You can get copper from plant- and animal-based foods. This can include leafy greens and oysters.
Copper is a mineral that your body requires in small quantities to maintain good health.
It uses copper to form red blood cells, bone, connective tissue and some important enzymes.
Copper is also involved in the processing of cholesterols, the proper functioning of your immune system and the growth and development of babies in the womb (
Though it’s only needed in tiny amounts, it’s an essential mineral — meaning that you must obtain it from your diet because your body cannot produce it on its own.
It’s recommended that adults get 900 mcg of copper per day.
However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should get slightly more — 1 mg or 1.3 mg per day, respectively.
Here are 8 foods high in copper.
Organ meats — such as liver — are extremely nutritious.
They provide good amounts of many nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin (B2), folate (B9), iron and choline (2).
Liver is also an excellent source of copper.
In fact, one slice (67 grams) of calf liver gives you 10.3 mg of copper — a whopping 1,144% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) (3).
To add flavor and zest to liver, try pan-frying it with onions or mixing it into burger patties and stews.
However, the high amounts of vitamin A in liver can harm unborn babies. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid foods extremely high in vitamin A, including liver (
Liver is an extremely nutritious meat. Just one slice of calf liver boasts over 11 times the RDI for copper, as well as good amounts of other important nutrients.
Oysters are a type of shellfish often considered a delicacy. They can be served cooked or raw, depending on your preference.
This seafood is low in calories and high in many essential nutrients like zinc, selenium and vitamin B12.
In addition, oysters are a good source of copper, providing 7.6 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) — or 844% of the RDI (5).
You may be concerned about eating oysters and other shellfish due to their high cholesterol content.
However, unless you have a certain, rare genetic condition, dietary cholesterol found in foods like oysters is unlikely to significantly raise your blood levels of cholesterol (
It should be noted that high dietary intake of zinc can interfere with copper absorption, and because oysters are also very high in zinc, 154mg per 100g, this may interfere with the amount of copper absorbed (
Keep in mind also that raw oysters do carry a risk of food poisoning, so are not recommended for pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems (
Per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), oysters contain 8.5 times the RDI for copper. This low-calorie shellfish is also high in zinc, selenium and vitamin B12.
Spirulina is a powdered food supplement made from cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.
Once consumed by the ancient Aztecs, it reemerged as a health food after NASA successfully used it as a dietary supplement for astronauts on space missions (
Gram for gram, spirulina is extremely nutritious. A single tablespoon (7 grams) contains just 20 calories but packs 4 grams of protein, 25% of the RDI for vitamin B2 (riboflavin), 17% of the RDI for vitamin B1 (thiamine) and around 11% of the RDI for iron (11).
The same amount provides 44% of the RDI for copper.
Spirulina is often mixed with water to make a greenish beverage. However, if you don’t like its unusual taste, you can add it to stock, smoothies or cereal to disguise the flavor.
Spirulina, a dried supplement made from blue-green algae, is extremely nutritious — a single tablespoon (7 grams) gives nearly half of your daily copper needs.
Shiitake mushrooms are a type of edible mushroom, native to East Asia, that have a strong umami flavor.
Four dried shiitake mushrooms (15 grams) offer 44 calories, 2 grams of fiber and a host of nutrients, including selenium, manganese, zinc, folate and vitamins B1, B5, B6 and D (12).
This portion also knocks out an impressive 89% of the RDI for copper.
A handful of dried shiitake mushrooms packs nearly all of your daily needs for copper. They’re also rich in other important nutrients.
Nuts and seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition.
They’re high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, as well as a wide range of other nutrients.
Although different nuts and seeds contain different nutrients, many hold substantial amounts of copper.
For example, 1 ounce (28 grams) of almonds or cashews boasts 33% and 67% of the RDI, respectively (13, 14).
Additionally, a tablespoon (9 grams) of sesame seeds packs 44% of the RDI (15).
You can enjoy nuts and seeds as a standalone snack, atop a salad or baked into a bread or casserole.
Nuts and seeds — particularly almonds, cashews and sesame seeds — are good sources of copper. What’s more, they’re high in fiber, protein and healthy fats.
Lobsters are large, muscular shellfish which live on the seabed.
Their succulent flesh makes them a popular addition to soups and bisques, though they can also simply be served on their own.
Lobster meat is low in fat, high in protein and loaded with vitamins and minerals, including selenium and vitamin B12.
It’s also an excellent source of copper.
In fact, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of lobster contains a phenomenal 178% of the RDI (16).
Interestingly, though low in fat, lobster is also quite high in cholesterol.
However, dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels in most people, so the amount in lobster shouldn’t be a concern (
Lobster is a delicious seafood which is low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of copper, providing 178% of the RDI in a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are extremely healthy, boasting nutrients like fiber, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and folate in a minimal number of calories.
Many leafy greens contain sizeable amounts of copper.
For example, cooked Swiss chard provides 33% of the RDI for copper in a single cup (173 grams) (18).
Other greens have similar amounts, with a cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach also holding 33% of the RDI (19).
These greens can be enjoyed raw in a salad, cooked into a stew or added as a side to most meals to boost both their nutrient and copper content.
Leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach are extremely nutritious, copper-boosting additions to your diet.
Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of cocoa solids — as well as less milk and sugar — than regular chocolate.
Dark chocolate boasts antioxidants, fiber and several nutrients.
For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) bar of dark chocolate — with 70–85% cocoa solids — provides 11 grams of fiber, 98% of the RDI for manganese and 67% of the RDI for iron (20).
The same bar also packs a massive 200% of the RDI for copper.
What’s more, consuming dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet is linked to improvements in several heart disease risk factors (
However, take care to not overeat dark chocolate. It’s still a high-calorie food loaded with fat and potentially sugar.
Dark chocolate is a sweet treat that bestows a mix of beneficial nutrients, including copper. One bar alone may give you double your daily copper needs.
Copper — which is vital to your health — is found in a wide range of foods, from meat to vegetables.
Particularly good sources include oysters, nuts, seeds, shitake mushrooms, lobster, liver, leafy greens and dark chocolate.
To avoid a deficiency, be sure to include a variety of these sources in your diet.