How To: Add Zinc into Your Diet Through Food

Feb. 14, 2021 —Amber Whittemore, RD, BSN, MHSc(c)

The focus of this week’s blog is all about how to add more zinc into your diet with food! We will be sharing recipe and snack ideas to help increase this essential trace mineral in your diet.  If you are curious about how zinc is related to mental health and wellness, head back to check out the first blog on zinc titled “Zinc: An Essential Mineral with Mental Health Benefits”!

A Brief Recap of Where Zinc is Found

Zinc can be found in a wide variety of foods, including:

  • Seafood such as oysters and crabs
  • Meat such as beef, pork, and chicken
  • Baked beans and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, cashews, and almonds
  • Whole grains such as fortified cereals and oats
  • Dairy products such as yogurt
  • Fruits and veggies such as avocado, berries, and pomegranate

Breakfasts to Increase Zinc

Fortified breakfast cereal with yogurt, sunflower seeds, and berries

1 serving—Offers ~6.7 mg zinc, or ~60% of the recommended daily intake


  • 1 cup of zinc fortified cereal (such as Kellogg’s)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup of berries
  1. Simply combine these ingredients for a delicious and zinc rich breakfast!

Oatmeal with almonds, raisins, pomegranate and maple syrup

1 serving—Offers ~2.0 mg zinc, or ~18% of the daily recommended intake


  • 1/2 cup dry instant oats
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
  1. Make the oatmeal according to instructions using milk, once cooked top with the remaining ingredients (almonds, raisins, pomegranate, maple syrup) and enjoy!

Entrees to Increase Zinc

Vegan baked beans served with veggie and starch of choice

4 servings—Each serving offers ~5.8 mg zinc, or ~50% of the daily recommended intake


  • 1/4 block of tempeh, ground
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small, sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper each
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 (22 ounce) cans baked beans
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat olive oil a large oven-safe pan over medium-low heat and add the tempeh, cook for ~5 minutes
  3. Then add in the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent, and peppers soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Then stir in the vinegar, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard and brown sugar/maple syrup until combined.
  5. Stir in the baked beans directly from the can. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  6. Place the oven-safe pan (or transfer to an oven-safe dish) in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove and let cool slightly before serving with your favourite starch and vegetable, enjoy!

Adapted from:

Beef roast served with roasted potatoes and carrots and celery

6-8 servings—1 serving offers ~8 mg zinc, or ~75% of the daily recommended intake


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 pounds (2 kg) chuck roast or blade roast, boneless and trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 pound (500 grams) baby potatoes, halved if needed into bite sized pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Season roast all over with the salt and pepper, then heat oil in a heavy based oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear until brown on all sides (about 4-5 minutes each side).
  3. Transfer roast to a plate for now. Sauté the onions until transparent, then add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beef broth and balsamic vinegar, scraping up any browned bits.
  4. Transfer roast back into the pot. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, mustard, brown sugar, and thyme.
  5. Bring to a simmer, cover with lid (or foil) and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender and falling apart. (Check roast after 1 1/2 hours. If the liquid has mostly been absorbed, stir in 1 cup of extra broth and continue cooking.)
  6. Transfer the roast, carrots, and potatoes to a large serving plate. With a large spoon, skim the excess fat off the surface of the cooking liquid and use the remaining liquid as your gravy.
  7. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Chickpea salad served with couscous or quinoa

4 servings —1 serving offers ~2.0 mg zinc, or ~18% of the daily recommended intake


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 large dates, pitted (optional)
  • 3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chickpeas, tomatoes, dates, cucumbers, red pepper, and parsley, mix well.
  2. Transfer to a serving platter and dollop with the goat cheese, sprinkle with mint, season with further salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Adapted from:

Snacks to Increase Vitamin D

Smoked oysters with crackers and cheese

1 serving—Offers ~74 mg zinc, or 670% of the daily recommended intake


  • 3 oz canned/smoked oysters
  • 1 serving of whole grain crackers
  • Cheddar cheese
  1. Enjoy all these items together for a very zinc rich and delicious snack!

1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds served with veggie sticks or a piece of fruit

Offers ~2.2 mg zinc, or ~22% of the daily recommended intake

Smashed avocado toast

1 serving—Offers ~1.14 mg zinc, or ~10% of the daily recommended intake


  • 1 slice of whole grain/multigrain toast
  • 1/2 an avocado, smashed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  1. Try smashing an avocado on top of a slice of whole grain toast, drizzled some olive oil on top, and finish with a few chilli flakes!

The Bottom Line

Zinc can be found in a variety of foods sources, from both animal and plant foods! Optimizing your zinc intake with the above foods and recipes can be one great way to start boosting your mental health through nutrition.