When people think of iron in relation to food, red meat and seafood come to mind, but these are not the only sources. Many plant-based foods, including legumes, vegetables, and nuts and seeds, all contain iron. Plant-based foods contain non-heme iron, while animal-based foods contain heme iron. Although the body can easily absorb heme iron, it is not essential to the human diet, according to surveys.
Failure to consume a sufficient amount of iron can lead to shortness of breath, headaches, anemia, fatigue, or irritability. In regards to iron consumption, the recommendation for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher when compared to meat eaters. Iron is a key component of blood production, and the recommended daily intake (RDI) for the average adult is 18 milligrams (mg) per day.
In this article, we’ll detail the best iron-rich foods that vegetarians should eat. Continue reading to learn all about these excellent sources of iron.
Spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, and beet greens all contain 2.5-6.4 mg of iron per cooked cup, on average. 100 grams of spinach contains 1.1 times more iron than the same amount of red meat and 2.2 times more than the same amount of salmon. Because raw leafy greens are very light, some people find it difficult to consume 100 grams. For this reason, nutritionists encourage people to cook and eat them for regular iron intake.
Hearts Of Palm
Most people are familiar with this tropical vegetable in its canned form, but you can purchase it raw. Hearts of palm contain manganese, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, folate, and a surprising amount of iron, with one cup containing about 26% of the RDI. Because hearts of palm are so versatile, it’s easy to incorporate them into your diet.
Lentils are excellent sources of iron, providing 37% of the RDI of iron per cooked cup. Additionally, their protein and fiber content makes them healthful food options. For instance, the same cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein, in addition to complex carbs, folate, and manganese.
Amaranth is a nutritious gluten-free grain that has recently gained popularity in the health world, despite its history as a staple food for millennia. In fact, amaranth was a primary source of nutrition for the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. One cooked cup of amaranth provides 5.17 mg of fiber and 9 grams of protein. Additionally, a 2012 research review found that amaranth exhibited anti-tumor effects and was able to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
This may come as a surprise to you, but potatoes contain significant amounts of iron, with the most concentrations in their skin. One large sweet potato contains about 12% of the RDI of iron, while a large Idaho potato offers 18% of the RDI. Because of their fiber content, many nutritionists recommend people include potatoes as part of a healthy diet.
Although seeds are small, they are mighty in regards to nutritional benefits. Pumpkin, hemp, sesame, and flax seeds are among the seeds with the highest iron content. On average, the iron content in two tablespoons of these seeds ranges from 7-23% of the RDI. Seeds are also rich in other important minerals like zinc, magnesium, and selenium, in addition to essential fatty acids.
From cashews and pine nuts to almonds and macadamias, nuts are great sources of non-heme iron. On average, one ounce of nuts contains between 6-9% of the RDI of iron. Similar to seeds, nuts are excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. Blanching or roasting nuts may diminish their nutritional content, so opt for raw varieties to get the most nutrients.