The Top 20 Foods High In Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in immune function, growth, and development.

Currently, the recommended dietary allowance for zinc is 11 mg for male adults and 8 mg for females (1).

However, where can we find the best dietary sources of the mineral?

This article provides a guide to twenty foods high in zinc. For each food, you can find the amount of zinc it contains per typical portion and per 100 grams.

All nutrition data is courtesy of the USDA Food Composition Databases.

1) Oysters (Cooked)

Open Shell Oyster Next To Lemon Juice.

Per 100 grams Per 6 medium oysters
45.1 mg (301% DV) 26.6 mg (178% DV)

Oysters are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world, and they are a great source of zinc too.

Per six medium oysters, we can get around 178% of the daily value for zinc (2).

Aside from zinc, oysters provide significant amounts of vitamin B12, copper, selenium, and even some omega-3.

2) Veal Liver (Cooked)

Per 100 grams Per 3 oz (85g) serving
11.2 mg (75% DV) 9.3 mg (63% DV)

Veal refers to the meat of calves, and veal liver provides one of the highest amounts of zinc.

Per typical three-ounce serving, veal liver offers 63% of the daily value for the mineral (3).

Similar to oysters, organ meats such as liver are also excellent sources of vitamin B12 and copper.

Additionally, veal liver is extremely high in protein yet contains few calories, making it very nutrient-dense.

3) Tahini

Per 100 grams Per oz (28g) serving
10.4 mg (70% DV) 2.9 mg (20% DV)

Tahini is a kind of condiment—a paste to be precise—made from ground sesame seeds.

Since sesame seeds are rich in zinc, this thick paste offers large amounts of the mineral.

Per ounce serving, tahini offers 2.9 mg of zinc, which is equivalent to 20% of the daily value (4).

Tahini is primarily a source of fat, but it also offers around five grams of carbohydrate and protein per serving.

If you need some ideas for what to do with tahini, then there is a good collection of 36 recipes here.

4) Hemp Seeds (Hulled)

Per 100 grams Per tbsp (30g) serving
9.90 mg (90% DV) 2.97 mg (27% DV)

Hemp seeds are another type of seed high in zinc, and they provide 27% of the daily value per tablespoon serving (5).

These seeds come from the hemp plant, which is otherwise known as Cannabis sativa.

Other than their zinc content, hemp seeds contain good amounts of protein, fat, magnesium, and phosphorus.

The seeds have a mild and nutty flavor, and they are a great way to add some extra nutrients to our diet.

5) Baking Chocolate (100% Unsweetened)

Per 100 grams Per Square (29g) serving
9.63 mg (64% DV) 2.79 mg (25% DV)

Nutritionally, chocolate can either be unhealthy or reasonably nutritious depending on the amount of cocoa it contains.

While milk chocolate contains excessive amounts of sugar, dark chocolate is quite nutrient-rich.

In this case, 100% unsweetened chocolate offers all the nutrients with none of the sugar.

As a result, baking chocolate is one of the best sources of zinc, and just one square offers 19% of the daily value (6).

6) Beef (Chuckeye Steak – Lean)

Per 100 grams Per steak (309g) 
8.78 mg (80% DV) 27.13 mg (247% DV)

All beef is a good source of zinc, and while there is nothing specifically wrong with fatty cuts of meat, lean cuts are the most nutrient-rich.

Based on an average size steak, lean chuck eye offers a significant 247% of the daily value for zinc (7).

Additionally, beef provides large amounts of protein, iron, and B vitamins.

7) Whey Protein Isolate

Per 100 grams Per ounce (28g) serving
8.72 mg (79% DV) 2.44 mg (22% DV)

Whey protein isolate is close to being a pure source of dairy protein, and it contains almost zero carbs or fat.

Since it is such a good source of protein, whey isolate tends to a popular supplement for athletes and those who work out.

However, whey protein isolate is not only protein, and it also offers a range of vitamins and minerals.

Amongst these nutrients, whey isolate contains high amounts of zinc, equivalent to 20% of the daily value per serving (8).

