20 Best Zinc Rich Foods to Include in Your Diet

Reviewed By Expert

zinc rich foods - livayur

Zinc is a vital and useful mineral that supports multiple physiological processes in the human body. It is involved in immune system function, protein synthesis, DNA repair, cell division, and wound healing. [1] It is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and is required for the proper functioning of many enzymes. Thus, it plays a crucial role in the metabolic hormone regulation of growth, among several other key functions of the body. [2] In Ayurveda, Rasaka or Kharpara, Yasada, and Puspanjana are zinc-containing minerals also used as therapeutic agents. They have a cooling nature (sheeta virya) and an astringent taste. They are particularly beneficial in treating imbalances related to Kapha and Pitta doshas in the body. [3] Obtaining an adequate amount of this mineral through our diet is imperative. Incorporating zinc-rich foods into our meals is an excellent way to ensure optimal health and well-being. This article will let you know 20 of the best zinc-rich foods you can easily include in your diet.

But before going into the details of zinc-rich foods, you must understand the various benefits of mineral zinc. Given below are some of the top benefits of zinc:

Benefits of zinc

1. Manages diarrhea in infants 

Zinc is a vital mineral that may be used in the management of Diarrhea in infants. According to the World Health Organization, zinc supplements need to be administered to infants to reduce their bouts of diarrhea.

2. Bolsters your immune system

The immune system needs quite a lot of nutrients to function properly. Zinc is one such nutrient that strengthens your immune system. If you are suffering from a zinc deficiency, you may become sick quite often. People with a zinc deficiency may fall prey to chest infections like pneumonia. [7]

3. Prevents macular degeneration

The normal process of aging leads to macular degeneration. The mineral zinc can prevent this by arresting the cell damage in the retina of your eyes. This slows down the process of age-related vision loss. [7]

4. Facilitates wound healing

Zinc has a major role to play in wound healing. The mineral can help prevent infections related to wounds and even expedite the process of skin repair. [7]

5. Manages metabolic syndrome

Zinc supplementation helps in tackling metabolic syndrome. However, more research is needed on this matter.

6. Reduces the risk of chronic diseases

Zinc as a mineral comes with antioxidant properties. This helps in reducing the rate of free radical damage. According to research, free radicals are responsible for several chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and many more. By taking zinc supplements and zinc foods, you can keep these chronic diseases at bay.

7. Reduces neurological symptoms

The mineral zinc can help your nervous system function properly. Zinc deficiency may result in many unwanted neurological symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, tingling sensation, and headaches.

8. Prevents osteoporosis

Zinc plays a dominant role in the formation of bones. Therefore, this mineral may help in reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

9. Supports sexual health

Inadequate zinc supply to your body may delay the development of sexual attributes, and male fertility issues, and may balance the hormones. [7]

10. Treats skin issues

Zinc plays an important role in boosting your skin’s health. Due to the mineral’s repairing capacity, issues like acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa; etc. [7]

11. Improves cognitive function and memory

Studies show that zinc may help in improving the cognitive function of your brain. This mineral can nourish the brain cells and improve memory power and reasoning. [7]

Daily recommended zinc dosage [4]

Age groupsRecommended dosage
Birth to six months2 mg
Infants of 7 to 12 months3 mg
Children of 1 to 3 years3 mg
Children of 4 to 8 years5 mg
Children of 9 to 13 years8 mg
Teen females of 14 to 18 years9 mg
Teen males of 14 to 18 years11 mg
Adult females8 mg
Adult males11 mg
Pregnant teens12 mg
Pregnant adults11 mg
Breastfeeding teens13 mg
Breastfeeding adults12 mg

20 zinc-rich vegetarian foods

1. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are among the most outstanding zinc-rich foods and are also exceptionally versatile in nature. Chickpeas may be enjoyed in curries, as salad, and snacks too. A cup of cooked chickpeas can provide approximately 2.5 mg of zinc to your body. [6]

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal serves as a classic breakfast and starting the day with a bowl of oats is definitely a healthy start as oats, apart from zinc, have multiple other beneficial minerals. Half a cup of oats can offer you 1.3 mg of zinc.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are considered zinc-rich foods and make a delicious and nutritious snack. Just 28 g of roasted pumpkin seeds contain about 2.2 mg of zinc. [6]

4. Corn

Corn, the pantry staple in many Indian households, is one of the most popular zinc foods. It is used in several recipes such as corn fritters, sandwiches, stews, and soups.0.56 mg of zinc is available from 1 cup of corn.

5. Peas

Peas are another vegetable that provides a good amount of zinc, delivering approximately 1.2 mg per 100 g of green peas.

6. Cheese

Various types of cheese such as cheddar are rich in zinc. With approximately 1.5 mg of zinc per 50 g serving, cheese is a great addition to your diet. [6]

7. Peanuts

Peanuts are a delicious and nutritious nut, containing around 0.8 mg of zinc per 50 g of dry-roasted peanuts. They are also considered sources of foods rich in magnesium and zinc. [6]

8. Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most consumed zinc-rich foods in India, providing approximately 1.08 mg of zinc if the potato you are using is a large regular kind of potato.

9. Moong dal

Moong dal is a great plant-based zinc-rich food, with just 100 g of boiled moong dal offering around 2.6 mg. [6]

10. Yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is not only an excellent source of probiotics but also contains approximately 1 mg of zinc per 200 g serving. [6]

11. Dark chocolates

Dark chocolate has a high zinc content. It can also satiate your sugar cravings. A 100 g dark chocolate bar can supply you with about 3.3 mg of zinc.

