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Discover Zinc: Common Foods in Nigeria’s Markets

Last Updated on November 20, 2023


Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and well-being.

With its numerous functions in the body, obtaining an adequate amount of zinc is crucial for optimal bodily functions and preventing various health problems.

Brief Explanation of Zinc’s Role in the Body

Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, contributing to the proper functioning of the immune system, cell growth and division, DNA synthesis, wound healing, and proper sense of taste and smell.

It also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against damage from harmful free radicals.

Overview of Zinc Deficiency and Its Impacts

Zinc deficiency can have severe consequences on overall health.

It can impair immune function, leading to increased susceptibility to infections and delayed wound healing.

In children, zinc deficiency can cause growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, and cognitive impairments.

Pregnant women with inadequate zinc intake are at risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Transition to Focus on Nigeria’s Food Market

Nigeria’s food market is rich in various zinc-rich foods that can help combat zinc deficiency.

With an abundance of diverse fruits, vegetables, legumes, and animal-based products, there are ample opportunities to incorporate zinc-rich foods into the Nigerian diet.

Incorporating these foods into daily meals can provide an adequate amount of zinc and help prevent zinc deficiency.

Examples of zinc-rich foods commonly found in Nigeria’s markets include pumpkin seeds, beef, chicken, oysters, dark chocolate, sesame seeds, spinach, and beans.

In essence, understanding the importance of zinc in our diet and being aware of the role it plays in our body is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being.

With Nigeria’s vast food market, it is feasible to incorporate zinc-rich foods into daily meals, promoting a healthy and balanced diet for all individuals.

Read: From Farm to Plate: Trace Minerals in Nigerian Grown Foods

List of common foods in Nigeria’s markets that are rich in zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining good health.

It is involved in numerous physiological processes, including immune function, DNA synthesis, and cell division.

In Nigeria, there are several common foods available in local markets that are rich in zinc.

These foods not only provide an adequate amount of zinc but also offer additional health benefits.

Description of each food item, its zinc content, and any additional health benefits it offers

1. Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Rich in zinc: Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, with about 7.64 mg per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: They are also packed with antioxidants, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health and promote better sleep.

2. Beef

  1. Rich in zinc: Beef is a significant source of zinc, containing approximately 7.18 mg per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: It is a high-quality protein that helps build and repair tissues, boosts muscle mass, and supports immune function.

3. Lamb

  1. Rich in zinc: Lamb is another meat that provides a good amount of zinc, with around 4.25 mg per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including iron and vitamin B12, which are essential for red blood cell production and brain function.

4. Cashews

  1. Rich in zinc: Cashews, a popular nut in Nigeria, contain about 5.6 mg of zinc per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: They are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals, promoting heart health and aiding in weight management.

5. Chickpeas

  1. Rich in zinc: Chickpeas are a good plant-based source of zinc, providing around 2.76 mg per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: They are high in fiber and protein, thus promoting digestive health, weight management, and blood sugar control.

6. Sesame Seeds

  1. Rich in zinc: Sesame seeds are a rich source of zinc, containing approximately 7.75 mg per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: They are packed with antioxidants, promote healthy skin, reduce inflammation, and support bone health.

7. Oysters

  1. Rich in zinc: Oysters are renowned for their high zinc content, with approximately 16.6 mg per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and iron, promoting brain health and preventing anemia.

8. Spinach

  1. Rich in zinc: Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that contains about 0.53 mg of zinc per 100 grams.

  2. Additional health benefits: It is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, supporting eye health, reducing blood pressure, and boosting digestion.

Availability and affordability of these foods in local markets

These foods are readily available and affordable in Nigeria’s local markets.

From the protein-rich beef and lamb to the nutritious pumpkin seeds and spinach, there are plenty of options to add to your diet.

Whether you prefer meat, nuts, or vegetables, you can easily incorporate these foods into your meals to ensure an adequate intake of zinc and other essential nutrients.

In short, Nigeria’s local markets offer a wide array of common foods that are rich in zinc.

These foods not only provide an adequate amount of zinc but also offer various other health benefits.

Incorporating them into your diet is an excellent way to maintain good health.

So, the next time you visit your local market, make sure to include these zinc-rich foods in your shopping list!

Read: Eating for Bone Health: Calcium-Rich Foods in Nigeria

Discover Zinc: Common Foods in Nigeria’s Markets

Highlighting the Versatility of Zinc-Rich Foods in Nigerian Cuisine

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions.

Thankfully, Nigerian cuisine offers a diverse range of zinc-rich foods that can easily fit into your daily diet.

In this section, we will explore the versatility of these zinc-rich foods, mention popular dishes that incorporate them, and provide recipes and cooking suggestions to preserve their zinc content.

Nigeria’s markets are bustling with a variety of foods that can boost your zinc intake.

From meat and seafood to legumes and grains, there is no shortage of options.

Incorporating these foods into your diet not only ensures a good supply of zinc but also adds flavor and diversity to your meals.

1. Popular dishes that incorporate these foods

Some common zinc-rich foods in Nigerian cuisine include:

  1. Beef: A staple in Nigeria, beef is not only an excellent source of protein but also packed with zinc.

  2. Seafood: Fish and shellfish like mackerel, oysters, and prawns are not only delicious but also high in zinc.

  3. Legumes: Foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas are not only rich in zinc but also provide a good amount of fiber.

  4. Grains: Whole grains like brown rice and oats can help boost your zinc intake while providing other essential nutrients.