8) Beef Jerky

Per 100 grams Per ounce (28g) serving
8.11 mg (74% DV) 2.30 mg (20% DV)

If fresh beef is a good source of zinc, then it makes sense that dried beef will be too.

Per ounce serving, beef jerky provides around 20% of the daily value for zinc (9).

Beef jerky is also an excellent (and concentrated) source of protein.

9) Pumpkin Seeds

Per 100 grams Per ounce (28g) serving
7.81 mg (71% DV) 2.21 mg (20% DV)

Most seeds offer a good source of zinc, and pumpkin seeds are no different.

Just one ounce of these seeds provides 20% of the daily value for the mineral (10).

Further to their zinc content, pumpkin seeds are also very rich in copper and magnesium.

10) Sesame Seeds

Sesame Seeds In a Wooden Bowl With a Wooden Scoop.

Per 100 grams Per ounce (28g) serving
7.75 mg (70% DV) 2.17 mg (20% DV)

Although we can eat sesame seeds in their raw state, they are most popular as a condiment.

These seeds offer a flavor-enhancing addition to any dish, and this is particularly true of toasted sesame seeds.

These flavorful seeds are also mineral-rich, and they offer large amounts of copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc.

Regarding their zinc content, sesame seeds supply 20% of the daily value per ounce serving (11).

11) Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)

Per 100 grams Per tbsp (5.4g) serving
6.81 mg (62% DV) 0.37 mg (3% DV)

Similar to chocolate, “cocoa” can be healthy (or not) depending on whether it is unsweetened or part of a hot chocolate mix.

The unsweetened version of cocoa contains a large number of minerals, and it is an especially good source of magnesium and copper.

Cocoa is also quite high in zinc, and it offers 62% of the daily value per 100 grams.

In a more realistic tablespoon serving, cocoa provides 3% of the daily value for zinc (12).

12) Chicken Heart (Raw Weight)

Per 100 grams Per Chicken Heart (6.1g)
6.59 mg (60% DV) 0.40 mg (4% DV)

Generally speaking, organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart are very nutritious.

For zinc content, chicken hearts are one of the best dietary sources.

Chicken hearts are very small, and each one offers around 4% of the daily value for zinc. Per 100 grams, this is approximately 60% of the recommended intake (13).

In addition to their provision of zinc, chicken hearts are also an iron-rich food.

13) Pine Nuts

Per 100 grams Per oz (28g) serving
6.45 mg (59% DV) 1.83 mg (17% DV)

Widely known for their role in the taste of pesto sauce, pine nuts have grown in popularity over recent decades.

Pine nuts grow around the world, and they have a rich and flavorful buttery taste.

These nuts are also a good source of nutrition, and they offer a rich source of vitamins and minerals.

Pine nuts offer a good amount of zinc too, with a typical serving offering about 17% of the daily value (14).

14) Lamb Meat (Lean)

Per 100 grams Per 6 oz (170g) serving
6.08 mg (55% DV) 10.34 mg (95% DV)

While lamb meat isn’t as high in zinc as beef, it is still a good source of the mineral.

For instance, a six-ounce cut of lamb contains 10.34 mg of zinc, which is equivalent to 95% of the daily value (15).

Similar to all varieties of meat, lamb is rich in protein, iron, and B vitamins.

Interestingly, pasture-raised lamb meat can also be a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids (16, 17).

15) Wild Rice (Raw Weight)

Per 100 grams Per 1/2 cup (80g) serving
5.96 mg (54% DV) 4.77 mg (43% DV)

The majority of the world prefer white rice.

However, whole-food versions such as wild rice and black rice contain much higher concentrations of nutrients.

Interestingly, wild rice is a type of seed rather than a traditional grain (18).

Wild rice is also one of the best dietary sources of zinc, and a standard half-cup serving offers 43% of the recommended intake (19).

16) Cashew Nuts

Per 100 grams Per oz (28g) serving
5.78 mg (53% DV) 1.64 mg (15% DV)

Cashew nuts are one of the most popular nut varieties.

However, their popularity isn’t a surprise given their mild and buttery flavor, and they taste delicious with a bit of salt.