12. Garlic

Garlic is the best source of zinc in the vegetarian zinc sources segment. Nearly 1.16 mg of zinc is available from 50 g of garlic.

13. Cashew

Cashews are the best source of zinc in the category of nuts. A 1-ounce serving of cashew nuts provides your body with nearly 15% of the daily zinc value. [6]

14. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a healthier and more nutritious alternative to white rice and contains about 0.7 mg of zinc in just half a cup of cooked long-grain brown rice serving.

15. Watermelon Seeds

Watermelon seeds or magaz are one of the best seeds in terms of zinc content. A handful of these seeds can provide you with nearly 4 mg of zinc. [6]

16. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are considered a zinc-rich food for vegetarians and a delicious and nutritious legume, providing approximately 0.6 mg of zinc per 100 g serving. [6]

17. Spinach

Spinach is one of the healthiest vegetarian zinc food sources. This leafy green offers 7 mg of the mineral zinc per 200 calories.

18. Mushrooms

Mushrooms such as shiitake and button mushrooms are a rich source of zinc. 8 mg of zinc is available in a 100-calorie portion size of button mushroom. 5 mg of zinc is available in 200-calorie portion size of shiitake mushroom.

19. Banana

Large-sized bananas, 8 to 9 inches in length, can provide you with 0.20 mg of the mineral Zinc. A small banana weighing 100 grams can supply you with 0.15 mg of zinc.

20. Whole Wheat

Whole wheat is considered one of the most popular zinc-rich foods in India and a versatile and nutrient-dense food, offering approximately 2.5 mg of zinc per 100 grams. So, taking rotis made from whole wheat flour may help you get the needed supply of zinc.[6]

Side effects of zinc overdose

Though zinc is a useful mineral, it may result in unwanted side effects if consumed in excess. The most common side effects are:

  1. Some people may suffer from nausea, stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea due to overconsumption of zinc.
  2. Excess consumption of zinc may also result in flu-like symptoms in some people.
  3. Too much zinc may reduce your body’s capacity to absorb copper and iron, two other vital minerals for your body, and that might eventually lead to copper and iron deficiency. [5]

Precautions to keep in mind

Zinc is a trace mineral and therefore, you need to consume it as per the recommended dosage and never in excess. Zinc may interact with certain medications especially antibiotics and diuretics, producing unwanted side effects. [4] Breastfeeding mothers and would-be mothers should be cautious about zinc overdose. Also, children should never overconsume this mineral. To rule out the possibility of side effects, it is best to consult a doctor before incorporating zinc-rich foods into your diet.


1. What health problems can you face if you suffer from zinc deficiency?

A zinc deficiency can lead to various health problems and impair the proper functioning of the body. Some common signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency include:
Impaired Immune Function: Zinc deficiency can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to infections.
Delayed Wound Healing: Inadequate zinc levels can slow down the wound-healing process and lead to chronic wounds.
Skin Problems: Zinc deficiency may cause skin issues like acne, dermatitis, and dry skin.
Loss of Appetite: Zinc plays a role in taste perception, and a deficiency can lead to a loss of appetite.
Hair Loss: Insufficient zinc levels may contribute to hair loss and thinning.
Impaired Growth: Zinc is vital for growth and development, and a deficiency can lead to stunted growth in children.
Cognitive Function: Zinc deficiency has been associated with cognitive impairments and learning difficulties.

2. What is the recommended upper limit of daily zinc intake?

The recommended upper limit of daily zinc intake is 40 mg for adults and for infants under the age of 6 months, the upper limit is 4 mg of zinc per day.

3. Can zinc be taken daily?

Taking zinc daily is generally considered safe, as your body doesn’t require a large amount of this mineral. While it’s common to have slightly low zinc levels, combining a balanced diet with a multivitamin should provide you with the necessary zinc intake.

4. What is the best way to take zinc supplements?

Zinc supplements should never be taken on an empty stomach. Also, it is best to take zinc supplements with juice or water.

5. What are the different types of zinc supplements?

The different types of zinc supplements are:
1) Tablets
2) Capsules
3) Lozenge
4) Nasal sprays
5) Nasal gels


Ensuring an adequate intake of zinc is vital for maintaining optimal health and supporting various physiological processes in the body. Including zinc-rich foods in your diet can help meet your daily zinc needs and contribute to your overall well-being. If you are a vegetarian dreading zinc deficiency, you must know that there are plenty of zinc-rich foods vegetarian to help you achieve a balanced and nutritious diet. Consume a variety of zinc-rich foods along with a well-rounded diet to support your health and vitality.


This article is written from a health and wellness perspective only and is not a piece of medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment. 


  1. Zinc
  2. Reported Dietary Intake and Food Sources of Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamins A, E and C in the Spanish Population: Findings from the ANIBES Study
  3. Zinc in ayurvedic herbo-mineral products
  4. Zinc Fact Sheet for Consumers
  5. Zinc
  6. Zinc and vegetarian diets
  7. A potential medicinal importance of zinc in human health and chronic disease

Dr. Deepa Kadam

Dr. Deepa has over 25 years of experience making her one of the notable medical professionals in the field of Ayurveda with expertise in Ayurvedic pharmacology.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here