Even if the phrase "A banana a day keeps the doctor away" hasn't found a place in the lexicon of food-related rhymes, bananas can improve your health. This yellow fruit is not only versatile, but it's also packed with vitamins and minerals. Among the banana's minerals is zinc, which can positively affect your health in several ways. Bananas alone, however, won't provide you with enough zinc to meet your daily needs.
Zinc's Role in Your Health
According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc plays a helpful role in strengthening your immune system to help you fight off viruses and bacteria. Zinc also contributes to the production of protein and DNA, speeds up your body's healing process and contributes to your ability to smell and taste accurately. This mineral is pivotal in the healthy growth of babies in the womb and as they progress through childhood and adolescence.
Recommended Zinc Intake
Your body doesn't store zinc, which means you need to consistently consume this mineral to ensure its ability to do its job. Adult males should consume 11 milligrams of zinc per day, while adult females should consume 8 milligrams of zinc per day. If you're pregnant, aim for 11 milligrams per day, and if you're lactating, consume 12 milligrams of zinc per day.
Bananas Aren't Enough
Although bananas contain zinc, eating a single serving of the fruit doesn't play a major role in helping you work toward your recommended zinc intake. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database, a 7-inch banana contains just 0.18 milligram of zinc. A 9-inch banana contains a slightly higher amount of the mineral, but only 0.23 milligram.
Animal Products Provide Zinc
It's not practical to attempt to solely eat bananas to reach your recommended intake of zinc. Instead, supplement your diet with zinc-rich foods such as beef, pork or chicken. Three ounces of braised beef chuck roast has 7 milligrams of zinc, while 3-ounce servings of a pork chop and dark chicken meat have 2.9 and 2.4 milligrams of zinc, respectively. If you don't eat meat, focus on foods such as baked beans and low-fat yogurt. A 1/2-cup serving of baked beans has 2.9 milligrams of zinc, and an 8-ounce serving of yogurt has 1.7 milligrams. Supplements can also help you boost your zinc intake.