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23 High Zinc Foods for Vegans and Vegetarians

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
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23 High Zinc Foods for Vegans and Vegetarians

Zinc is an essential nutrient required by the body for creating over 300 enzymes, and it is the most abundant metal in the body after iron.

Health benefits of zinc include enhanced immune function, reductions of the common cold, and faster wound healing. Beyond this, zinc is vital for the proper functioning of the human body in general.

Zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, impotence, diarrhea, delayed wound healing, abnormal taste, and mental fatigue.

Vegans and vegetarians need to be especially aware of zinc since zinc availability is lower in plant foods than animal foods. Further, the amount of zinc found in vegetables and other plant foods can vary greatly depending on how much zinc is in the soil where they were grown.

Do phytates harm zinc absorption?

While phytates, which are present in whole-grain breads, cereals, and legumes, do somewhat inhibit absorption of zinc, these foods are still a good source of zinc. Vegans and vegetarians should be aware of this and aim to consume 200% of the DV to compensate for the bioavailability of zinc.

Vegan and vegetarian sources of zinc include fortified cereals, wheat germ, tofu, hemp seeds, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal, wild rice, squash seeds, and milk. The daily value for zinc is 11mg per day.

Below are 23 vegan and vegetarians foods high in zinc, for more, see the articles on high zinc nuts, high zinc fruits, and high zinc vegetables. You can also create your own list using the nutrient ranking of over 200 vegetarian foods high in zinc.

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List of Vegetarian Zinc Foods

1Fortified Cereals
A bowl of bran flakes
2 Toasted Wheat Germ
Photo of wheat plants
3 Firm Tofu
A block of tofu
4Hemp Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Not sure how to use hemp seeds? Sprinkle them on top of cereal, salads, or oatmeal.
See the top 10 nuts and seeds high in zinc.
See the nutrient ranking of all beans and lentils high in zinc.
6Low-Fat Yogurt
Plain yogurt with raspberries
7 Oatmeal
A bowl of oatmeal with blueberries
8Wild Rice
Wild Rice
-13% DV zinc in 1 cup of brown rice.
See the nutrient ranking of grains high in zinc.
9 Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)
Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
10 Milk
Glass of milk
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11 Quinoa
A bowl of quinoa
12 Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms
13 Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
Black Beans
14Green Peas
Green Peas
15 Spinach
A Bowl of Spinach
16 White Button Mushrooms
17 Lima Beans
Lima Beans
18 Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds
19 Pecans
20 Avocados
Half an avocado
21 Swiss Cheese
A slice of swiss cheese
22 Flax Seeds
Flax Seeds
23 Asparagus

See All 200 Vegetarian Foods High in Zinc

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View more food groups with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
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