We talk a lot about vitamins, healthy fat, protein, and antioxidants, yet there’s simply not enough attention given to these wonderful, unsung heroes of the nutrient world: minerals.
Minerals — especially essential minerals calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, sodium, zinc, and, of course, copper — help keep our bodies healthy, functioning, and upright.
With an eye towards boosting our immune system, let’s take a deeper look at zinc!
Even though zinc is a trace mineral — meaning we require smaller amounts of it than other essential minerals — it happens to be the “second-most-abundant trace mineral in your body — after iron.” Zinc is most well-known for its ability to help the ” immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.” This crucial mineral has many other duties including making proteins and DNA, helping with growth and development, — “during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood” — aiding in wound healing, and it’s also “important for proper senses of taste and smell.” On top of these essential tasks, zinc is also “necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes.”
Luckily, zinc can be found easily within many plant-based foods including staples such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dark chocolate. Here are 15 excellent ways to increase your zinc consumption using natural, plant-based foods!
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Whole Foods Archives!
Legumes are an excellent source of plant-based nutrients, including zinc! For instance, one cup of chickpeas offers 21 percent of your daily value of copper. This Everyday Chickpea Curry recipe by Meredith Youngson is super easy to make and can be prepared in a large batch to be frozen for later days or kept in the fridge for a healthy go-to option throughout the week.
When sourcing out the best seeds to boost our zinc intake look no further than hemp seeds! Of course, hemp seeds are also an excellent source of omega fatty acids as well. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain “31 [percent] and 43 [percent] of the recommended daily intake for men and women, respectively.” Get creative with this Coconut Hemp Milk recipe by Ashley Smyczek! Dairy-free, nut-free, yet creamy and nutrient-rich, this unique plant-based milk will get you that daily dose of zinc to support your immune system.
This Chickpea Tempeh Tacos With Cashew Crema recipe by Taavi Moore is a double duty duo when it comes to offering zinc! Not only does it call for chickpea-rich zinc, but you’ll also get a healthy dose of zinc from that cashew crema. Cashews offer 15 percent of your daily value of zinc for every ounce!
If you’re looking for a bit of decadent splurge, while still keeping health in mind, give this Blueberry Walnut Crumble Bars recipe by Caroline Doucet a try! Along with antioxidant-rich blueberries, this recipe calls for zinc-rich walnut and oats. Plus, these bars rely on naturally sweet elements such as blueberries, dates, and vanilla extract instead of sugar.
Maybe blueberries are a bit too sweet for you, but you’re still looking to splurge! This Apricot, Almond, and Dark Chocolate Cookie Bars recipe by Molly Patrick brings together a few zinc-rich ingredients — almonds, dark chocolate, whole wheat flour, and flaxseed — yet keeps the sweetness subtle and balanced with slightly bitter apricots. When it comes to the zinc powerhouse in this recipe, take a closer look at dark chocolate, which happens to be one of the best sources of zinc offering about 30 percent of your daily value per “100-gram (3.5 ounce) bar of 70 [to] 85 [percent] dark chocolate.”
Another legume to get your immune system boosting! This Lemony White Bean Dip recipe by Crissy Cavanaugh calls for white beans which offer 20 percent of your daily value of zinc per cup. Plus, you can use this dip as a spread, let’s say on a slice of whole wheat bread, to really up that zinc intake!
If you didn’t already know, tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, which have around 74 percent of your daily value of zinc per cup! This Easy Tahini Granola recipe by Robin Runner uses a handful of zinc-rich ingredients including tahini, oats, cashews, pecans, pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), walnuts, and chia seeds.
As mentioned, cashews are an excellent source of zinc and also happen to be a wonderful ingredient for plant-based recipes! This Roasted Cashew Nut Butter recipe by Laine Rudolpha offers a simpler way to get zinc into your diet every day. Make a big jar of this creamy cashew butter and enjoy on slices of bread, mixed in with smoothies, in your morning oatmeal, or even as the main ingredient for some splurge baking sessions!
Whole grains are an excellent source of zinc! One cup of cooked long-grain brown rice equates to about 8 percent of your daily value of zinc. This Rice with Olives and Basil recipe by Kelly Jaggers mixes together that zinc-rich rice with healthy fat filled-olives and the aromatic flavoring of basil for a filling, yet delicate dish.
Another dark chocolate-rich recipe! This Healthy Toasted Coconut Almond Truffles recipe by Taavi Moore uses a load of dark chocolate — remember to find a no sugar added, dairy-free, and 70 percent cocoa version — along with zinc-rich almonds. Yes, it’s a splurge, but it’s definitely a healthier splurge!
Looking for that perfect, large batch recipe to either store in the fridge or freeze for the month? This Hearty Black Bean Soup recipe by Julie Zimmer is your go-to! While it’s loaded with ingredients, that means you’re just getting more bang for your buck. Plus, it’s loaded with zinc-rich black beans!
Can’t decide on which seeds to include in your diet? I don’t blame you! They’re all loaded with nutrients and wonderfully tasty. This Seed Crackers recipe by Sara Oliveria takes a bit of the decision-making out of your hands by calling for a half cup of mixed seeds of your choice such as sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and hemp! These crackers are loaded with seeds and therefore loaded with naturally sourced zinc.
This Raw Carrot Cake With Cashew Vanilla Frosting recipe by Kirsten Kaminski uses zinc-rich cashews, walnuts, flax seeds, and pistachios to create a super luxurious and delicious cake concoction that is free of refined sugar! Instead, Kaminski relies on nutrient-dense and naturally sweet carrots, cinnamon, dates, lemon juice, vanilla bean, and maple syrup.
Whole wheat is the most traditional whole grain you can find! This Whole Wheat Bread recipe by Pavani Nandula is super simple, yet provides a home-made source of zinc-rich whole wheat bread. Instead of opting for sugar-loaded, store-bought varieties, give this recipe a try at home, which calls for maple syrup instead of refined cane sugar. Plus, it also calls for zinc-rich walnuts for just a bit more of that wonderful, immune system boosting zinc!
You may need to take a leap with this recipe, but we guarantee that it will be a delicious spin on your traditional taco night! This Chilli Chocolate Tacos recipe by Phoebe Douglas calls for dark chocolate-rich zinc mixed in with a slew of other flavors, including a handful of ingredients that’ll give it some heat.
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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