Want to cut out on red meat, but wondering if you will end up depriving your body of iron? This is a cause of worry for many vegetarians and vegans. Red meat is traditionally thought of as the main source of iron. So the vegetarians need to find different sources of iron to help them reach their recommended amount every day. Fortunately, there are many iron rich foods which are not only delicious but also easy-to-prepare and are vegetarian-friendly.
Iron is a vital mineral for our body as it is used to transport oxygen to all our body parts. A minor deficiency in iron can cause anemia (fatigue/weakness), and a constant deficiency of iron in the body can lead to organ failure. But at the same time, too much iron leads to production of harmful free radicals in our bodies that interfere with our metabolic system and can damage organs like heart and liver.
Iron rich foods for vegetarians
People often have this misconception that vegans & vegetarians suffer from iron deficiency. In fact, they have tons of options for iron-rich foods in such as fruits, vegetables, beans, grains etc. Most of these vegetarian food items also contain other important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. So if you add these iron-rich foods in your diet you can improve your overall health in a great way.
1. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts is something which all of you must have hated it as a kid, but now when you learn how healthy they are, you can’t resist them. Brussels sprouts are a brilliant source of iron and helps in preventing fatigue and other symptoms related to deficiency of iron. Apart from being rich in iron they also contain antioxidants, vitamins, folate, and fiber.
Like all the other dried fruits, raisins are an excellent source of iron. You can easily add a handful of these delicately sweet treats to your cereal, yogurt and oatmeal. You can also combine them with other foods that contain vitamin C. This way your body can absorb the iron much easily.
Lentils not only contain iron but are packed with other vitamins and nutrients as well such as proteins and essential amino acids. Also these legumes are easy to cook. They are traditionally used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, but you can use them to spice up your soups, stews and pastas.
One of the best ways to get more iron in your diet is to opt for dried fruit instead of fresh which are considered to be one of the best iron rich foods. Dried fruits contain more nutrients, including iron. Dried peaches are not only a wonderful breakfast companion but can serve as a delicious addition to salads or as a great snack in your busy day. A serving of dried peaches contains about 9% of your daily recommended iron. An added advantage is that it does not contain much sugar and calories.
This is another superfood full of proteins, unsaturated fat, fiber, and lots of iron. A single cup of boiled soybeans contains almost half the recommended daily dose of iron for your body. Another wonderful thing about soybeans is their flexibility. You can use them to your liking – add them to your soup or make a yummy meal out of them!
Arugula has many health benefits and a low calorie count. It is a great source of iron for the vegetarians. Add few servings to your diet every week and improve the health of your red blood cells. You can enjoy it as a salad or in soup or as your pizza topping.
7. Black Beans
Black beans loaded with fiber, protein, and iron are not only good for your health but also not heavy on your purse. They satisfy hunger and also give an energy boost that lasts for hours. One-cup of black beans cover 20% of your daily recommended intake of iron.
One of the most adaptable foods on Earth, brown rice has high iron content and is rich in fiber. It also helps in releasing toxins from the body. Being a rich source of iron it helps to fight anemia and fatigue. Cook brown rice with your preferred beans or veggies for an iron-rich meal that will keep you full for hours.
With astounding amounts of calcium, high amounts of vitamin A, and many cancer-fighting elements, what’s not to love about collard greens? You have another reason to love these veggies – it contains high levels of iron and Vitamin C. To get the most out of these iron rich foods, eat them as salad.
Spinach is at the top of the superfoods that contains many vitamins and nutrients. It is a great source of iron. And since it also contains Vitamin C, your body can easily absorb all the iron present in it. Cooked spinach provides greater amounts of iron.
Sesame butter which is also known as tahini can give your body tremendous amounts of iron. It is a brilliant addition to your diet that will help you reach your daily needs of iron.
If you are suffering with iron deficiency then adding oatmeal to your diet can do wonders. Just a half-cup serving is packed with almost two mg of iron. It also contains many other nutrients and is considered to be a very healthy breakfast. You can also use oats to make other recipes.
One of the most versatile foods and loved by almost everyone, potatoes are one of the best iron-rich foods for vegetarians. As they are also packed with vitamin C, it makes it easy for the body to absorb the iron content present in it. Potatoes work as a side dish and also as a main course, so combine it with your favourite veggies to make delicious recipes.
14. Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are an affluent source of iron. One cup of these iron rich foods make up for your quarter of daily recommended iron needs. As they are rich in Vitamin C, they have many other health benefits as well.
Apart from their mouth-watering taste, one of the best things about sun dried tomatoes is their high iron content. One cup contains almost 30% of your daily iron needs. They are also rich in healthy lycopene, antioxidants, and vitamin C. Add them to your diet the way you want and get a health boost!
All of you know that dark chocolate is good for your heart. But do you know that it’s loaded with iron? A 100 gram of dark chocolate contains around 35% of your daily recommended iron needs. But of course, it should be consumed in moderate quantities
Fresh and cooked peas are one of the best iron rich foods. They also contain many other nutrients. You can incorporate them into your favourite meals. Half a cup of these green veggies provides about 7% of the daily iron intake.
Ramp up your daily iron needs with fresh strawberries. They contain both iron and Vitamin C. Strawberries make a great breakfast dish, they are also fabulous as an afternoon smoothie, and you can also serve them as a sweet after dinner.
Iron Content of some Foods
|Blackstrap molasses||2 Tbsp||7.2|
|Lentils, cooked||1 cup||6.6|
|Spinach, cooked||1 cup||6.4|
|Bagel, enriched||1 medium||6.4|
|Chickpeas, cooked||1 cup||4.7|
|Lima beans, cooked||1 cup||4.5|
|Black-eyed peas, cooked||1 cup||4.3|
|Swiss chard, cooked||1 cup||4.0|
|Kidney beans, cooked||1 cup||3.9|
|Black beans, cooked||1 cup||3.6|
|Pinto beans, cooked||1 cup||3.6|
|Turnip greens, cooked||1 cup||3.2|
|Prune juice||8 ounces||3.0|
|Quinoa, cooked||1 cup||2.8|
|Beet greens, cooked||1 cup||2.7|
|Veggie hot dog, iron-fortified||1 hot dog||2.7|
|Peas, cooked||1 cup||2.5|
|Bok choy, cooked||1 cup||1.8|
|Bulgur, cooked||1 cup||1.7|
|Apricots, dried||15 halves||1.4|
|Veggie burger, commercial||1 patty||1.4|
|Kale, cooked||1 cup||1.2|
|Sunflower seeds||1/4 cup||1.2|
|Broccoli, cooked||1 cup||1.1|
|Millet, cooked||1 cup||1.1|
|Soy yogurt||6 ounces||1.1|
|Tomato juice||8 ounces||1.0|
|Sesame seeds||2 Tbsp||1.0|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||1 cup||0.9|
So all you vegetarians out there – be happy as there are many iron rich foods available for you!