If you are vegan, you may find it difficult to get in all the essential nutrients from the food you eat. Thankfully, if you follow a healthy, varied diet, you will still be able to consume most of the essential vitamins and minerals — including zinc — without eating any meat or animal products.
Some of the best vegan sources of zinc are hemp and pumpkin seeds, cashews, oats, tofu, and legumes such as lentils. The recommended daily amount of zinc is 8mg for women and 11mg for men. Zinc is an important mineral which has anti-inflammatory properties and which plays an essential role in immune system function.
In today’s article we are going to have a look at the best eleven vegan sources of zinc. If you don’t have time to check out the whole post, feel free to skip to the table at the end, otherwise keep reading. Let’s begin…
1. Hemp seeds
About 10mg of zinc per 100g.
Hemp seeds come from the cannabis plant, but don’t worry, they won’t make you high. They are a superfood which contains heart-healthy fatty acids, a good amount of protein, and vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant. They are also rich in zinc, which is why they are at the top of this list. You can add hemp seeds to your favorite salad, vegan yogurt, or cereal bowls.
2. Pumpkin seeds
About 8mg of zinc per 100g.
These are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, a key mineral for optimal muscle and nervous system function, strong bones, and even deep sleep. Just like any other seeds, they taste amazing and can be easily added to your diet. Besides their zinc content, they are also high in fiber, antioxidants, and protein — one cup contains roughly 12 grams.
About 6mg of zinc per 100g.
Cashews are basically dry fruits, although they are often considered as nuts. They are a healthy, convenient snack — no need to cook or refrigerate them — and a great source of vitamin B, protein, copper, manganese, and magnesium. They are very versatile and can be added to most vegan dishes; cashew cream is a great alternative to dairy and non-vegan sauces.
About 3.5mg of zinc per 100g.
Oats are some of the most nutritious grains on the planet. They are packed with zinc, selenium, and B vitamins, which are essential for good energy levels and a healthy brain. They are also high in fiber, so they help you improve your gut health and cholesterol levels. If you follow a vegan diet, eating a cup of oats for breakfast will give you an extra dose of zinc — about a fourth of the recommended daily value.
5. Dark chocolate
About 3mg of zinc per 100g.
I get it: it’s not the healthiest food. It’s also a stimulant, so if you suffer from anxiety or insomnia it would be best not to consume it. However, it does have some health benefits — it can boost brain function and lower blood pressure, and contains many antioxidants. Not all dark chocolate is vegan (some companies add butter or milk to it), so make sure to check the ingredients before you buy a bar.
About 2mg of zinc per 100g.
Prepared with soy milk, tofu is a popular ingredient used in many vegan dishes. It’s basically tasteless, but its soft, spongy texture can easily absorb other flavors. Tofu is very high in protein (which is why it can be used to replace meat), and very versatile. 200 grams of tofu will give you roughly 4mg of zinc — almost half of the recommended daily amount.
About 2mg of zinc per 100g.
Some vegan sources of zinc, including grains and legumes, contain phytic acid — an anti-nutrient which can actually inhibit the absorption of zinc. Thankfully, the amount of phytates in lentils is lower than that of other legumes. Lentils are also packed with iron (a key mineral vegans can be deficient in), protein, and B vitamins. They are also very low in fat.
About 1.5mg of zinc per 100g.
Just like cashews, chickpeas can be used to prepare various vegan sauces, and they contain a good amount of iron, magnesium, and zinc. If you eat hummus (a delicious cream made with chickpeas, lemon juice, and garlic) you can still get a tiny dose of zinc, although it’s best to eat canned chickpeas. This legume can help you lose weight and add more fiber to your diet.
9. Green peas
About 1.2mg of zinc per 100g.
Green peas are a good source of plant protein. If you follow a vegan diet, you may have noticed that some companies use peas to produce protein bars and other kinds of supplements. Pea protein contains all the nine essential amino acids, although it does not contain methionine, so it’s not classified as “complete”. Green peas are a tasty side dish which is super easy to prepare.
About 1.1mg of zinc per 100g.
There are three main variants of quinoa: white, red, and black. They all taste amazing and are rich in protein, iron, and fibre. Plus, they are very low in fat and calories, so if you are trying to lose weight, consider replacing rice or other carbs with quinoa. This pseudo-cereal has recently become popular as it’s naturally gluten-free and comes with many health benefits.
11. Kidney beans
About 1mg of zinc per 100g.
The eleventh top vegan source of zinc is kidney beans: a cup gives you approximately a fifth of the recommended daily amount. The protein and fiber amount can help you reduce food cravings; moreover, carbohydrates in kidney beans are released slowly. Unless you overeat them, they will also help with digestion and gut health.
Table: best vegan sources of zinc
|Food||Zinc per 100g|