Been taking zinc tablets since COVID-19 became a reality? Switch it up with these natural sources of the mineral
All the reasons why you should have zinc in your diet. Plus, recipes to help you get started
Our immune system is designed in a way such that it can fight off foreign cells to protect us against various allergies and illnesses. As COVID-19 continues to rage through the world, it is emphasised, time and again, to boost immunity through diets or supplements. Apart from vitamin C and D, zinc is an important nutrient that has been identified as essential for our immune systems.
Zinc is associated with many biological functions in the human body and is involved in multiple cellular processes. It plays a key role in protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division, for instance.
Nutritionist and health expert Dr. Asmita Sawe explains that, "Zinc is an essential nutrient, which cannot be stored or produced by our body. For this reason, we must get a constant supply through our diets (8-11 mg a day)." She adds that the need for this is even more magnified during the pandemic, because it plays a pivotal role in producing protein, which in turn, helps our body produce immune cells, like T-cells and white blood cells. "Zinc also stimulates the activity of 100 to 300 different enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes. As such, without the proper intake of zinc, we would leave our bodies susceptible to diseases and illness."
And while it has become the norm to take zinc supplements during the last one-and-a-half years or so, it is possible to up our zinc intake naturally too. So, we compiled a list of foods that can help you incorporate the nutrient into your daily diet.
1. Whole Wheat
Eating more whole grains is an easy way to make your diet healthier. Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants and traces minerals like iron, zinc, copper and magnesium. While the quantity of zinc is not high, it serves as an important source because of the regularity with which we consume it. You can begin eating whole grain breakfast cereals and wholewheat bread as well, alongside healthy wholewheat seed crackers which you can consume as a snack.
This bivalve is a zinc powerhouse that packs in 5.5 mg per raw oyster. That means one oyster gets you 50 percent of the recommended amount of zinc—making them an excellent source of the mineral. The shellfish is also low in calories (only 7 calories per oyster) and is packed with other valuable vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and selenium. Try oysters cooked, canned, or on the half-shell—no matter how you serve them, you're in for a tasty treat and possibly, a stronger immune system too.
Mushrooms may lack the deep green or brilliant red hues consumers have come to associate with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, but they are a powerhouse of nutrition. Low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain a modest amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including zinc. Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants and are believed to protect cells from damage and reduce chronic disease and inflammation. A cream of mushroom soup is pretty quick and painless to whip up. Add some herbs and you're good to go.
Quinoa is a grain crop that has edible seeds. It is gluten-free, a good source of minerals, protein, iron and zinc. Quite versatile, it can be used as a substitute for several things like rice and rava. It can also be incorporated in healthy dishes, like salads. A Mexican salad recipe combines the health benefits of quinoa with the essential vitamins, minerals and fibres present in fresh vegetables like onion, tomatoes and cucumber.
Bajra is a type of pearl millet and is considered to be extremely nutritious. It is rich in magnesium, potassium and zinc and is widely consumed in India, most commonly, in the form of bajra roti. It is a healthier alternative to regular rotis and when garnished with butter, can make for a simple yet delicious meal.
This article provides general information and discussions about health, nutrition and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.