Food With Iron Vegetarian

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Welcome to our blog about Food With Iron Vegetarian, who don’t eat meat or other animal products due to health, ethical, or religious reasons. If you’re looking for practical advice and information on eating well as a vegan, you’re in the right place!

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Food With Iron Vegetarian

There is a misconception that a vegan diet is missing iron, however vegans are no more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia than the general population. Vegans typically consume an adequate amount of iron because their diet is high in vitamin C, which improves absorption of nonheme iron.

These 6 foods are great sources of vegan-friendly iron: 

1. Blackstrap molasses

Blackstrap molasses is the best source of nonheme iron. Only 2 tablespoon contains 7.2 milligrams of iron. Molasses contains higher amounts of sugar, so intake should be limited. 

2. Lentils

Lentils come in three varieties: brown, green, and red. Lentils are not only full of iron, but also high in potassium, fiber, and folate, a B vitamin. One cup contains 6.6 milligrams of iron.

3. Tofu/Tempeh

Tofu and tempeh soy-based products are an integral part of a vegan diet. Tofu has a higher iron content of 6.6 milligrams per half-cup. One cup of tempeh has 4.5 milligrams of iron. 

4. Spinach

One cup of cooked spinach contains 6.4 milligrams of iron. Adding spinach to meals, whether it’s sauteed in a dish, added to smoothies, or eaten raw, is an easy way of including more iron in your diet. 

5. Beans

Beans are a great source of iron. Kidney beans (5.2 milligram / cup), soybeans (4.5 milligrams / cup), and lima beans (4.5 milligrams / cup) have the highest iron content.  

6. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a green leafy vegetable rich in vitamins and minerals. This multi-beneficial vegetable can be steamed, sauteed, or eaten raw. But it’s less bitter when cooked. One cup of cooked swiss chard contains 4 milligrams of iron. 

Why You Need Iron

Your body needs iron to function properly. Too little will lead to an iron deficiency. Too much can cause iron poisoning. The average amount of iron a vegan needs is 32 milligrams per day for women and 14 milligrams per day for men. Vegans need up to 1.8 times more iron than people who eat meat. 

Iron plays an important part in proper bodily functions, including: 

Blood Production Health

Iron is found in red blood cells called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood from your lungs to your tissues. This improves your heart health, respiratory functions, and immune function. 

Physical Health

Your skin, hair, and nails appear stronger and healthier due to the synthesis of collagen, a protein needed for joint and skin health. Collagen is made by iron, a component of the enzymes essential for proper production. Iron is found in muscle cells. Called myoglobin, it helps muscles accept, store, and transport oxygen. 

Mental Health

Iron makes up certain proteins essential for energy metabolism. The right amount of iron improves general energy and increases focus. Low levels of iron can lead to an iron deficiency called anemia. The symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches

Top Foods High in Iron for Vegans

Iron is a mineral essential for proper growth and development. Your body uses it to make hemoglobin and certain hormones. Two types of iron are found in food: heme (animal-derived) and non-heme (plant-derived). 

Although it can be taken as a supplement, enough iron is available in our dietary sources. Vegans can find non-heme iron in dried beans and legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and wholegrain cereals and breads.

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body. Myoglobin, another protein made by iron, brings oxygen to your muscles. 

Why You Need Iron

Your body needs iron to function properly. Too little will lead to an iron deficiency. Too much can cause iron poisoning. The average amount of iron a vegan needs is 32 milligrams per day for women and 14 milligrams per day for men. Vegans need up to 1.8 times more iron than people who eat meat. 

Iron plays an important part in proper bodily functions, including: 

Blood Production Health

Iron is found in red blood cells called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood from your lungs to your tissues. This improves your heart health, respiratory functions, and immune function. 

Physical Health

Your skin, hair, and nails appear stronger and healthier due to the synthesis of collagen, a protein needed for joint and skin health. Collagen is made by iron, a component of the enzymes essential for proper production. Iron is found in muscle cells. Called myoglobin, it helps muscles accept, store, and transport oxygen. 

