When it’s time for lunch, reach for nutrient-rich foods. In addition to lunch foods with vitamins A, C, D and E and minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium, choose ones highest in zinc. Zinc is needed for a healthy immune system. It also helps maintain the senses of taste and smell.
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RDA of zinc.The recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for zinc vary depending on a person’s age, sex and medical condition. According to the National Institutes of Health, men ages 19 and older generally require 11 milligrams daily, while women ages 19 and older need 8 milligrams.
Lunch foods highest in zinc include several meats, cheeses and vegetables that can be enjoyed as a side dish. Each zinc value is provided through the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) nutrient database.
- Beef patty:The traditional hamburger, a lunchtime staple, offers an ample amount of zinc. A 1/4-pound patty, broiled, has 4.86 milligrams. Eat it on a whole-grain hamburger bun (.45 milligrams of zinc) with a slice of cheddar cheese (.87 milligrams of zinc.)
- Beef short ribs:Feeling a bit hungry? Fill up with braised beef short ribs. A 3-ounce portion has 4.15 milligrams of zinc.
- Chicken: One cup of chopped chicken (dark meat) can be served on a sandwich or in a salad, or mixed with low-fat mayo, sliced grapes and chopped walnuts for a delicious chicken salad. The 1 cup serving has 3.92 milligrams of zinc.
- Ham: A lunch meat sandwich is easy to fix, tasty to eat and a source of zinc if you choose 96 percent fat-free ham. Three slices have 1.13 milligrams of zinc. Enjoy the ham on a piece of whole wheat bread containing .50 milligrams of zinc.
- Hot dog (beef): A single (1.7 ounces) beef hot dog or frankfurter contains 1.03 milligrams of zinc. A turkey dog about the same size has .83 milligrams of zinc.
- Pork chop:Whether eaten on a sandwich or on its own, a broiled center loin pork chop (3 ounces) has 1.82 milligrams of zinc.
- Cottage cheese:A side of low-fat cottage cheese pair well with a ham sandwich and has .86 milligrams of zinc per 1 cup serving.
- Peas: Vegetables are a healthier choice over many fried side dishes at lunchtime. One cup of canned peas provides 1.74 milligrams of zinc.
- Swiss cheese:Top a ham sandwich or beef patty with a slice of Swiss cheese. One slice of Swiss (1 ounce) has 1.22 milligrams of zinc. If Swiss is not your favorite, try a slice of mozzarella with .83 milligrams of zinc per 1-ounce slice.
Incorporating zinc-rich foods into your lunchtime menus can be a healthy part of your daily diet. Always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.