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Zinc-rich Foods for Your Immunity - Photo: 4Life

Unless you're a die-hard nutrition buff or an expert in biochemistry, you likely only associate zinc with old-school sticks of sunscreen your mom made you use at the beach. But zinc is also an essential trace mineral—and since your body can’t produce or store it, you need to eat foods high in zinc on the reg.

Watermelon Seeds

While you hurry to bite into the juicy watermelon fruit, don't throw away its seeds. Dietician Dr. Simran Saini proclaims watermelon seeds as a good source of zinc. "Watermelon seeds and other melon seeds contain a good amount of zinc and other micro-nutrients like potassium and copper. I recommend taking around half teaspoon watermelon seeds 2-3 times a week." You can wash the flesh off from the seeds, sun-dry them and eat as a snack or you can also grind them and add to your meals. Watermelon seeds are great for immunity and also for maintaining heart health and blood sugar level.


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Photo: Taste

Per ounce, oysters have the highest zinc concentration of any food. Three ounces of raw oysters contain 32 milligrams of zinc, more than four times the recommended daily intake for the average gal.

Another perk: That same amount of oysters also contains over 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin B12, which is crucial for your nervous system, metabolism, and healthy blood cells.

Lean Beef

Although experts (like the American Institute for Cancer Research) recommend limiting red meat consumption to no more than a few times a week, lean beef can still be a healthy part of your diet.

Opt for 95 percent lean ground beef or lean cuts (like sirloin) with the fat trimmed, and you'll score 5.7 milligrams of zinc per four-ounce serving. (That's a little over 70 percent of the recommended daily value.)

Dark Chocolate

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Photo: Eat This, Not That

Perhaps surprisingly, dark chocolate contains reasonable amounts of zinc.

In fact, a 100-gram (3.5-ounce) bar of 70–85% dark chocolate contains 3.3 mg of zinc, or 30% of the DV.

However, 100 grams of dark chocolate also contain 600 calories. So while it provides some healthy nutrients, it is a high-calorie food.

While you may get some added nutrients with your treat, it’s not a food you should be relying on as your main source of zinc.

Black beans

Another excellent plant-based source of zinc? Black beans. Toss a cup of cooked black beans on top of that salad and you'll get 2 milligrams of zinc, or 25 percent of your daily needs. These beans are also high in iron, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium, which support overall health and are especially important for bone health.

Greek Yogurt

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Photo: Live Eat Learn

Greek yogurt has so many stellar health benefits, and here's yet another one to add to the list: a seven-ounce container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt packs 1.5 milligrams of zinc, which is 19 percent of what a woman needs daily. It’s also rich in digestion-boosting probiotics.


One large egg contains about 5 percent (0.6 mg) as per data by the United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA). Try to eat eggs on a daily basis.


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Photo: 123RF

Fish is an excellent source of zinc. Dr. Anshul Jaibharat suggests consuming fish at least twice a week. Meat products like chicken and lamb are also good options

Whole Grains

Whole grains offer a myriad of health benefits. Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and — you guessed it — zinc, 1 cup of raw oats boasts about 27 percent (2.95 mg) of the daily value of zinc, while the same amount of cooked brown rice has 13 percent (1.38 mg), and a slice of whole-wheat bread contains 5 percent (0.6 mg). Another whole grain packed with zinc is quinoa, used in this quinoa chili recipe from Damn Delicious.

The Bottom Line

Zinc is an essential mineral, and eating enough is important for maintaining good health.

The best way to ensure you are getting enough is to eat a varied diet with good sources of zinc, such as meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and dairy.

These foods can be easy and delicious additions to your diet.

If you’re worried that you’re not getting enough zinc through your diet, consider speaking to your healthcare provider about the possibility of taking a supplement

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