If you haven't heard too much about zinc health benefits, expect that to change very soon. Recent research has found that zinc may help protect against oxidative stress, which is one of the main causes of aging and low life expectancy. And here's where it gets interesting: Zinc can actually team up with some of your favorite desserts and drinks to do so.
A November 2018 research paper published in Nature Chemistry found that zinc can protect against the superoxide responsible for oxidative stress when it's taken together with a component found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. This component is basically a group of substances that make these goodies taste and smell delicious. But on a deeper level, this same component can also be activated by zinc to provide defense against the bad superoxide — which comes from human cell respiration and is linked to the aging process, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Researchers emphasized that coffee, chocolate, and tea alone would not be able to break down the superoxide — these delightful decadences would need to combine with zinc to be effective. As you may be aware, zinc is an essential mineral that we require to stay healthy anyway. It's been linked to immune function, wound healing, and proper growth and development, according to the National Institutes of Health. So it's exciting to know that zinc could potentially play a role in helping us live longer, too.
"It is certainly possible that wine, coffee, tea or chocolate may well become available in the future with added zinc," said lead researcher Ivana Ivanovi-Burmazovi, PhD, in a press release. "However, any alcohol content whatsoever would destroy the positive effects of this combination."
How to Get More Zinc in Your Diet
Considering how new this research is, it's understandable that products like chocolate and coffee with added zinc aren't on the market quite yet. However, there are still easy ways to add more zinc to your diet while continuing to enjoy your beloved beverages and desserts.
According to the National Institutes of Health, oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food — a whopping 74 mg — so that's probably the easiest way to get a quick boost. But don't fret if you're not a shellfish fan; certain meats such as beaf patties, beef chuck roasts, and pork chops also include substantial amounts of zinc. Additionally, some breakfast cereals are fortified with healthy heapings of zinc. In general, healthy adult women are recommended to consume 8 mg of the mineral per day. If you're concerned that you're not getting enough zinc from your diet, talk to your doctor about trying out some zinc supplements.
In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for more tasty food with added zinc in the grocery store — especially if it's chocolate!