Copper is an important dietary mineral that plays a key role in performing bodily functions. It is needed by your body in trace amounts and is vital for maintaining optimal health. Many foods are high in copper, and it is a readily available mineral. Foods including wide varieties of fruits, vegetables, and meat can offer copper. This mineral helps support brain health, improves immune system function, promotes energy levels, and helps in red blood cell production. This article explores the foods rich in copper and their benefits. Keep reading.
In This Article
Foods High In Copper
Oysters are saltwater shellfish that are highly nutritious. Cooked oysters have exceptional amounts of copper. While oysters are available in various types, the Eastern oysters are the richest in copper. These contain 4,800 micrograms of copper per every 100-gram serving (1). Oysters are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that help keep the heart healthy and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (2), (3), (4).
Note: Don’t consume raw oysters as they can cause infections in humans (5).
Lobsters are large, muscular shellfish that also are expensive. They are rich in copper and also contain protein, vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium. They are low in saturated fat but very high in cholesterol. They contain 2.8 mg of copper per every 145-gram serving (6).
3. Organ Meat
Organ meat is a rich source of copper. Beef liver is considered extremely nutritious and is the richest dietary source of copper. Other sources like calf and chicken livers are also good sources of copper. They also provide many other nutrients like folate, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Organ meat contains about 10.1 mg of copper per slice (7).
4. Seeds And Nuts
Many seeds and nuts are rich in copper. Sesame seeds are high in fiber, fats, and protein. They contain 5.9 mg of copper per 1 cup (8). Cashew nuts contain 0.6 mg of copper per ounce (28 g) (9). You can eat cashews raw, add them to hot and cold dishes alike, or soak them overnight to use as a base for dairy-free spreads, cheeses, and dips. Almonds also are high in copper. Dry, roasted almonds (without salt) contain 1.6 mg of copper per serving (one cup) (10).
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. It is known to lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce cholesterol levels (11), (12), (13). However, dark chocolate is also high in calories and must be consumed in moderation. One bar of dark chocolate contains 1.8 mg of copper (14).
6. Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine. These edible mushrooms are the most popular type around the world. They are packed with many health-boosting properties and are rich in texture and flavor. 100 grams of shiitake mushrooms contain 5.16 mg of copper (15).
Spirulina is a biomass of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that is highly nutritious and rich in copper (16). It is low in calories and is a great addition to healthy beverages, like smoothies. It is also used as a powdered food supplement by astronauts (17). One cup of spirulina contains 6.8 grams of copper (18).
Beans are another excellent source of copper. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, offer 0.4 mg of copper per one cup (19). Boiled soybeans are also rich in copper – they offer 0.2 mg of copper with every cup (20).
A medium-sized potato contains about 0.34 mg of copper (21). However, remember to cook your potatoes with their skins on (the skins contain the most copper). Sweet potatoes also contain copper – one medium-sized sweet potato contains 0.13 mg of copper (22).
10. Kale, Swiss Chard, And Spinach
Green leafy vegetables like raw kale, Swiss chard, and spinach are high in copper. One cup of raw chopped kale contains 0.2 mg of copper (23). Swiss chard, when cooked, provides more than 0.16 mg of copper per 100 grams (24). One cup of raw spinach contains more than 0.03 mg of copper (25). Spinach is also rich in fiber, folate, vitamin K, zinc, and iron.
Quinoa is a whole grain with a lot of health benefits. It can be a great rice substitute and is a good source of copper in your daily diet. You can get 0.4 mg of copper for every cup of cooked quinoa (26).
Also, eating a single avocado will provide you with approximately 0.28 mg of copper (27). Gluten-free buckwheat and tofu are other excellent sources of copper. Buckwheat is a good alternative for grains. One cup of buckwheat contains 1.87 mg of copper (28). One piece of fried tofu contains 0.1 mg of copper (29).
These are the top copper-rich foods you should try. Copper is one of the lesser-known trace minerals our body needs. In the following section, we look at its many health benefits.
What Are The Benefits Of Copper?
1. May Enhance Brain Health
Your brain has the highest levels of copper in your body. Copper imbalances can affect brain functions (30). Copper deficiency during growth may lead to incomplete brain and nerve development. Low copper status may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (31).
2. May Promote Energy Maintenance
Copper plays an important role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (32). ATP is known as the energy currency of the cell. Copper helps reduce anemia that may otherwise affect energy levels. Some research suggests that deficiency (and an excess) of copper may lead to anemia (33).
