Zinc is one of the important minerals essential for the proper functioning of the human body. It is necessary for carrying out most of the important body functions. Zinc promotes the health of your immune system and helps with wound healing. It also aids to maintain your senses of taste and smell sharp.
Zinc is especially crucial during infancy, childhood, and pregnancy for facilitating proper growth. This mineral is also important for the functioning of all of the enzymes produced in the human body.
Your body won’t store zinc, so you will have to acquire enough amounts of this nutrient through your daily diet. Major sources of zinc are meat and dairy products. Hence, people who follow vegan meal plans should take great care to achieve adequate amounts of zinc to avoid various problems caused by its deficiency.
If you do not get enough amounts of zinc, it can lead to a lot of health issues. Some of the problems caused by zinc deficiency are:
- Appetite loss
- Delayed healing
- Poor immune function
- Difficulty tasting properly
- Hair loss
So if you do not include enough zinc sources in your diet, it can deteriorate your health.
People who follow a vegan diet should be careful to include various sources of zinc in their diet. You can get supplements for this mineral. But this is not always a healthy approach. Fortunately, there is a lot of plant-based foods that are high in zinc for vegans to choose from. These foods can offer your daily requirements of this important nutrient. The following are some of the best plant-based zinc sources that you can include in your vegan recipes:
Different legumes like lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc. carry substantial levels of zinc. 100 grams of cooked lentils can offer you 12% of the DV for zinc.
But a problem associated with legumes is that they carry compounds called phytates that are found to interfere with nutrient absorption. These compounds can inhibit the absorption of zinc and many other minerals present in legumes thereby reducing nutrient bioavailability.
Therefore, it is important for you to reduce the levels of these compounds for facilitating the proper absorption of the nutrients. It is possible for you to eliminate a huge amount of phytates from legumes by methods like soaking, cooking, sprouting, and fermenting. This can help to increase the absorption of nutrients and boost their bioavailability.
In addition to providing high amounts of zinc, legumes can also offer a large number of other nutrients like B vitamins, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorous, and zinc. They are also a good source of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates and are low in fat. Hence, they create a great option to include in your vegan meals for getting a wide array of nutrients.
Seeds are some of the healthiest options to add to your diet and they can also help to boost the intake of zinc. The amount of zinc present in seeds can greatly differ based on the variety. Some seeds can have more zinc content when compared to others.
For example, just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds can provide about 31% and 43% of the required daily intake of zinc for men and women respectively.
Many other seeds like squash, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. are also a good source of zinc. Apart from zinc, seeds can also offer high amounts of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which makes them an excellent option to add to your everyday meals.
Including seeds in your daily diet is also associated with a large number of other health benefits like reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. You can add various seeds into a variety of recipes like soups, salads, yogurts, etc.
Similar to seeds, nuts also create an impressive addition to your vegan meal plans because of the enormous number of health benefits they offer. These foods are a great source of various nutrients including zinc. Some other healthy nutrients in nuts are fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, calcium, etc.
The amount of zinc present in different nuts can vary. Cashew is a good source of zinc. Other nuts can also offer certain levels of this mineral.
Nuts create a convenient and quick snacking option for you and these plant-based foods are linked to a reduced risk of some health conditions like heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, etc., which makes them a healthy option to include in your diet.
Some whole grains like rice, quinoa, wheat, oats, etc. can also provide you certain levels of zinc. But like legumes, these foods also carry phytates which can prevent the absorption of zinc.
When compared to whole grains, refined grains only have a very small amount of zinc. So it is better to go for products made of whole grains instead of refined grains.
These plant foods are also a great source of many other crucial nutrients like fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, manganese, phosphorous, and selenium. Therefore, include these foods in your diet for getting high amounts of zinc which is important for carrying different body functions.