Zinc is an essential mineral for good health, including proper immune function and various metabolic processes. Zinc is also essential for wound healing and proper growth and development during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood. In this article, we will explore the top 10 plant-based foods that contain zinc.

Why are Zinc-Rich Foods Important?

Since the body cannot naturally produce zinc, you must obtain it through food. You can also get zinc as a supplement, but food sources are always the best.

The daily recommended zinc intake is 11 mg for men, 8mg for women, 11 mg for pregnant women, and 12 mg for breastfeeding women.

However, most people do not meet these requirements, especially because some groups are at a higher risk of deficiency, such as children, teenagers, pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly, and those with conditions such as sickle cell disease or digestive disorders. See Are You Zinc Deficient?

Common symptoms of zinc deficiency include delayed healing, loss of appetite, weak immunity, hair loss, and difficulty tasting properly.

Given that the body doesn’t require too much zinc, a well-planned meal with zinc-rich foods may help provide you with sufficient amounts for proper function.

Although animal foods are among the highest in zinc; they are associated with health issues, including inflammation, high cholesterol, and increased risk for various chronic conditions. So sticking to plant-based sources is the best option to obtain zinc and lower your disease risk.

Best Plant-Based Foods that Contain Zinc

Here are the top 10 plant-based sources of zinc to consume

zinc infographic

1. Chia seeds

These tiny black seeds are not only rich in fiber, omega 3-fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants; they are also a good source of zinc, especially for those on a plant-based diet.

One ounce of chia seeds ( 28.4 grams) provides 1.3 mg of zinc, equivalent to 12 percent of the daily requirement for men and 16 percent for women.

Consuming chia seeds may also boost digestive health, lower cholesterol, aid weight loss, and lower the risk of developing heart disease. See 9 Proven Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds

How To Use & Prepare Them

Chia seeds are a great addition to any diet, and they’re especially tasty when eaten as snacks or incorporated into recipes. Here are some delicious ways to eat chia seeds:

  • As a replacement for cereal or oatmeal on busy mornings. Mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk or water for a nutritious breakfast that will keep you full until lunchtime.
  • Add them to smoothies, yogurt bowls, and cereal recipes for an extra boost of nutrients and flavor.
  • Eat them as is as a snack or add them to savory dishes for added texture and flavor. Try adding them to stir-fries, curries, or pasta dishes.
  • Use them as a binding agent in breads, muffins, and cakes. Add 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds to the dry ingredients before mixing in the wet ingredients.
  • Make chia seed pudding instead of traditional pudding using 2 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with 2 cups of milk or fruit juice. Let the pudding sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving for a firmer consistency.
  • As a healthy condiment for salads and sandwiches.

Recipes With Chia Seeds

  1. Mango Chia Pudding
  2. Strawberry Jam With Chia Seeds
  3. Coconut Chia Salad Dressing

2. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are small brown seeds of the cannabis Sativa plant, commonly known as marijuana. They are a great source of essential fatty acids, protein, fiber, and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, sodium, iron, sulfur, calcium, and zinc.

Two tablespoons (28 grams) of hemp seeds contain 5 milligrams of zinc, equivalent to 34 percent of the daily requirement. This is a fantastic amount to obtain from a single source. Incorporating other plant-based sources of zinc throughout the day will enable you to meet your daily requirements.

Eating hemp seeds may also lower your risk of heart disease, aid digestion, enhance weight loss, fight inflammation, prevent cancer, and promote hair, skin, and nail health.

You can enjoy them raw, cooked, or roasted.

Delicious ways to eat hemp seeds
  • Add hemp seeds to your breakfast cereal
  • Use them as a snack in the afternoon or evening
  • Try them in smoothies or Healthy Bowls
  • Sprinkle hemp seeds on top of your favorite salad
  • Grind hemp seeds and use them as a healthy seasoning for your food
  • Make hemp seed milk or yogurt
  • Bake with hemp seeds and enjoy as a healthy treat
  • Enjoy them as a topping on your favorite dish
  • Use hemp seeds to make homemade bread, muffins, or cookies
  • Enjoy them as a healthy snack option any time of the day!
  • Add them to tropical Acai Bowl recipes.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients that even a small amount may provide a considerable amount of magnesium, healthy fats, and zinc.

