that you would eat very much of that food in one sitting, like pumpkin seeds. Research shows that a three-ounce serving of braised chuck roast beef contains seven mg of zinc, which is 47 percent of your daily recommended intake.

3. Shrimp

Shrimp serves as a good food for zinc intake, and also provides other benefits like being a high quality protein, and being low in calories. They are also a surprising source of antioxidants. Usually, it’s fruits and vegetables that get mentioned in a discussion of antioxidants, but shrimp have a pretty good sized dose of an antioxidant called astaxanthin that helps fight inflammation in the body, which can provide relief to anyone suffering from an inflammatory condition. Four ounces of shrimp contains 1.85 mg of zinc, which is about 17 percent of your daily recommended intake.

4. Kidney beans

Kidney beans are a great plant-based source of zinc, which is good news for vegans and vegetarians looking to get their zinc requirements met. These beans are also helpful in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, providing long-lasting energy, and keeping you feeling full for long periods without a subsequent crash. They can be eaten as a side dish by themselves or added to any entree to boost fiber intake and add additional protein. A one-half cup serving of cooked kidney beans contains 0.9 mg of zinc, or 6 percent of your daily recommended intake.

flax seeds

5. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds get a lot of attention because of their omega-3 and fiber content, but they are also a good source of zinc. Keep in mind that this is one food that you won’t be eating a mouthful at a time, but it can be used as part of a zinc-conscious eating plan to get your total numbers up. They can be sprinkled on just about anything for added nutrition. Try pouring some into soups and smoothies and you won’t even know it’s there. A one-half cup serving of whole flaxseeds contains 3.65 mg of zinc, or 24.5 percent of your daily recommended value.

6. Pumpkin Seeds

Chances are you’re not eating enough pumpkin seeds. If you save these as an annual October treat only, then it’s time to start getting them into your system throughout the year. They’re not only remarkably high in zinc, but they provide other benefits to the body like vitamin E, omega-3s, and keeping your blood sugar levels looking good. They also help reduce inflammation, thanks to their high antioxidant properties. A one-quarter cup serving of pumpkin seeds contains 2.52 mg of zinc, or 23 percent of your daily recommended intake.

7. Oysters

A three-ounce serving size of cooked oysters contains a whopping 74 mg of zinc, which is about 493 percent of your daily recommended intake. So you could eat oysters once a week or so in addition to other foods on this list to make sure you’re getting your zinc needs covered without worrying about taking a supplement.

8. Watermelon seeds

Here’s a seed that often gets spit out, and many times doesn’t even show up because the watermelon is seedless. But if you dry watermelon seeds, and even toast them, they can be a wonderful source of zinc, as well as other good things for the body, like protein, magnesium, healthy fats, and a host of B vitamins. This makes them a great snack to consider, since most of us are not in the habit of eating them. You’ll get 10 mg of zinc for every 100 gram serving of watermelon seeds.


9. Garlic

Garlic has a long list of health benefits, not the least of which is that it provides a respectable amount of zinc. Granted, it’s not going to be able to take a big chunk out of your zinc requirements for the day when used in cooking, but it can contribute and add to the day’s total. Garlic also has cleansing properties, and has long been linked to anti-cancer effects and a healthier heart. One ounce of garlic contains 0.3 mg of zinc, or two percent of your daily needs. That’s not a lot, but it adds up if you eat garlic every day!

10. Lima Beans

Mom says to eat your lima beans! Turns out she was onto something, and lima beans put up pretty good numbers in the zinc column. Remember not to go overboard with any one food, and shoot for a variety of different foods to meet your needs. Lima beans help the body in a number of ways including adding more fiber, protein, folate, iron and magnesium to your diet. A one-cup serving of lima beans contains 1.79 mg of zinc or 16 percent of your daily recommended value.

11. Peanuts

Peanuts can be used as a snack to hold you over between meals, and they also provide plenty of zinc to help the cause. Consider eating peanut butter if you don’t like the crunchiness of whole peanuts. If you buy an organic variety the only ingredient should be organic peanuts, and therefore it’s just like eating it in whole form, but you don’t have the crunch unless you buy the crunchy version. One ounce of peanuts contains 1 mg of zinc or 7 percent of the daily recommended intake.

