Not eating enough foods high in zinc can lead to macular degeneration. This crucial mineral is one of those tricky nutrients that you need to keep an “eye” on in order to get enough each day. Other than oysters, there are few foods which by themselves provide adequate daily zinc. That’s why you need to plan ahead in order get your daily value (DV) of the nutrient. Sprinkle zinc-rich foods throughout your daily routine. That way, you’ll reap the mineral’s many health benefits, including lowering macular degeneration risks.
Foods High In Zinc You Should Eat To Prevent Macular Degeneration
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Oysters are the MVPs of the food world — especially for people who need extra zinc. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 3-ounce portion of oysters can provide almost five times the daily zinc you need. Of course, eating oysters every day could put you at risk of zinc toxicity. But since few people incorporate these shellfish into their daily diet, excess zinc from oysters isn’t a realistic concern. (You can also opt for a smaller portion.)
Oysters are also a great source of low-fat protein. They’re also one of the few non-fortified foods naturally high in vitamin D. The shellfish also boast high amounts of vitamin B12, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium.
If you have a reputable raw shellfish bar in your neighborhood, by all means, treat yourself to this delicacy. Or pick some up at the fish market and broil them with lemons and herbs, or include them in your seafood chowder. You’ll also find canned oysters at the grocers. This convenience item works well in casseroles and southern-style stuffing.
Crab and Lobster
Like their fellow shellfish — the oyster — crabs and lobsters are loaded with zinc. Alaskan king crab delivers more than 40 percent of your zinc DV; lobster and blue crab provide about 24 percent.
In addition to the high zinc content, a serving of either crab or lobster counts as a complete, low-fat protein. They’re also rich in vitamin B12, along with phosphorus, copper, and selenium.
Another thing lobster and crab have in common? They’re great both hot or cold. Enjoy them boiled with a bit of butter and lemon juice. Or include either seafood in bisques, stews or stir-fries. On a summer night, both crab meat or lobster meat make a refreshing protein to toss with a green salad. Or mix the chunks with a bit of yogurt or low-fat mayonnaise and seasonings, then serve them in hearty, healthy sandwiches.
Whole or ground beef are both good sources of zinc. A 3-oz. serving of chuck roast, for example, provides almost half of your zinc DV. A 3-oz. patty provides more than a third of the zinc you need each day.
Beef is also high in protein. Choose lean cuts to keep the saturated fat to a minimum. Along with zinc and protein, beef provides high amounts of vitamin B12 and phosphorus.
Ground beef has uses that go far beyond the classic burger. Serve the patties without a bun for a figure-friendly meal, when paired with veggies. Ground beef also works well in casseroles, hearty stews, and meatloaf. Regular beef has endless uses as a main course, from steak to pot roast. Cubed beef is also a classic ingredient in stews and chili. Sliced thin and chilled, beef makes an elegant salad topping.
The legume family is a large one, incorporating dried beans, fresh beans, and nuts. In terms of dried beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, and chickpeas are tops in the list of foods high in zinc. Both types provide about one-third of the zinc you need each day.
Beans are great sources of vegetarian protein. You’ll also get plenty of B vitamins from 1 cup of cooked beans, especially thiamin and folic acid. (Chickpeas additionally boast high amounts of B6.) Dried beans also top the list of mineral-rich foods. Aside from zinc, these legumes deliver high amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Kidney beans are tasty whether served hot, as a side dish, or cold in a three-bean salad. They’re also a staple in dishes like chili con carne and red beans and rice. Mashed together with salsa, kidney beans make a tasty spread.
Lima beans are also called butter beans. Serve them hot as a side dish with a bit of olive oil, or stewed with tomatoes. You can also incorporate them into a variety of hot soups, or with your cold three bean salad.
Most people associate navy beans with baked beans. That’s good news if you’re a fan of convenience foods high in zinc because canned varieties are readily available. In fact, grab a can of pork and beans. Pork is another of the zinc-rich foods to know.
Chickpeas are the main ingredient of hummus, which you can buy or make at home. These legumes, also known as garbanzo beans, are a staple of countless Middle Eastern main dishes and desserts. Of course, you can also dump a can of chickpeas into just about any dish that calls for beans, from cold salads to casseroles and stews.
Also in the legume family, nuts have several family members that are a good source of zinc. Choose peanuts, cashews, and almonds when specifically looking for foods high in zinc. They provide up to one-third of the zinc you need for the day when taken in 1 oz. servings.
Nuts are also important sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans. They provide the heart-healthy fats known as Omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll also get high amounts of fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, iron, and copper.
Raw, unsalted nuts make filling snacks. They’ll also add texture to vegetable side dishes. Steamed green beans and almonds are classics, as are broccoli and cashew stir-fries. You probably have your favorite brownie, cookie, or muffin recipe that includes one these nuts.
There are no real rules when it comes to incorporating nuts into either sweet or savory dishes. Mix and match as you please with these zinc-rich legumes!
Like beans and nuts, seeds are also in the zinc-rich legume group. Sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds each provide 15 to 20 percent of your zinc DV. Because their sizes are so different, pumpkin and sesame seeds aren’t usually substituted for one another in recipes.
Both legumes are great sources of plant-based protein. Both are rich in minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Pumpkin seeds are additionally high in vitamin K, while sesame seeds deliver extra thiamin.
You can find raw or roasted pumpkin seeds at the health food store, sometimes labeled as “pepitas.” But it’s also fun to roast your own after Halloween is over! They’re great as a snack on their own, especially if you’ve seasoned them with herbs and spices while roasting. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over salads instead of croutons, or float them in spicy soups.
Tiny sesame seeds blend well with both savory or sweet dishes, especially baked goods. Scatter them over bread, cakes, and muffins before baking. Or rub them over fish or chicken skin before setting under the broiler.
You’ll also find a wealth of seed butter spreads, cooking oils, and salad oils that all help up your zinc intake.
What if you don’t like most foods that are high in zinc? Fortified foods can step in to fill the gap. Depending on the brand, a breakfast cereal fortified with zinc provides 25 to 100 percent of the amount your body needs for the day. Look at the packaging on instant oatmeal, raisin bran, “Wheaties” and other healthy adult cereals, as well as kids’ cereals. Many are fortified with zinc and other nutrients and tell you the DV of zinc on the package label.
If you find it hard to choke down cereal in the morning, or just don’t like cold breakfast, you can still incorporate these zinc-rich products. Add granola cereal to your lunchtime yogurt. Alternatively, pulverize flakes or squares of fortified cereal in a food processor briefly, then add to baked goods. If the cereal bits are sweet-tasting, they’re ideal for replacing part of the flour in a muffin recipe. Or mix the pieces with a bit of simple syrup to top a crumb cake. Less sweet high-zinc cereals can even top savory casseroles, in place of greasy potato chips.
Find out what are the symptoms of zinc deficiency in this video from Dr. Josh Axe:
A family history of eye disorders can put you at risk for macular degeneration. So can obesity, heart disease, and getting older. A nutritional supplement containing zinc might be needed, along with improving your diet. Keep in mind, however, an excess of zinc also leads to serious problems, including neurological damage. Your medical team can analyze your diet, order blood tests, and recommend a specific meal plan. When buying packaged zinc-rich foods, read the nutrition label carefully to determine the portion size for adequate zinc. With fresh, unpackaged food, consult the USDA website for typical zinc DVs and recommended serving sizes.
What foods high in zinc would like to include in your diet each every day? Share them in the comments section below!