Everyone knows that vitamins and minerals are important for the body’s optimum functioning and health. Some of these nutrients are so significant that even a small deficiency can prove to be a misfortune. Such is the case with zinc — a mineral so indispensable that it can be found in every single tissue in the human body and over 300 enzymes rely on it in order to work. In fact, a normal healthy person typically has 2 to 3 grams of zinc all the time.
Fortunately, there are so many foods that are excellent sources of zinc. Including them in your daily diet helps make sure that your body is supplied with sufficient amounts of the beneficial mineral.
Reasons Why Zinc is Essential
Before you get to know some of the top zinc-rich foods at the supermarket, it’s a good idea to get to know some of the reasons why zinc is a really important mineral. Here they are:
- It helps boost the immune system. A weakened immune system makes you more susceptible to various illnesses and infections, and bouncing from them may take some time.
- Zinc contributes to cancer prevention. The mineral is important for the healthy propagation of cells. Studies have shown that deficiency in zinc is linked to cancer of the prostate, breasts ovaries, colon, lungs and skin.
- The mineral helps keep the heart healthy. Zinc is important in warding off inflammation and high cholesterol levels, both of which can be really bad for your cardiovascular health.
- It helps keep diabetes at bay. Experts say that zinc helps insulin bind to cells so that glucose may be used efficiently, and this helps in the prevention of diabetes.
- Zinc helps combat depression. According to scientists, what makes zinc helpful in elevating the mood is the fact that it is involved with the production of dopamine, a chemical that boosts both the mood.
- It supports male and female reproductive health. Sufficient amounts of zinc helps in the normal production and utilization of the male hormone testosterone and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
The list of the benefits of zinc doesn’t end here. The mineral is also vital for superb athletic performance, neutralization of free radicals, prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, quality sleep, etc.
Excellent Sources of Zinc
Now that you know how important zinc is, it’s time to get to know some of the best food sources of the said mineral. The next time you hit the supermarket, make sure that these items are on your shopping list:
- Zinc-fortified breakfast cereals. Every 100 gram serving of breakfast cereals fortified with zinc contains about 52 milligrams of the said mineral. It’s a good idea to steer clear of breakfast cereals packed with sugars and other unnecessary chemicals so that you may enjoy the full benefits of these products to the health.
- Pumpkin seeds. You can get as much as 10.3 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams of pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also very good at bolstering the immune system and lowering prostate cancer risk. Try to eat your pumpkin seeds raw as roasting them causes much of the zinc content to get destroyed.
- Meat products. It’s very unlikely for you to suffer from zinc deficiency if you include various meat products in your daily diet. A 100-gram serving of lean beef packs as much as 12.3 milligrams of zinc. The same serving of pork contains 5 milligrams of zinc.
- Crabs, clams, mussels and other shellfish. Give yourself a pat on the back of you love eating an assortment of shellfish. That’s because these delectable foods from the ocean are naturally loaded with zinc. For instance, you can obtain as much as 76 milligrams of zinc in 6 pieces of oysters.
- Dark chocolate. Aside from antioxidants, dark chocolate also supplies your body with good amounts of zinc. A 100-gram serving of this luxurious treat contains 9.6 milligrams of the health-giving mineral. But just like what experts say, make sure that you opt for unsweetened dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa.
- Kidney beans. If you’re a vegan and eating meat is not an option, you can get zinc simply by including kidney beans in your diet. There are 2.79 milligrams of zinc in a 100-gram serving of kidney beans. They are also loaded with protein necessary for muscle building and repair.
- Here’s a good reason why you should go nuts over cashews: a 100-gram serving contains 5.35 milligrams of zinc. It’s also a good idea to snack on an assortment of nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts as many of them are also good sources of the mineral.
- Fruits and vegetables. Some fruits that contain zinc include pomegranates, avocados, blackberries and dates. You may also get zinc from vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, pumpkins, Swiss chards and corn.