12. Egg Yolks

The yolks of eggs specifically are a good source of zinc. The whites, not so much, which is why you’re missing out on a lot if you only opt for egg whites. Egg yolks contain all of the vitamins that are in an egg as well, so by eating the yolk you may be getting more fat but you’re also getting vitamins A, E, D and K, as well as additional amounts of minerals, which more than make up for any potential drawbacks. A one-cup serving of egg yolks contains 5.6 mg of zinc or 37 percent of your daily recommended intake.


13. Turkey

Turkey doesn’t show up quite as much as chicken and is typically reserved for sandwiches throughout the year, and in whole form during the holiday. But no matter how you consume it, or how often, it’s going to provide you with a good zinc dose without piling on the fat and calories. Opt for roasted turkey breast and avoid the extra sodium and nitrates that cold cuts contain. A four-ounce serving of turkey contains 1.95 mg of zinc, or 18 percent of your daily recommended value.

14. Salmon

Salmon often ranks on lists of the healthiest foods you can eat, and for good reason. It’s high in omega-3s and is an excellent source of protein, which is why it can help out dieters across a wide range of different diet strategies. It may not be a zinc powerhouse like some of the other foods listed here, but it can serve to help add to your total daily intake, which is the overall goal. Four ounces of wild Coho salmon contains 0.64 mg of zinc or six percent of your daily recommended intake.

15. Lobster

Lobster may only get eaten on special occasions because of its priciness, but when you do eat it you’re getting a big boost of zinc without a lot of calories being added to the bottom line. Of course, lobster often gets dunked in melted butter, but that butter should be clarified making it ghee, a healthier form of butter that is free of the impurities that ordinary butter contains. Three ounces of cooked lobster contains 3.4 mg of zinc or 23 percent of your daily recommended intake.

16. Pork

A three ounce serving of pork chop contains 2.9 mg of zinc or 19 percent of your daily recommended intake. Look for pork that is organic and raised without the use of antibiotcs or hormones to avoided exposure to added chemicals.

dark chocolate and zinc

17. Dark Chocolate

As if you needed any additional reasons to eat chocolate, here’s one more. You’re getting quite a bit of zinc in chocolate, and if you keep it raw, you’re also getting a good source of antioxidants. Research shows that a 100 gram serving of unsweetened dark chocolate contains as much as 9.6 mg of zinc while cocoa powder has 6.8 mg.

18. Chickpeas

These might also be labeled garbanzo beans in the store, but it’s still the same thing. These are what is used in hummus, and is pretty much a staple in vegetarian cuisine because of its many healthy properties. Zinc would have to be one of them. You’re getting a good amount of it here, while keeping your calories down, and getting extra fiber, as well as protein. It’s a very well-rounded food that can help you feel full and give you additional vitamins and minerals. A one-half cup serving of cooked chickpeas contains 1.3 mg of zinc or nine percent of the daily recommended value.

19. Beef Liver

Beef liver gets it’s own spot on our list because it is so different than ordinary beef. It ranks higher in several categories than beef does, including having slightly higher levels of zinc. But it doesn’t stop there. It outdoes beef as well as a many foods typically thought of as being healthy in many things like potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin B-12. It may be harder to find than ordinary beef, but it’s worth seeking out. A 100-gram serving of beef liver contains 4.25 mg of zinc or 38 percent of the recommended daily intake.

20. Brown Rice

Brown rice is always a good substitute for white rice, because it has a lower Glycemic Index score, has more potassium, more magnesium, more selenium, and fewer carbohydrates. We’ve seen higher zinc counts in other foods, but the likelihood of eating a 100 gram serving of brown rice is pretty doable. That’s why it makes a great side to any meat dish, and can also be incorporated into thousands of recipes in place of white rice. A one-cup serving of brown rice contains 1.21 mg of zinc or 15 percent of the daily recommended intake.


21. Peas

Peas are one of those quintessential side dishes, and it’s pretty clear why. They taste good and provide a wide range of benefits like staving off cancer, providing energy, helping with anti-aging, and helping to regulate blood glucose levels. Turns out they’re also not too shabby in zinc content, and while they don’t provide a big chunk they can serve as a top contributor along with other foods found on this page. A one-half cup serving of cooked frozen peas contains 0.5 mg of zinc or three percent of the daily recommended intake.

22. Sesame Seeds

If the only time you think about sesame seeds is when they’re on a sesame seed bun, it’s time to re-introduce yourself to them. They’re packed with zinc, and while you likely won’t be eating large quantities of them, they can basically be sprinkled on just about any dish to add instant nutrition. Not only are they high in zinc, but they’re loaded with healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Those are the good fats that your body needs in order to keep your heart healthy. A one-quarter cup serving of sesame seeds contains 2.79 mg of zinc or 25 percent of the daily recommended value.

