Best Zinc-Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet While In Quarantine

Keeping your immune system up and running is a great way to lessen the risk of getting infected by viruses as lethal as COVID-19. In order to do so, it is important to practice a healthy diet daily. A diet rich in natural food sources such as fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats gives you vital nutrients that are beneficial to your overall health and to your immunity in particular.

One of these vital nutrients is zinc. Unlike other nutrients, it is not naturally produced in the body. In addition to wound healing, protein synthesis and improving senses such as sight, smell and taste, zinc has been shown to support immune function by activating T-lymphocytes, which attack infected cells.

Registered dietitian and food blogger Maggie Michalczyk told health and lifestyle website mindbodygreen that zinc's role in immune function may be a reason why many lozenges and supplements contain the mineral. Though zinc is available in OTC lozenges and supplements, there are lots of natural zinc-rich food sources that do the job of meeting your daily nutritional needs just as effectively.

Since the daily recommended intake of zinc is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women, the National Institutes of Health, Michalczyk and other registered dietitians suggested adding the following zinc-rich foods to your diet while in quarantine:


Oysters have the highest amount of zinc from food. More accurately, just 3 ounces of cooked or breaded and fried oysters provide 74 milligrams or 673 percent of your daily value (DV). Registered dietitian Jess Cording recommended eating canned oysters if you cannot get them fresh from the sea since they also have the same benefits.

Crab and Lobster

Like other shellfish, crab and lobster are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are zinc-rich. While crab provides 59 percent of your daily zinc volume, lobster provides 31 percent. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), crabs and lobsters are two of the best seafood choices because of their low mercury levels.

Red Meat 

Red meat includes beef and pork. Beef, in particular, contains more zinc -- up to 64 percent of your DV. If you are a meat-eater, it is recommended to opt for lean meat for it tends to be lower in cholesterol and saturated fats. Aside from being high in zinc, lean meat is also rich in protein.


Chicken, especially chicken breast and dark meat chicken, is a good source of both zinc and protein. While chicken breast provides 8 percent DV, dark meat chicken has higher levels of zinc, with 22 percent of your DV. 

Baked Beans 

Beans in general are inexpensive sources of nutrients, including protein, fiber, magnesium and zinc. Of all the legumes, baked beans (including vegetarian ones) are highest in zinc with 2.9 milligrams per half-cup or 26 percent DV.

Hemp Seeds

"Hemp seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids in a plant-based diet," according to naturopathic doctor and dietitian Jaime Schehr. Packed with essential nutrients like vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium and calcium, these tiny seeds are high in zinc -- 30 percent DV to be exact. 


Though known for its high calcium content, yogurt is also a good zinc source. A single 8-ounce container provides 15 percent of your daily value. "Yogurt is also a powerhouse in the probiotic world," Schehr said.


Cashews are not only loaded with nutrients such as magnesium, selenium, iron and phosphorus, but are also high in zinc. One ounce (equivalent to about 18 cashews) provides 1.6 milligrams or 15 percent of your DV. Schehr said that cashews are excellent sources of phytochemicals (healthy plant-based chemical compounds), plant-based proteins, healthy fats and antioxidants.

Pumpkin Seeds 

Although hemp, chia, flax and other seeds are high in zinc, Cording primarily recommends pumpkin seeds. One ounce provides 2.2 milligrams or 20 percent of your daily zinc value. Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium, which supports sleep quality, as well as antioxidants that fight harmful free radicals -- thus supporting your immune system.


While not as high in zinc as baked beans, these versatile beans provide 12 percent of your DV and are loaded with plant-based proteins, fiber, phosphorus and iron.

Whole Grains

"Many whole grains like quinoa, oats, and rice contain zinc and other vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, fiber, magnesium, and iron," Michalczyk said. One packet of oatmeal, in particular, contains 10 percent of your DV. Michalczyk noted that while whole grains are good zinc sources, they also contain phytic acid, which may reduce zinc absorption. Therefore, whole grains are best consumed together with other zinc-rich food sources.

chickpeas Enjoying chickpeas goes beyond being staples of regional cuisines. jackmac34 / Pixabay

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