The human body is a well-oiled machine, working long hours uninterruptedly, in every season. It does not winch under the brutal onslaught of fate and climate. Like soldiers on a well-trained and disciplined system. However, there is a whole lot of effort that goes on behind the scene to keep this intricate work of art moving. Intrinsic to it is the fuel that helps it run. The nutrients that fire up the engines of life, the organs, are sacrosanct to its functioning. It then becomes imperative for us to maintain a steady supply of such, in order to keep ourselves fit. A healthy body is, in fact, a manifestation of all the good things that are fed to it. One such component is Zinc and in this article, we are going to discuss, at length, how it affects the human body and what are the best zinc-rich foods available in India.
The Role Of Zinc In Our Body
It is important to know that zinc is not produced naturally by the human body. Hence it has to be supplemented through the intake of a proper diet. Zinc is an essential cog in the wheel to facilitate numerous biological processes such as synthesis of protein, healing wounds and cuts, DNA synthesis, building up immunity and overall growth and development of the body.
One would be surprised to know that Zinc is the second most abundant mineral found in the human body, right after Iron. And there are reasons which make it a vital component.
Zinc helps in the daily activities of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion and nerve functions among other processes.
The immune cells which act as a barrier against diseases ow their vitality to the presence of Zinc. You ow your glowing skin to the adequate presence of Zinc in the body as well as DNA synthesis and the production of protein.
Hence, the overall growth and development of a human body rely a whole lot on the presence of zinc, since cell growth and division which are the primary processes are dependent on it.
Another important function of Zinc is its role in facilitating smell and taste. One of the enzymes which are crucial for this function depends on the presence of Zinc in the body.
Now we know the functions of Zinc. There are numerous benefits that Zinc orchestrates in order for the body to function effectively.
Zinc Health Benefits
Boosts the Immune System
A weak body will attract the gravest of diseases and without a proper wall of protection, the body will succumb. The immune system acts as the protective wall, shielding the human body against such calamities. Zinc helps keep the immune system strong. Different studies have shown that a supplement of 80 to 92 mg per day of Zinc reduces the common cold by up to 30%.
In older adults, Zinc reduces the risk of infections and promotes better immunity.
Helps accelerate healing of wounds
If you have ever been on the wrong end of an accident, you would have experienced treatment using medicines containing Zinc. It is an effective mechanism used to treat burns, ulcers and other skin injuries. The main reason why Zinc is used for the purpose is that it helps in collagen synthesis. It also plays a critical role in stabilising and improving immunity and response to inflammation. All these lead to proper healing.
You would be astonished to know that the skin is one of the largest repositories of Zinc, in the human body. It holds up to 5% of the whole Zinc content available for proper functioning.
A 12-week study in the US on a group of 60, suffering from diabetic foot ulcers, 200 mg of Zinc per day dosage was provided to one set. The one which received such a dosage showed a greater reduction in the size of the ulcer compared to the ones who weren’t.
Deaccelerates age-related diseases
Zinc significantly reduces the risk of several age-related diseases particularly pneumonia, infections and muscular degeneration. It helps the body release oxides and overcomes oxidative stress which in turn boosts the secretion of T cells and the natural killer cells hence improving the overall immunity of the body.
In older adults, an improved response to influenza vaccination was observed after being prescribed with Zinc supplements. This, in turn, helped the body fight disease like pneumonia and boosted mental health.
It was also observed that an intake of 45 mg of Zinc supplement per day reduced infection rates by over 66%.
Zinc also helped reduce vison loss and acute muscular degeneration when taken in combination with Vitamin E, Vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Treatment of Acne
Acne affects everyone. We all have acne in some form or the other. It has been estimated that over 10% of the world population suffers from it. Acne occurs due to a variety of reasons, namely when the oil-producing glands are obstructed. People with a chronic acne problem have seen to have lower levels of Zinc. Supplements containing zinc, therefore, are prescribed for treatment. This effectively reduces inflammation, inhibits the growth of P. acnes bacteria and suppresses the activity of the oil-producing glands.
Fight against Inflammation
Oxidative stress is the primary cause of inflammation. Zinc helps in reducing the oxidative stress and promote better immunity against it. Oxidative stress is one of the reasons for chronic heart diseases, cancer and poor mental health. A regular intake of 45mg of Zinc supplement in older adults helped reduce inflammatory markers.