23. Lamb

Lamb often gets overlooked on the meat scene because of its higher fat content, but in some countries around the world it is just as popular as beef. The zinc it contains is reason enough to start adding it to your menu rotation, and you can opt for cuts of lamb that are a bit leaner than others. Ask your butcher for lean cuts, or simply pick out ones that have less visible fat at the store. And also choose organic, grass-fed, and antibiotic free.  Four ounces of grass-fed lamb contains 3.87 mg of zinc or 35 percent of the daily recommended intake.

24. Cashews

These healthy nuts are sometimes avoided because of their high fat content. But much of their fat content is monounsaturated, a healthy fat. The zinc content in cashews is another reason to use this as a healthy snack that can tide you over between meals, or be used in a recipe to enhance flavor, replace dairy products in a vegan recipe, or add a bit of buttery crunchiness. A one-ounce serving of dry roasted cashews contains 1.6 mg of zinc or 11 percent of the daily recommended value.


25. Crab

If love to eat crab legs, there’s good news. It’s relatively high in zinc and can help you meet your daily needs in this area. Crab is also a good source of protein, and doesn’t weigh you down with a lot of calories. It’s very low in fat, but you’ll want to watch out for the sodium levels, which can run rather high, leading to water retention and an increase in blood pressure. Three ounces of cooked Alaskan king crab contains 6.5 mg of zinc or 43 percent of the daily recommended value.

26. Mushrooms

Regardless of which mushrooms you go with, there will likely be a good amount of zinc in them. Mushrooms are a great add-on to any meal, and they can flavor up a pizza or simply be cooked up and eaten as a side dish. They have a healthy assortment of vitamins and minerals, and several types of mushrooms have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits. A one-half cup serving of shiitake mushrooms contains 0.96 mg of zinc or nine percent of the daily recommended value while a one-cup serving of crimini mushrooms has 0.79 mg of zinc or seven percent of the daily recommended intake.

As you can see, it’s relatively easy to get enough zinc, and perhaps you already eat some of these foods on a regular basis. Being deficient in zinc for long periods of time can yield serious health concerns, so it’s best to visit your doctor and get tested to see where you fall on your zinc levels, as well as all of the other important vitamins and minerals. They’ll be able to identify what you need more of, and can consult with you further on the best way to get more of what you need.

Users Comments:

  • Pholoana Joshua Mothekhe

    Thank you very much this was a very good stuff that enhance one’s knowledge.

  • George James

    Healthy eating for all around choice . I love to see what can make a difference in my everyday life so I can share with my wife some healthy habits . Something to grow on for a healthy tomorrow . Thank you for this program .

  • RUBY

    Your website is great and information easy to understand.
    I have been looking for info on eating “real butter”. I would appreciate your input.

    Thank you very much.

  • archana

    Keep shayering great information.

  • Ezekiel Akwanah

    Very informative …I always say lots of our people suffer for lack of basic knowledge. Its high time we observe our diets with keen or else we shall pay dearly in future.
    I hv learnt to analyse everthing I eat and alway learning new things everyday esp on home remedies.

  • ZincDeficient

    Why do zinc amounts differ so greatly from one nutrition site to another? On nutritiondata.self for instance, 100 grams of Shiitake Mushrooms gives you 1.3mg, but here it says 7.66mg.

    • LoverNottaFighter

      Its because on the nutrition.self website, you have to change the serving size in the drop down box to 100 grams. because by default its set to 4 grams. You also got that wrong, because at 4 grams its actually “0.3mg” not 1.3mg of Zinc. When you change the serving size to 100mg, you will see that t is 7.7mg of Zinc, which isn’t far off at the 7.66mg that this website suggests.

  • Healthsomeness

    This is a great resource for foods high in zinc! Some other foods that are also rich in zinc include:

    Pine nuts (6.45mg / 100g),
    Adzuki beans (5.04 mg / 100g),
    Chia seeds (4.58 mg / 100g),
    Pecans (4.53 mg / 100g),
    Brazil nuts (4.06 mg / 100g),
    Oats (3.97 mg / 100g),
    Almonds (3.12 mg / 100g),
    Quinoa (3.1 mg / 100g)

    Having a varied diet means you will be able to get zinc from a lot of different sources, therefore preventing you from becoming deficient!

  • flash

    WHEAT GERM is the best and very rich ZINC container among all you mentioned here

  • Rebecca

    Nice list thank you!!

