16 Stunning Iron Rich Foods for Vegetarians & Vegans
Many vegetarians and vegans worry about getting enough iron in their diet. Since meat is traditionally thought of as the main source of iron, vegetarians need to find different sources to help them reach their recommended amount of iron each day. Fortunately, there are several delicious and easy-to-prepare options that are both rich in iron and vegetarian-friendly.
1. Brussels Sprouts
You may have resisted Brussels sprouts as a kid, but they’re hard to resist once you learn just how healthy these tasty veggies are. Brussels sprouts are a viable source of antioxidants, vitamins, folate, and fibre. Plus, they’re an excellent source of iron and an obvious choice in helping to prevent fatigue and other symptoms of iron deficiency.
Like other dried fruits, raisins are nutrient-dense treats that contain large amounts of iron. It’s easy to add a handful of these subtly sweet treats to your cereal, yoghurt, oatmeal, or salads as part of a balanced diet. To get the most out of your next handful of raisins, combine them with other healthy foods containing vitamin C. This will make it easier for your body to absorb the iron found in raisins.
Many vegetarians worry about not getting enough iron or protein in their diets. Lentils can solve both problems, and then some! These colourful legumes are packed with vitamins and nutrients including iron, protein, and essential amino acids. Plus, they’re easy to cook and make a great companion to many meals. Lentils are traditionally used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, but they can spice up your soups, stews, pasta, and more.
4. Dried Peaches
If you’re trying to get more iron in your diet, opt for dried fruit as opposed to fresh. Dried fruits pack more nutrients, including iron, per serving. Dried peaches make a great breakfast companion, a delicious addition to salads, and an easy snack throughout your busy day. A serving of dried peaches contains about 9% of your daily recommended iron, without weighing you down with lots of sugar and calories.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
If you stopped eating pumpkin seeds when you stopped carving pumpkins as a kid, now is the time to start back up again. A handful of pumpkin seeds, or an ounce, contains about one milligram of iron. That’s about 5% of the recommended daily value. Pumpkin seeds provide the most benefit when eaten raw, but they still pack an iron punch when roasted for no more than 15-20 minutes.
Soybeans are another super food that packs protein, unsaturated fat (the “good fat”), fibre, and minerals such as iron. A single cup of mature, boiled soybeans contains nearly half the recommended amount of iron your body needs daily. Another great thing about soybeans is their versatility. Season these nutritional powerhouses to your liking, or add them to soups or chilli for a healthy and delicious meal.
7. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans contain a splash of colour and a spattering of essential vitamins and minerals. Among them is iron, and it comes in no small quantity; just a cup of boiled pinto beans yields about 21% of the recommended daily value. Pair these colourful legumes with whole wheat rice for a virtually fat-free meal that’s as easy on your wallet as it is on your waistline. Or, enjoy them with your favourite veggies to introduce even more iron into your diet.
Dark greens such as arugula have countless health benefits with a tiny calorie count. Vegetarians should consume plenty arugula, particularly for its rich iron content. Adding several servings to your diet each week can greatly improve the health of your red blood cells. The easiest way to enjoy arugula is in a green leafy salad, but you can also enjoy it in soups, as a pizza topping, and sautéed with pasta and other dishes.
9. Whole Wheat Pasta
Vegetarians should enjoy whole wheat pasta as part of a healthy balanced diet. Eating pasta is a great way to curb your cravings for carbs while getting essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. While white pasta contains these minerals as well, it can also weigh you down with extra carbs and calories, so choose the much healthier whole wheat pasta options.
10. Black Beans
Beans are good all around; they’re easy on your health and your budget. Black beans, in particular, are loaded with fibre, protein, and iron. That means they satisfy hunger while providing an energy boost that lasts for hours. Vegetarians who are concerned about getting enough iron need only add a one-cup serving of black beans to get about 20% of their daily recommended intake.
11. Brown Rice
Brown rice is one of the most versatile foods on Earth. It’s a staple in several cultures’ cuisines, and it’s widely regarded as an important health food. It’s naturally rich in fibre, it helps rid the body of toxins, and it’s high iron content also helps fight anaemia and fatigue. Cook a serving of brown rice along with your favourite beans or veggies for an iron-rich meal that will keep you feeling full for hours.
12. Prune Juice
There’s a bit of a stigma when it comes to pruning juice, but learning about its bounds of health benefits might help make it more appealing. Give it a chance and you might find that prune juice is not only delicious, but it’s also a potent source of iron. Its high vitamin C content makes it easier for your body to absorb the iron, so have a glass with your next meal to get the most out of the other iron-rich foods in your diet.
Iron deficiency can be greatly reduced by adding oatmeal to your diet. Just a half-cup serving is packed with almost two milligrams of iron. And with loads of other nutrients, oatmeal is a fantastic health food that everyone should be eating more of. It’s an easy and healthy breakfast food, but you can also use oats to make granola, cookies, and other sweet treats that are both delicious and nutritious.
14. Dried Apricots
Apricots are an excellent source of iron and other nutrients. They can be consumed raw, canned, cooked, and dried, but dried apricots provide your body with the most benefits and the largest amount of iron. When apricots are dried, they lose their high water and sugar contents without losing their highly nutritious qualities. Just a handful of dried apricots can provide you with up to 35% of your daily iron intake. They make an easy snack throughout the day or chop them up to serve with other fruits or over a salad.
Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods out there, and they’re also one of the best iron-rich food options for vegetarians. Since potatoes are also packed with vitamin C, it’s easier for your body to absorb the iron it needs. Potatoes work equally well as a side dish and the main attraction, so combine them with other iron-rich foods for a healthy meal any time of the day.
Though tofu is typically associated with Asian cuisine, this versatile and nutritious food has made its way to dinner tables around the world. And rightfully so: tofu is highly nutritious and rich in iron and other essential minerals. Though most people know about the health benefits, many aren’t sure how to prepare tofu, or they’re unimpressed with its bland taste. Fortunately, tofu has a wonderful ability to take on the flavours of the sauces and seasonings it’s prepared with, so learning to love it is as easy as choosing your favourite ingredients and going from there.
Conclusion – Include Iron rich food in your daily diet to keep your active/energetic throughout the day. Doesn’t matter if you are Vegan/Vegetarian the above-listed group of food will help you in sufficing your daily Iron requirement.
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Dietitian Vinita Jaiswal