One ounce (28 grams) offers 738 milligrams of magnesium, equivalent to 185 percent of the daily requirement, and 2.1 milligrams of zinc, equal to 14 percent of the requirement.

Pumpkin seeds are also rich in antioxidants like vitamin E and carotenoids, which can help fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals that may cause oxidative stress.

Also, regular consumption of pumpkin seeds may improve heart health, lower blood sugar levels, improve fertility in men, promote better sleep, and lower your risk of certain cancers such as breast, stomach, lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Read More Pumpkin Seeds Benefits.

Delicious ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a great snack option for those looking for something healthy and filling. They are high in protein, fiber and antioxidants, making them an excellent choice for those on a healthy diet. Here are some ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds:

  • Roast them in the oven and enjoy them as is. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spread the seeds on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until they are lightly browned.
  • Add them to your salad. Mix them into your salad for extra nutrients and crunchy texture.
  • Make seed butter. To make seed butter, simply roast the seeds until they are lightly browned and then grind them into a paste using a food processor or blender. Seed butter can be used as a healthy replacement for store-bought peanut butter or tahini sauce in recipes.
  • Add them to your smoothie recipes
  • Sprinkle on top of yogurt or cereal
  • Use pumpkin flour as a replacement for regular baking flour
  • Use pumpkin flour as a thickener in soups and stews
  • Include pumpkin seeds in your pastries

Pumpkin Soup Recipes

Vegan Pumpkin Recipes

4. Beans

Beans are the most commonly consumed legumes. They are a great plant-based alternative source of protein and a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, among them zinc.

There are various types of beans, including black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and navy beans, but their zinc content per cup is almost similar, with each providing between 12-15 percent of the daily requirements. Top Best Beans To Eat.

Beans have several benefits, including lowering cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, improving digestion, enhancing weight loss, preventing heart disease, and fighting cancer.

You can use them to prepare soups, stews, casseroles, puree, or as a basis for dips. Beans such as black beans can also be added to salads.

Delicious Ways To Eat Beans
  • Beans as a Side Dish: Beans can be served as a side dish with rice, quinoa, or pasta. They can also be used as a filling in sandwiches or wraps.
  • Beans as a Soup Base: Bean soup is a great way to warm up on cold winter days. You can make it with either dried or canned beans.
  • Beans as a Rice Substitute: beans can be used as a substitute for rice in many dishes. They are especially good in soups, stews, and chili recipes.
  • Beans on the Grill: Grilled beans are a healthy way to add flavor and texture to your meals. You can grill them using either gas or charcoal grills.
  • Bean Dip: Bean dip is a popular appetizer that is easy to prepare and vegan-friendly. It is made by mixing cooked beans with salsa, sour cream, and spices.
  • Bean Burrito Bowls: Bean burrito bowls can be as simple as using canned beans or as elaborate as using fresh ones
  • Baked Fries with Beans and Garlic
  • Baked Beans: Bean baked beans are a classic comfort food that are often served at fall gatherings.

Bean Recipes

  1. Vegan Southern Green Beans And Potatoes
  2. Jamaican Rice And Peas
  3. Jamaican Stew Peas
  4. Black Bean Burritos
  5. Vegan White Bean Soup

5. Chickpeas

Chickpeas also known as garbanzo beans,  are the main ingredient in hummus, a Middle Eastern dip made from cooked and mashed chickpeas blended with lemon juice, garlic, and tahini.

When cooked, a cup of chickpeas offers 2.5 milligrams of zinc, equivalent to 17 percent of the daily recommendation. See Are Chickpeas Good For You?

Chickpeas also offer a good amount of protein, fiber, manganese, folate, phosphorus, copper, and iron. 

