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 sources of zinc to consume

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.


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

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. You can also include hemp seeds in smoothies, sprinkle on salads or yogurt, or add them to tropical Acai Bowl recipes.

Hemp seeds can also make various products, including hemp milk, hemp nut butter, hemp protein powder, and hemp oil.

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.

You can eat roasted or dried pumpkin seeds as a snack. You can also blend them in smoothies or add them to your oatmeal.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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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