Zinc is one of the essential nutrients that play a major role in many of the body functions. Since our body cannot produce it naturally, we may have to obtain zinc from the foods we eat or through supplements. Zinc is very essential for many processes in our body, including immune function, gene expression, DNA synthesis, wound healing, growth and development, protein synthesis, and enzymatic reactions.
Many of the plant and animal foods that we consume daily contain zinc and other essential minerals. Some foods are even fortified with synthetic forms of zinc. As a vegan, you cannot eat animal foods to get an adequate amount of zinc you need daily. You may have to look for plant-based foods to fulfill your daily requirements of zinc.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the health benefits and plant-based sources of zinc.
Enhances Your Immune System
One of the main advantages of zinc is that it helps in boosting your immune system. This is mainly because zinc is very essential for the functioning of immune cells and cell signaling. Decreased consumption of zinc may lead to a weakened immune response. A recent study has shown that taking 80-92 mg of zinc each day can help in reducing the length of the common cold by 33%. Also, taking zinc supplements will help in reducing the risk of infections significantly.
Promotes Faster Wound Healing
Zinc can accelerate the healing of wounds, which is one of the main reasons why it is commonly used in hospitals for treating certain ulcers, burns, and other skin injuries. This is mainly because of the role of zinc in the synthesis of collagen, inflammatory response, and immune function. All of these are essential for proper wound healing. A study looked at people suffering from diabetic foot ulcers who consumed zinc daily. The study has found that taking zinc daily helped in reducing the ulcer size significantly.
Helps To Treat Acne
One of the most common skin problems that we face is acne and statistics show that around 9.4% of the population is affected by acne. This common skin condition occurs as a result of excess oil production, bacterial infection, and inflammation. Zinc is very helpful in reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of acne. It can also inhibit the growth of bacteria and reduces the secretion of excess oil.
Reduces The Risk of Age-Related Diseases
Many studies have proven that zinc plays an important role in reducing the risk of several age-related diseases, like infections, pneumonia, etc. Zinc has the ability to boost the activity of T-cells and natural killer cells, and improve your immune response and oxidative stress. Both T-cells and natural killer cells are helpful in preventing infections. Studies have shown that older adults who take zinc supplements daily have a lower risk of pneumonia.
One of the main advantages of zinc is that it helps in decreasing oxidative stress and reducing inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation is a major contributing factor in many health problems, such as cancer, heart disease, mental decline, etc. Several studies conducted over the years have proved the ability of CBD in reducing the inflammatory markers in your body.
Here is the list of some of the plant foods that you can include in your plant-based meal, which has a higher amount of dietary zinc.
Almost all types of legumes are packed with a high amount of zinc. If you are a vegan, including legumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas in your diet will help in fulfilling your daily zinc requirement. They are also a good plant-based source of fiber and protein. It is important to note that legumes contain phytates that may inhibit the absorption of zinc. Therefore, you have to soak, sprout, or boil legumes before you eat them.
Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, etc. are very rich in zinc. They also contain several other healthy nutrients that are beneficial for your body. Nuts are packed with fiber, which is very essential for your digestive health. Some of the recent studies are showing that people who eat nuts daily will live longer than those who don’t.
Seeds are very beneficial for your health and a great addition to your plant-based diet for increasing the intake of zinc. Around 31-43% of the daily intake of zinc is present in just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds. Some other seeds that contain a significant amount of zinc are pumpkin, squash, and sesame seeds. Adding these seeds to your daily diet will help in reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Some of the whole grains that are packed with zinc are rice, quinoa, wheat, and oats. Whole grains also contain several other healthy nutrients, such as magnesium, B vitamins, fiber, phosphorous, manganese, iron, and selenium. Increased intake of whole grains is very helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.