While meat is the main source of iron, vegetarians can also get iron from plant-based foods. Here are seven iron-rich foods for vegetarians.
As more and more people become aware of the impact that the meat industry has on our planet, plant-based diets continue to rise in popularity.
But, with a new “trend” comes speculation, and a lot of people believe that following this sort of diet is bad for your health. We’re here to settle the truth.
While it is true that you have to pay closer attention to the foods you eat while on a plant-based diet, it is not impossible to get all the nutrients you need through it.
This is particularly the case with iron, which a lot of people think only comes from meat products. Read on to discover how to get iron while on a plant-based diet.
What Is Iron?
Iron is just one of the essential minerals that your body must absorb on a daily basis. It helps to reduce feelings of tiredness and has also been found to support your immune system.
The great thing about iron is that, much like many other vitamins, it can be found in lots of foods.
The not-so-great news, however, is that the majority of iron-rich foods are animal products. This can sometimes make it feel like vegetarians and vegans aren’t getting enough.
7 Iron-Rich Foods For Vegetarians
Thanks to a whole lot of research, it has been found that iron lies in quite a few plant-based foods, too! This means that, as long as you know where to look, it can be pretty easy to meet your iron intake as a vegetarian or vegan.
Let’s take a look at some of the foods that are high in iron:
1. Nuts And Seeds
While a plate of nuts and seeds isn’t exactly a “main” meal, they can be incorporated into a variety of dishes for a nutritional boost.
The majority of nuts and seeds are stacked with fiber and iron, making them a delicious addition to meet your nutritional intake.
And one seed to rule them all when it comes to iron content is pumpkin seed. But we’ll talk about this below.
2. Dried Fruits
If you’re a fan of dried fruit, then you’ll be pleased to know that they’re very nutritious (just as long as they’re not stacked full of sugar, of course!).
Whether putting dried fruit with your morning porridge or having it as a dessert after a healthy meal, there are many ways to incorporate dried fruits into your diet.
3. Leafy Greens
That’s right – we’re telling you to eat your greens! Dark leafy greens, in particular, are full of nutrients and goodness.
When focusing on your iron intake, we recommend adding a portion of spinach or kale to your meals. These have been found to be the richest in iron.
Lentils are an excellent source of iron, especially for vegetarians. A cup of cooked lentils contains more than a third of the daily recommended intake of iron.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Need a healthy snack you can take with you wherever you go? Opt for pumpkin seeds.
They are packed with vitamins and nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin K, manganese, and magnesium.
The latest is found in abundance in pumpkin seeds and helps reduce depression and your risk of insulin resistance. So a handful of pumpkin seeds is the perfect snack to prevent type 2 diabetes.
One cup of quinoa provides 16% of the iron your body needs in a day. Besides being rich in iron, it also contains antioxidants, protein, and minerals.
What’s more, quinoa is great for those with gluten intolerance since it’s a gluten-free grain.
While it doesn’t contain a high amount of iron, broccoli is actually “famous” for its richness in vitamin C. And this is important because it helps your body to better absorb iron.
So if you want to max out your iron intake, make sure to add broccoli to your every plate.
What About Iron Supplements?
While plant-based diets can be sufficient enough to meet your daily iron requirements, a lot of vegans take iron supplements to control their intake.
If you are considering taking an iron supplement, reach out to a nutritionist or doctor before doing so. They will be able to assess your current situation and decide whether a supplement is best for you!