  5. Nuts and Seeds: Snacking on almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds can be a tasty way to increase your zinc levels.

  6. Leafy Greens: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and cabbage are not only nutritious but also a good source of zinc.

2. Popular Dishes That Incorporate Zinc-Rich Foods

Nigerian cuisine is known for its rich and flavorful dishes.

Many traditional recipes incorporate zinc-rich foods in creative and delicious ways. Here are a few popular dishes:

  1. Jollof Rice: This iconic Nigerian dish combines the goodness of rice, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices, often with the addition of chicken or beef.

  2. Egusi Soup: Made with melon seeds, spinach, and assorted meats, this soup is not only delicious but also a great source of zinc.

  3. Moin Moin: This steamed bean pudding is a protein-packed dish made with black-eyed beans, onions, peppers, and spices.

  4. Pepper Soup: A flavorful soup made with various meats, fish, or vegetables, it is often infused with a blend of aromatic spices.

  5. Afang Soup: This traditional Nigerian soup features a blend of vegetables, including leafy greens like waterleaf and ukazi, cooked with palm fruit extract and protein.

3. Recipes and Cooking Suggestions to Preserve the Zinc Content

To make the most of these zinc-rich ingredients, here are some recipes and cooking suggestions:

  1. Zinc-Rich Stir-Fry: Stir-fry your favorite vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and cabbage, with beef or seafood for a quick and nutritious meal.

  2. Bean Salad: Combine cooked beans, diced tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and a sprinkle of lemon juice for a refreshing and zinc-packed salad.

  3. Seafood Jollof Rice: Add a twist to the classic jollof rice recipe by incorporating seafood like prawns or mackerel for added zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

  4. Grain Bowl: Cook a batch of whole grains like brown rice and quinoa and top them with roasted nuts and seeds for a wholesome zinc-rich meal.

  5. Leafy Greens Smoothie: Blend spinach, kale, or cabbage with fruits like bananas and berries for a nutrient-packed smoothie with an added zinc boost.

In general, Nigerian cuisine offers a variety of zinc-rich foods that can easily be incorporated into your daily diet.

From traditional dishes to creative recipes, there are numerous ways to enjoy these ingredients while preserving their zinc content.

So, head to Nigeria’s markets, explore the flavors, and let these zinc-rich foods take your meals to the next level of both taste and health.

Read: Magnesium Sources: Nigeria’s Healthiest Staples Explored

Addressing concerns or challenges related to sourcing or consuming zinc-rich foods in Nigeria

Zinc is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions.

It is involved in cell growth, immune function, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Luckily, Nigeria’s markets offer a wide variety of foods rich in zinc.

However, some people may have concerns or face challenges when it comes to sourcing or consuming these foods.

Let’s address these concerns and provide solutions:

1. Availability of zinc-rich foods

Despite the wide variety of foods available in Nigeria’s markets, finding zinc-rich foods can sometimes be challenging.


To ensure you have access to zinc-rich foods, consider visiting local farmers’ markets or specialty stores that prioritize nutritious produce.

Moreover, planting and growing zinc-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, and seeds in your own backyard can provide a sustainable source of these nutrients.

2. Affordability

In some cases, the cost of purchasing zinc-rich foods can be a concern for individuals with limited budgets.


Look for budget-friendly options like beans, lentils, and whole grains, which are excellent sources of zinc and are generally more affordable.

Consider purchasing in bulk or during seasonal sales to maximize savings while still ensuring a steady supply of zinc-rich foods.

3. Dietary restrictions or preferences

Individuals with dietary restrictions or preferences may find it challenging to incorporate zinc-rich foods into their meals.


Fortunately, there are alternatives and variations available to cater to various dietary needs:

Vegetarian or vegan
  1. Zinc-rich plant-based options include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fortified cereals.

  2. Experiment with recipes that combine different plant-based sources of zinc to create balanced and delicious meals.
  1. Quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat are excellent gluten-free sources of zinc.

  2. Incorporate these grains into your diet by substituting them for gluten-containing grains like wheat or barley.
Lactose intolerant
  1. Look for zinc-rich alternatives to dairy products, such as fortified plant-based milk, tofu, almonds, and dark chocolate.

  2. These options provide essential nutrients while avoiding lactose-related discomfort.

4. Encouragement to explore and experiment:

Finally, it’s important to encourage readers to embrace zinc-rich foods in their diet and experiment with new flavors and recipes. Here’s why:

  1. Zinc is vital for maintaining overall health, supporting proper growth and development, and boosting the immune system.

  2. Try incorporating zinc-rich foods into your daily meals through simple recipes like salads, stir-fries, or smoothies.

  3. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with different spices and cooking techniques to enhance the taste of these foods.

  4. Remember, every small step you take towards integrating zinc-rich foods into your diet can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

In review, while there may be concerns or challenges related to sourcing or consuming zinc-rich foods in Nigeria, there are always solutions available.

By exploring different markets, being conscious of budget-friendly options, and adapting to specific dietary needs, you can ensure a steady supply of zinc in your diet.

So, go ahead and embrace the abundance of delicious zinc-rich foods available in Nigeria’s markets!

Read: Traditional Nigerian Drinks and Their Mineral Contents


Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in overall health.

Nigeria has a wide variety of zinc-rich foods available in its markets.

It is important to prioritize your zinc intake to maintain optimal health.

Take advantage of the diverse food market in Nigeria to ensure you are meeting your body’s zinc needs.

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