These nuts are also reasonably nutrient-dense, and they have a reasonable zinc content.

Per ounce serving, cashews offer 15% of the daily value for zinc (20).

Cashew nuts are also one of the best dietary sources of copper.

17) Pastrami Beef

Per 100 grams Per slice (28g)
4.98 mg (45% DV) 1.39 mg (13% DV)

For those that don’t know pastrami, it is a variety of seasoned and then smoked beef.

Pastrami typically contains either beef or pork in addition to a variety of herbs and spices, and it comes in thin slices.

Since the primary ingredient of pastrami is beef, it is also a good source of zinc.

To be specific, just one slice provides around 13% of the recommended daily intake for the mineral (21).

18) Soybeans (raw weight)

Per 100 grams Per 1/2 cup (93g)
4.89 mg (44% DV) 4.55 mg (41% DV)

There are a wide variety of soybean-based foods in world cuisine, and these include natto, miso, tempeh, and edamame.

Soybeans are a reasonably good source of zinc too, and a half-cup serving supplies around 41% of the daily value (22).

Opting for fermented-soy dishes such as natto can also provide significant concentrations of vitamin K2 in the form of menaquinone-7.

On this note, research suggests that higher intakes of vitamin K2 may protect bone mass density and lower the risk of atherosclerosis (23, 24).

19) Bison (Ground Meat)

Per 100 grams Per 6 oz (170g)
4.59 mg (42% DV) 7.8 mg (71% DV)

Sadly, bison populations in North America fell from as high as 50-75 million to only around 500,000 today (25).

However, thanks to conservation efforts, bison populations are on the rise once more.

Additionally, due to its believed health and sustainability advantages, bison meat is becoming increasingly popular.

Bison is nutritious too; it is very protein-rich, and it offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

Regarding its zinc content, a six-ounce serving of bison contains 7.8 mg of the mineral – equivalent to 71% of the recommended intake (26).

20) Chia Seeds

Per 100 grams Per oz (28g)
4.58 mg (42% DV) 1.3 mg (12% DV)

Chia seeds are a nutritious type of seeds, and they offer a moderate source of zinc.

Per ounce serving, chia seeds offer 12% of the recommended daily intake (27).

Chia seeds are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

While ALA is not as bioavailable as DHA and EPA omega-3 (found in seafood), it still helps to increase our intake of this essential fatty acid.

Summary Table: Foods High In Zinc Per 100 Grams

The following table summarizes the zinc content of each food per 100 grams. As a result, you can see the relative zinc-density of the foods at a glance.

The Zinc Content of Foods Per 100 Grams
Food Name Zinc Content Per 100 Grams
Oysters 45.1 mg (301% DV)
Veal Liver 11.2 mg (75% DV)
Tahini 10.4 mg (70% DV)
Hemp Seeds 9.90 mg (90% DV)
Baking Chocolate (100%) 9.63 mg (64% DV)
Lean Beef 8.78 mg (80% DV)
Whey Protein Isolate 8.72 mg (79% DV)
Beef Jerky 8.11 mg (74% DV)
Pumpkin Seeds 7.81 mg (79% DV)
Sesame Seeds 7.75 mg (70% DV)
Cocoa Powder 6.81 mg (62% DV)
Chicken Heart 6.59 mg (60% DV)
Pine Nuts 6.45 mg (59% DV)
Lamb Meat 6.08 mg (55% DV)
Wild Rice 5.96 mg (54% DV)
Cashew Nuts 5.78 mg (53% DV)
Beef Pastrami 4.98 mg (45% DV)
Soybeans 4.89 mg (44% DV)
Bison 4.59 mg (42% DV)
Chia Seeds 4.58 mg (42% DV)

Final Thoughts

Zinc is an important mineral for our health, and it plays a role in numerous biological functions.

On the positive side, many common foods offer high concentrations of the mineral.

Overall, meat, organ meats, and shellfish are the best animal food sources of zinc.

Some plant foods, such as seeds, cocoa, and nuts, are also rich sources.

For more on mineral-rich foods, see the best sources of potassium here.

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