  • Luni

    Very useful information. Thank you very much.
    And yes, zinc is very important for our health. For example, according to Tassabehji et al, deficiency in zinc inhibits hyppocampal neurogenesis and induces depression, while supplementing diet with zinc may help improve symptoms of depression, probably because zinc plays an important role in regulating molecular mechanisms of neural precursor cell survival and proliferation.

  • deva

    Thanks for your information.It is so helpfull!!!

  • Terence

    Thanks so
    much for this useful information, because good information brings good transformations.

  • Jill

    If you take a zinc supplement do you have a re commendation?

  • Salisu

    This is very useful to all especially 40 yearss and above. Any newsletter on this subject?

    • Ed

      As Salisu mentioned this is definitely important especially for women over 40yrs who have stressful lives and need help in increasing testosterone levels. I recently interviewed hormone expert Dr Tami Meraglia on this subject if you’re searching for further info.

  • Uyanda

    Thanks for that I’m lacking zinc also.

  • Jodi

    Thanks for making this list so cut and dried. I hate having to hit next. Next. Next. Just scrolling down is wonderful. A lot of good foods on here, wonderful to see how many we already incorporate into our diet. I recently read that zinc and calcium are important for growth in children. Strongly believe that if you want a vitamin, eats vitamin rich foods, and leave the multi-vitamin on the shelf.

  • Steve G

    I was going through this list giving myself a standing ovation of each item I stopped at which I already eat almost daily.. I got 12 out of the 26 which is not bad at all I don’t think.. And there was me googling zinc because I thought I wasn’t getting any :p

  • JE

    Dumb article bro. Ideal zinc to copper ratio is between 8:1 and 12:1. How you fail to mention this, or the terribly high levels of cholesterol in shellfish, is baffling. I am guessing you have a six-pack, but please Stop pretending to know what you are talking about.

  • shyam aneja

    Multipurpose informations for human health saving and improving.Thanks


    Very informative site . Keep up the good work


    Unlike most who check this website i actually too high on zinc rather than having a zinc deficiency, this really helped me find out what i was eating too muck of.

  • Lester Barclay

    According to this zinc deficiency is the number one health disorder in the USA causing a polerera of mental problems ! Zinc is absolutely nessary to convert iron from diet into hemoglobin for oxygen from the lungs ! This absence of zinc in diet is a set up for cancer !

  • at jags

    Very nice i am suffering from HSV-1 in mouth and chest ..this helped a lot

  • Lynda

    Thank you. This information was very helpful.

  • Louise

    Very useful information. Presently dealing with an open wound due to Venus insuffiency. What do u think is profitable? Eating foods with zinc or taking zinc picolinate supplements to somewhat strengthen vein walls. Thank you.

  • Sarah

    Hi, this is helpful, but it is a bit misleading to list zinc per 100 grams. We don’t eat 500 calories of pumpkin seeds at a time (at least most people don’t!) Could you rework your numbers so that you profile your top foods by nutrient density? For example, for 100 calories of spinach or 100 calories of walnut seeds, how many milligrams of zinc can we expect? That is a more relevant way to compare them. Given that we have a limited number of calories to spend each day, most of us would benefit from knowing the most nutrient dense sources.

  • dana

    really, why can’t people who write articles or who comment use measurements we are all familiar with. like instead of 100g of shrimp, how about “approx. 4 shrimp”. even use cup measurements–ie. approx. 1/2 cup. I don’t know ANYONE who says I ate 100g of shrimp or nuts today.

  • Solomon

    I vowed never to use any artificial sex/erection enhancers for as long as my age can carry. Now, at my middle age , I see most guys take herbs and other sexual substances and it makes me feel the need to know more about the food alternative to it giving my vow.

    Thank you for your supportive page here. Nice information.

  • jmwangi

    really educative and interesting too i liked it

  • Moresort Onsongo

    Really interesting and informative suggestive reading and food for thought to turn around your bedroom schemes

  • ya mum

    thank you this was really informative for my zinc research in school xxx

  • kisia abok

    write quantity of food in SI unites and the amount of zinc content

  • Francis donny

    I appreciate for the information given so far because it was very informative to my health now. But i still need more info concerning about waist and pile cure. Thank very much

  • Jake

    100 grams of garlic? Are you crazy? Who eats 100 grams of garlic? People won’t get within 100 m of you cause of your stinking breath. I find 2 small cloves of garlic as the limit .

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