10 Iron-Rich Foods You Need to Try (Especially if You’re Vegan)
By Kat Gal
When you are a vegetarian or vegan (or even eating plant-based), one of the first questions you will likely get is, “where do you get your protein?” The second and third questions will probably inquire about your calcium and iron intake.
While these questions may be annoying – it really is not so difficult to meet these needs eating a balanced, plant-based diet – they bring up a valid concern. Protein, calcium and iron are all very important – just like other macro- and micro-nutrients are.
Let’s examine iron.
Iron is an essential mineral in the human body that is one of the essential components of hemoglobin, the part of your red blood cells that allows the blood to carry oxygen throughout your body. Without enough iron, your body cannot make hemoglobin, which can lead to anemia. Anemia is a disorder that occurs when there isn’t enough hemoglobin in the blood.
The symptoms of anemia include:
- Feeling unusually tired all the time
- Feeling dizzy
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling cold
What leads to anemia?
Low levels of iron is the most common cause of anemia. It can also be caused by an iron-poor diet, increased needs of iron in the body (eg. pregnancy) or blood loss.
Women (because of blood loss during their period and childbirth), female endurance athletes, people over 65, people on blood thinner medication and people with kidney failure are at a high risk of getting anemia if not paying close attention to their intake.
However, you don’t have to be anemic to feel the consequences of low levels of iron.
Even being on the low-end of normal or just below normal levels, you may feel more tired than usual.
Anemia can be treated through a balanced diet and for some, the addition of supplements. Anemia can also be prevented by eating an iron-rich diet and paying attention to possible symptoms.
Since meat is traditionally thought to be the main source of iron, many people worry that vegetarians and vegans do not get enough iron. However, it is easy to find vegetarian sources of iron all day on a plant-based healthy diet.
Here are 10 iron-rich vegetarian foods to include.
1. Brussel Sprouts (Serving Size: 1/2 cup, 0.9 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 28 calories): Brussel sprouts are an excellent side dish or can be served as a great addition to steamed vegetable dishes.
2. Lentils (Serving Size: 1 cup, boiled, 6.6 milligrams of iron (37% DV), 230 calories): Lentils are excellent in soups, stews, indian dishes and spreads.
3. Pumpkin Seeds (Serving Size: 1 ounce (about a handful), 0.9 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 126 calories.): Pumpkin seeds are excellent additions to smoothies, salads and trail mixes, but are also a great snack just as they are.
4. Collard Greens (Serving Size (1 cup), 2.2 milligrams of iron (12% DV), 11 calories): Collard greens are not only great in salads and stir-fries but you can make collard green wraps, as my personal favorite.
4. Tahini (Serving Size: 1 tablespoon, 0.4 milligrams of iron (2% DV), 86 calories): Tahini is sesame butter that is a wonderful dip, a great addition to salad dressings and is perfect for sandwiches.
5. Black Beans (Serving Size: 1 cup (boiled), 3.6 milligrams of iron (20% DV), 277 calories): Think Mexican dishes: black beans are great for Mexican salads. Other beans are high in iron as well.
6. Raisins (Serving Size: 1/2 cup (packed), 1.6 milligrams of iron (9% DV), 247 calories): Raisins are a great snack, I find, but they are also excellent in cereal, trail mixes, salads and fruit salads. Just be conscious of the sugar content and be careful not to overindulge.
7. Dried Peaches (Serving Size: 1/4 cup, 1.6 milligrams of iron (9% DV), 96 calories): Dried peaches are a good snack and are a good addition to your breakfast. Dried apricots are also high in iron. Look for dried fruit with NO sugar added, or make your own.
8. Broccoli (Serving Size: 1/2 cup, 0.3 milligrams of iron (2% DV), 15 calories): Broccoli tastes perfect raw, lightly steamed, in soups and in stir-fries. You can juice them too.
9. Dark Chocolate (Serving Size: 100 grams, 6.3 milligrams of iron (35% DV), 578 calories): Chocolate doesn’t need an explanation. It’s good for your body and good for your soul in moderation. Go raw for added health benefits.
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
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