Zinc is number 30 on the periodic table of elements, meaning that it’s both prominent in our world, and useful to scientific inquiry. A metal at room temperature, zinc is an element that has been absorbed into the metabolisms of most living things, and in fact we can’t live without it.
Zinc is present in many foods, meaning that you probably have some in your diet, whether you realize it or not. However, it’s possible to be low in zinc, which could affect, among other things, the delicate balance of your immune system.
Without getting too far into the details, zinc affects many different aspects of immunity, including the very production of immune cells such as natural killer cells. These cells have a tough name, and for a good reason – without them, our bodies couldn’t destroy numerous pathogens, leaving us open to all kinds of illness.
There are tests available to learn about levels of zinc in your body. If you’re found to be low in this vital element, your primary care physician can work with you to help you recover. In addition to this, there are some natural foods that contain high levels of zinc that may be a good idea as part of a healthy diet.
Legumes like lentils are some of the world’s best sources of dietary zinc. Unless you live in Canada or India, you’ve likely not seen a lentil in the wild. These tiny seeds grow in pods, and have been part of South Asian cuisine (among others) for many generations. A cheap staple food, lentils are high in protein and, of course, zinc. Use them as a base for grain salads, in soups, or ground into powder for inclusion in various traditional Indian flatbreads.
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans as they are sometimes called, are primarily grown in the plains states, at least in America. Firm and toothsome when cooked, chickpeas can be eaten on salads, pickled for a flavor boost in many meals, or can serve as the base ingredient for falafels. You can even grind chickpeas and use them as flour for gluten free bread! Versatile and nutritious, chickpeas are also a great way to get your zinc.
There are numerous plant seeds that are great for dietary zinc. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds all make the list, and with so many ways to use each one, there’ll definitely be an easy way to incorporate one or another into your diet. Pumpkin seeds can be baked and salted for a tasty snack or salad topping. Chia seeds can be used in baking or in various tonic beverages. Sunflower seeds are another healthy snack or can be used as an extra crunchy ingredient.
Tofu and Tempeh
There are many reasons to get to know tofu and tempeh – natural protein sources that don’t involve animals. Tofu and tempeh can be marinaded to take on any flavor profile you enjoy, then baked, fried, or grilled to perfection.
You can use these foods as meat substitutes for many recipes, and they’re just as happy topping salads or going into various vegetarian and vegan recipes that have now become classics. They’ve got loads of zinc, too!
If you feel that you’re already maxing out your dietary zinc, it may be time to consider supplementation. We can specifically recommend three products:
Check out the ingredients in each product and where they source zinc from to decide which one is right for you. Each of the above brands has been carefully vetted before appearing on the Professional Supplement Center store to ensure that shoppers have access to the products that promote health and wellness each day.