Foods high in zinc like salmon, cheese, nuts and seeds
Nutrition, Ingredients

How To Get Foods High In Zinc Into Your Diet

Written by: Swisse Wellness
Swisse Wellness

You might have heard about the importance of zinc and the role it plays in your wellbeing. This  mineral can impact your sight, smell and taste, your skin, thyroid function, how quickly your wounds heal, your immune system1 - just to name a few! So, if you’re looking for a way to give your body a helping hand, then paying attention to what foods are high in zinc and your potential zinc intake is a great starting point. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at foods containing zinc, as well as what foods may be impacting your zinc absorption levels. Let’s dive in!  

A quick look at zinc 

So, what makes zinc so important? This nutrient plays a role in many processes in our body. It helps maintain the structure of our proteins and regulate gene expression2 

While it’s important, a lot of us are missing out on our zinc. In fact, an average of one in three males and one in ten females are low in zinc in Australia3 

There are some factors that can impact your zinc intake. It’s suggested the elderly, people with celiac disease and those with inflammatory bowel diseases will have a harder time absorbing zinc4 in general. Then there’s dietary factors. Foods containing phytate, such as cereals, corn and rice, have been found to actually prevent our bodies from properly absorbing zinc4 

Ensuring you get the most from your zinc rich foods 

Our body can’t actually produce zinc, which means we need to get it from an outside source to maintain the right levels in our bodies5. One of the best ways to do this is to consume zinc in foods. 

By being aware of the number of foods with zinc you're eating on a daily basis, you can make sure your body is getting enough each day.  

Our bodies tend to absorb zinc better from animal-based foods than plant-based foods6. On the other hand, plant foods tend to be great sources of elements like iron and copper. That means those following a vegan or vegetarian diet will need to be a little more cautious about their zinc levels.  

It’s also suggested having normal levels of vitamin D in the body and eating foods with vitamin D, like fatty fishes, beef liver and dairy fortified with vitamin D, can help increase zinc absorption7 

What foods have zinc in a plant-based diet? 

So, what foods have zinc in them? If you’re on a plant-based diet, so only eating whole, plant-based foods, foods that have zinc you should look at eating regularly include8: 

  • Whole grains 
  • Tofu 
  • Legumes 
  • Nuts 
  • Fortified cereals 
  • Seeds like chia and flax  
  • Spinach 
  • Green peas 
  • Avocado 
  • Beans  

Foods rich in zinc for meat eaters 

As we know, meat-based foods with zinc6 in them have better absorption. Zinc rich foods for meat eaters (including dairy) include: 

  • Oysters  
  • Crab 
  • Red meat 
  • Prawns 
  • Poultry meat  
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy products like milk and cheese  

What healthy snack foods are high in zinc? 

For our snack-lovers, what food has zinc in it that tickles that afternoon snack-craving? Some zinc-rich foods to snack on include9 

  • Nuts like cashew nuts and peanuts  
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Cashews 
  • Pumpkin seed 
  • Chickpeas 
  • Oatmeal 

As with any dietary recommendations, it’s important to keep in mind nutrients that come from other food sources. So, a balanced diet is always recommended. If you have any specific concerns about your diet, it’s best to talk to your doctor.  

How do I increase my zinc levels? 

Learning which foods contain zinc is a great way to increase your zinc levels and make sure you’re meeting your dietary needs. Keeping a zinc foods list handy while you do your grocery shopping will help you keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with delicious, nutritional foods filled with zinc.  

However, sometimes it’s hard to meet all our requirements, which is where a supplement can help bridge that gap. Designed to help support immune health, skin and reproductive health, supplements can help you make sure you’re meeting your zinc needs.  

Should I take a zinc supplement? 

Taking a zinc supplement has many benefits, including increasing immunity function, and eye, heart and skin health1. Zinc can be found in standalone supplements, as well as in most multivitamins.  It’s always best to talk to your doctor and get your zinc levels tested before you start taking any supplement.  

If you want to know more about zinc, its link to the immune system and other immune-boosting foods, head over to the Swisse Wellness Hub.  


  1. Amos, A., & Razzaque, M. S. (2022, April 30). Zinc and its role in vitamin D function. NCBI. Retrieved May 6, 2024, from 
  2. Health N. Zinc | Eat For Health [Internet]. 2021. Available from: 
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015, March 6). Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12 financial year. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved May 6, 2024, from 
  4. Bo, L. (2023, January 6). Dietary Factors Influencing Zinc Absorption. ScienceDirect. Retrieved May 6, 2024, from 
  5. Maxfield L, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; 2019. Available from: 
  6. Hunt JR. Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2003 Sep 1;78(3):633S639S. 
  7. Amos A, Razzaque MS. Zinc and its role in vitamin D function. Current Research in Physiology. 2022 Apr; 
  8. Saunders AV, Craig WJ, Baines SK. Zinc and vegetarian diets. Medical Journal of Australia. 2013 Jun;199(S4).
  9. FoodData Central [Internet]. Available from:
Swisse Wellness

Swisse Wellness - Swisse Wellness

The copywriting team at Swisse Wellness plan, research and generate blog content with inputs from multiple teams across the business. With access to our industry-leading Science team, Product Development team, Customer Service team as well as informative Brand Managers, we have the contacts to deliver a well-rounded suite of blogs tailored to an array of wellness interests....

Nutrition, Ingredients