Mental Health

Iron makes up certain proteins essential for energy metabolism. The right amount of iron improves general energy and increases focus. Low levels of iron can lead to an iron deficiency called anemia. The symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches

Foods With Iron For Vegans

There is a misconception that a vegan diet is missing iron, however vegans are no more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia than the general population. Vegans typically consume an adequate amount of iron because their diet is high in vitamin C, which improves absorption of nonheme iron.

14 Vegetarian Foods That Have More Iron than Meat

Whether you’re a lifelong vegetarian or are actively transitioning to a non-meat diet, a common concern is making sure you still consume plenty of iron. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of iron for adults is 8-27 mg per day, with adult men tending toward the lower end, while older women and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding needing more.

While meat is often at the top of the list of recommended sources of iron, there are plenty of non-meat options that contain the same amount of iron, or more, than meat. So no need to give up on your vegetarian diet and reach for a burger (or a multivitamin)—these 14 foods will easily boost your iron intake.

Spinach

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Dark leafy greens, especially spinach, provide a powerhouse of iron. Three cups of spinach contain about 18 mg of iron—that’s more than an 8-ounce steak! You can meet your daily RDA of iron with just one hearty spinach salad. (Give this spinach-avocado caesar salad a try!)

Broccoli

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Not only is broccoli jam-packed with iron and other key nutrients like vitamin K and magnesium, it’s also high in vitamin C, which helps encourage iron absorption in the body. (And you may be surprised to learn that it’s quite good in smoothies.)

Lentils

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Just one cup of lentils has more iron than an 8-ounce steak. Lentils are also a solid source of dietary fiber, potassium, and protein. You can add lentils to your salad, or try soup—make it in bulk, then freeze the leftovers for later.

Kale

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Three cups of kale contain 3.6 mg of iron. Try this kale salad or this kale and lemon pizza.

Bok Choy

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Whether you steam or sauté this tasty Chinese cabbage, you’ll be getting a healthy dose of vitamin A, in addition to 1.8 mg of iron per cup.

Baked Potato

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One large baked potato contains nearly three times the amount of iron as a 3-ounce serving of chicken. Top it with Greek yogurt (a high-protein substitute for sour cream), steamed broccoli, and a bit of melted cheese for a tasty weeknight dinner.

Sesame Seeds

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Just one tablespoon of sesame seeds contains 1.3 mg of iron. And it’s super simple to incorporate them into your diet, too. Sprinkle sesame seeds over a salad for added flavor and crunch or mix them into a dressing, sauce, or salsa before pouring over a dish.

Cashews

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Nuts of all kinds are well-known protein sources for vegetarians, but cashews have the added benefit of being very rich in iron. One ¼-cup serving contains about 2 grams of iron. Not a fan of their nutty texture? Hide them in a smoothie to get the health benefits without the grit.

Soybeans

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A single cup of cooked soybeans contains between 8 and 9 mg of iron. These legumes are a great source of protein, too (they’re one of the 20 highest protein vegetarian foods). Just be sure to seek out organic soy products rather than conventional, which may be genetically modified.

Chickpeas

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One cup of chickpeas contains 4.7 mg of iron, more than half the daily RDA for an adult male. Roast them in a bit of olive oil for a crunchy snack, or mix them with tomatoes, feta, and cucumber to create a savory side dish.

Dark Chocolate

The benefits of dark chocolate seem endless. In addition to promoting healthier skin and teeth and reducing anxiety, dark chocolate also offers a sweet way to up your iron intake. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 2 to 3 mg of iron, more iron than in the same amount of beef.

Swiss Chard

Tofu

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A vegetarian staple for years, firm tofu boasts 3 mg of iron per half cup. There are countless recipes for using tofu, from a simple stir-fry to a sweet, homemade peach sorbet.

Kidney Beans

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Kidney beans contain 3-4 mg of iron per cup. Be sure to cook kidney beans to get the best flavor and texture. Kidney beans are the superstars of vegetarian chili, often acting as a hearty base ingredient in favor of meat options. Consider purchasing dried beans in bulk for a budget-friendly option.

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