Zinc is an essential trace mineral and a component of over 100 enzymes,which are involved in numerous bodily functions including sperm production, night vision, appetite, sense of taste and smell, wound healing and maintaining a strong immune system. Zinc is widely distributed in foods, but is more bioavailable from animal products such as lean beef and lamb.
Beef and lamb provide an excellent source of zinc, providing at least 25% of the recommended daily intake for adults. Red meats, particularly offal cuts kidney and liver, are higher in zinc than poultry, cheese, grains, legumes or vegetables. Beef is one of the most commonly eaten sources of zinc in New Zealand.
The type of protein in foods such as beef and lamb promotes zinc absorption. This means zinc is more easily absorbed from meals containing meat. Plant foods such as grains and legumes contain phytates and dietary fibre, which inhibit zinc absorption, emphasising the importance of a diet with plenty of variety.