Delicious ways to eat chickpeas
  • Chickpea fritters: These fritters are made with chickpeas, flour, salt, and water. They are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, making them perfect for a snack or appetizer.
  • Chickpea hummus: This simple hummus is made with just chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It is creamy and delicious and perfect for scooping onto slices of bread or vegetable sticks.
  • Chickpea tacos: These tacos are made with soft taco shells filled with chickpeas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and salsa. They are topped with sour cream and salsa verde (a green sauce).
  • In salads: Chickpeas are an excellent addition to salads. They add fiber, protein, and healthy fats to the mix, making them a satisfying meal option.
  • As a side dish: Chickpeas can be enjoyed as a side dish with rice, quinoa, or couscous. They make a great vegetarian replacement for meat.
  • Make a chickpea curry: This curry is perfect for those warm summer days. Chickpeas are simmered in a flavorful curry sauce with spices like cumin, chili powder, and ginger.
  • Blend up a chickpea smoothie: A smoothie made with chickpeas is a healthy way to start the day or to power through lunchtime stress. Just blend together with some fruits, vegetables, yogurt or milk, and you’re ready to go!

How To Cook Chickpeas?

My Favorite Chickpea Recipes

Vegan Chickpea Burger

6. Quinoa

A popular health food, primarily due to its good protein content. Quinoa is a complete protein, offering all the nine essential amino acids needed by the body.

It’s also rich in fiber, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin E, phosphorus, and zinc.

Additionally, it’s rich in antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol, the two powerful anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressants, and anti-cancer compounds.

Including quinoa in your diet will significantly boost your zinc intake and offer protection against various health conditions. How To Cook Quinoa?

Best Vegan Quinoa Recipes

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Jamaican Style Quinoa And Peas

Instant Pot Quinoa

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are extensively known for promoting brain function and boosting heart health. They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, iron, and zinc.

Walnuts have been shown to lower cholesterol, promote gut health, fight inflammation, reduce cancer risk, support weight loss, and lower blood pressure. See More Benefits Of Walnuts.

How to add walnuts to your diet

Toss and add them to sandwiches

Use toasted walnuts to garnish your salads and desserts

Add them to your smooth

Recipes With Walnuts

Orange And Walnut Energy Balls

Apple And Walnut Porridge With Maple Syrup

Easy Vegan Burger Recipe

Tofu Meatballs

8. Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are tiny, oil-rich seeds used in making tahini.

They are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and minerals.

One ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds contains 2 milligrams or 13 percent of the daily zinc requirement.

In addition to boosting your zinc intake, sesame may offer other health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and controlling blood glucose levels. 8 Amazing Benefits Of Sesame Seeds.

How to eat sesame seeds

Sesame seeds can be eaten raw, baked, or tossed to bring out their natural flavors.

  • Make tahini
  • Toss into salads
  • Top your bagels, breadsticks, and buns
  • Sprinkle on soups and stir-fries
  • Soak raw sesame seeds overnight then blend in smoothies

Sesame Seed Recipes

Creamy Asian Salad Dressing

Sesame Tofu

9. Cashew nuts

With a one-ounce serving providing 15 percent of the daily zinc requirements, cashew nuts are among the best nut sources of zinc.

However, cashews are very high in calories and the least consumed by most health-conscious people. So eat them in moderation. Read: Are Cashews Good For You?

Vegan Mac And Cheese

Cashew Cream Recipe

Vegan Nachos

 Gravy Recipe

10. Some vegetables

Vegetables are generally low in zinc; however, some types such as regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, kale, and green beans contain some reasonable amounts and may contribute to your daily needs.

But even with the low zinc content, vegetables have been linked to reduced risk for heart disease and cancer among other issues.

Final Thoughts

Getting enough zinc in your diet is essential for your health and wellbeing, and incorporating these foods will boost your intake.

Supplements may also be an option for some people; however, they may not be the best option. Besides, these natural food sources contain other nutrients that can enhance your intake, thus promoting health.

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