3. May Improve Immune Health
Copper and zinc are the two essential trace minerals for optimal immune health (34). Low quantities of these minerals may increase your body’s vulnerability to bacterial infections. Copper deficiency decreases the production of immune cells, like macrophages and neutrophils that help fight several infections in the body (35).
4. May Support Metabolism
5. May Boost Skin Health
Copper protects the cells against free radical damage and improves skin health. It can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, and enhance wound healing. It promotes collagen production in the body and boosts skin elasticity (38).
6. May Protect Vision
Oral administration of copper (along with zinc) may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (39).
These are the major benefits of copper. Having adequate copper in your diet is paramount. In the following section, we look at what a copper deficiency can cause.
A copper deficiency may be a leading cause of ischemic heart disease (IHD). Copper deficiency increases the total cholesterol and oxidized lipoproteins in the blood, leading to IHD (40). Individuals with copper deficiencies showed abnormalities in blood pressure levels and lipid metabolism. The deficiency may also lead to cardiovascular disease (41). Dietary copper deficiency can also cause anemia, inflammation, and reduced blood clotting (42).
Copper deficiency usually occurs due to inadequate dietary copper intake, decreased copper stores at birth, and poor absorption. The deficiency may cause bone issues, anemia, and a weak immune system (43).
You should take copper in the recommended amounts to avoid deficiency issues. How much copper does your body need? Let’s find out in the following section.
How Much Copper Does A Human Body Need?
Our bodies cannot produce copper on their own. Hence, we need to get the mineral from our diet. Copper requirements increase with age. Adults usually should get 900 micrograms of copper every day (44).
Copper is a trace mineral responsible for performing various bodily functions. Its benefits range from improving brain health and skin health to enhancing immunity and metabolism. However, this mineral is not synthesized by your body, so it must be obtained through dietary means. So, consume foods high in copper like oysters, lobsters, organ meat, seeds and nuts, spirulina, beans, potatoes, and spinach to prevent a copper deficiency, which can cause ischemic heart disease, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, anemia, and reduced blood clotting. So, consume at least 900 mcg of copper a day to keep these health conditions at bay.
- Copper is an essential trace mineral because it supports brain and skin health while boosting immunity and vision.
- You can replenish your copper reserves in the body by consuming oysters, kale, and beans.
- The deficiency of copper may cause cardiovascular disease, anemia, inflammation, and reduced blood clotting.
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- Oysters, steamed
- Long-Chain Omega-3 Oils–An Update on Sustainable Sources
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Summary of the 2016 Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality Evidence Review
- Fish, shellfish, and long-chain n-3 fatty acid consumption and risk of incident type 2 diabetes in middle-aged Chinese men and women
- Raw oysters can be a risk for infections
- Crustaceans, lobster, northern, cooked, moist heat
- Veal, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, pan-fried [calf liver]
- Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, dried
- Nuts, cashew nuts, raw
- Nuts, almonds, dry roasted, without salt added
- Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: the Zutphen Elderly Study
- Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials
- Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder
- Candies, chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids
- Mushrooms, shiitake, dried
- Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications
- Characterization of Spirulina biomass for CELSS diet potential
- Seaweed, spirulina, dried
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, canned
- Soybeans, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
- Potato, boiled, NFS
- Sweet potato, NFS
- Kale, raw
- Chard, swiss, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
- Spinach, raw
- Quinoa, cooked
- Avocado, raw
- Tofu, fried
- Metabolism and functions of copper in brain
- Alzheimer’s disease as copper deficiency
- Role of Copper in Mitochondrial Biogenesis Via Interaction with ATP Synthase and Cytochrome c Oxidase
- The association between serum copper and anaemia in the adult Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II) population
- The Role of Copper and Zinc Toxicity in Innate Immune Defense against Bacterial Pathogens
- Partners in crime: neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages in inflammation and disease
- Copper regulates cyclic-AMP-dependent lipolysis
- Human copper transporters: mechanism, role in human diseases and therapeutic potential
- Using Copper to Improve the Well-Being of the Skin
- Reduced zinc and copper in the retinal pigment epithelium and choroid in age-related macular degeneration
- Copper deficiency may be a leading cause of ischaemic heart disease
- Cardiovascular disease from copper deficiency–a history
- Copper deficiency and cardiovascular disease: role of peroxidation, glycation, and nitration
- Essentiality of copper in humans