Related: 10 Vitamin A rich foods in India
List of Foods Rich in Zinc in India
One of the best ways to supplement Zinc is through dietary methods. Food is one of the best sources of Zinc and a proper diet needs to be prepared to counter any shortfall. Let’s take a look at the best zinc-rich foods available in India.
For vegetarians, dairy products are a rich source of Zinc. Yoghurt being the primary of them. 250 gms of it will contain almost 1.5 mg.
DV% – 10
Mushroom is a powerhouse vegetable. It not only contains an adequate amount of zinc but also a host of other nutrients. 85 gms of mushroom is said to contain almost 3 mg of the mineral.
DV% – 20
Popeye had a reason for being such a spinach fan. The vegetable is a veritable treasure house of minerals. 100 gms of Spinach contains 0.8 mg of Zinc.
DV% – 12
When it comes to minerals, no one can beat the ubiquitous cereal. It is not just rich in Zinc but every other possible mineral. Bran, whole grain and multi-grain cereals are rich sources of Zinc. However, since it also contains Phytates, considering only cereals to relinquish zinc levels will not be a great idea. 85 mg of cereal contains 5.8 mg of Zinc.
DV% – 39
If you had to consider nutrition coupled with taste, then brown rice would definitely make a mark. It not only serves the purpose of fulfilling Zinc levels but also Vitamin C and antioxidants. Brown rice is also the source of extra potassium and other nutrients. 195 gms of brown rice contains 1.2 mg of Zinc.
DV% – 8%
All those midnight cravings were not just for nothing. Probably the body wanted more zinc. Chocolate is a rich source of the mineral. Dark chocolates are a greater source as compared to milk chocolates. Dark chocolates also contain anti-oxidants and are low on sugar. 100gms of dark chocolate will contain 10mg of zinc. One dark chocolate is recommended per day.
DV% – 39
Like cereals, there is no substitute for fruits. Fresh Pomegranate provides 1mg of zinc. Avocados are miracle fruits. A cup of blackberries contains .08mg whereas raspberries 0.5 mg. 201 gms of avocados contain 1 mg of Zinc.
DV% – 12
Another food source rich in nutrients, kidney beans should be included in every dietary plan. In fact, kidney beans are a great alternative to meat. 184 gm of kidney beans contains 2.79 mg of zinc.
DV% – 34
Garlic, like kidney beans, is a great source of nutrients. Zinc is one of them. Garlic is also known to help reduce cholesterol and fight cardiovascular diseases. 50 gms of garlic contains 1.16 mg of zinc.
DV% – 11
A rich source of Zinc and Omega 3 fatty acids, Peanuts also add flavour to your favourite sandwich. 146 gms of peanut has 3.27 mg of zinc.
DV% – 32
Chicken is low on cholesterol and high on protein. It is rich in vitamin B6 and niacin, along with zinc. 41 gm os chicken will provide you with 0.8 mg of zinc.
DV% – 52
Pumpkin seeds are not just rich in Zinc but phytoestrogens too. They help in improving cholesterol levels. 64 gms of Pumpkin seeds contains 6.6 mg of zinc.
DV% – 44
The breakfast just got more interesting. Oats is a popular breakfast meal and it is not just delicious but enriching too. Other than zinc, it is also a rich source of beta-glucan, which helps regulate cholesterol levels. 156 gms of oat contains 6.2 mg of zinc.
DV% – 41
While it is advisable to not overindulge in egg yolk, especially if one is a patient of high cholesterol, as a food egg yolk is enriching. Other than zinc, it also contains Vitamin A, D, E and K. The yolk is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids. 243 gms of egg yolk contains 5.60 mg of zinc.
DV% – 37
We mentioned peanuts, how can almonds be then left behind. Almonds are the most popular of the nuts. It is also a rich source of Vitamin E, which protects cells from damage. 95 gms of Almonds have 2.9 mg of zinc.
DV% – 20
High in fiber, chickpeas are a staple diet in many communities. It helps regulate high blood pressure and cholesterol. 164 gms of chickpeas contain 2.5 mg of zinc.
DV% – 17
Rounding off with the third nut, cashews are rich in iron and copper. They help the body form red blood cells and enhance circulation. 28 gms of cashews contain 1.6 mg of zinc.
DV% – 11
Related: Best Zinc Supplements in India
Zinc, as we have seen, is of primary importance, in fact, after Iron, Zinc plays an important role in the complete development of the human body. It is essential for us to, therefore, to strike a balance in our dietary routine to include Zinc as an important component. The above-mentioned list of zinc-rich foods will give you an idea of what to buy when out grocery shopping the next time.