Iron (Fe) is an essential mineral found in every cell of the body and participates in a wide variety of metabolic processes.
It is primarily involved in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to tissues by red blood cell hemoglobin.
About 70% of Fe in the body is found in myoglobin (muscle cells) and hemoglobin.
In addition, about 25% of the iron in the body is stored as ferritin, circulates in the blood and is found in cells.
The immune system is also dependent on iron for its normal functioning, plus, it is involved in the production of enzymes and the conversion of blood sugar to energy.
Iron deficiency anemia
Low Fe levels over a long period of time can lead to anemia.
- Inadequate dietary Fe;
- Stomach ulcer;
- Impaired Fe absorption;
- Frequent blood donations;
- Stomach cancer;
- Chronic kidney disease;
- Loss of body Fe in the urine;
- Shortness of breath;
- Lack of energy;
- An altered sense of taste;
- A pale complexion;
- Reduced resistance to infection;
- Low birth weight babies and premature births;
- Poor scholastic performance;
- Hair loss;
- Unexplained weight loss.
Note – pregnant women with severe anemia have a higher risk of complications after birth.
How Much Iron Do You Need per Day?
Children – 7-10 mg
Young women – 16 mg
Young men – 13 mg
Women – 16 mg
Men – 9 mg
Elderly people – 9 mg
Pregnant women – 30 mg
Iron Rich Foods For Vegans And Vegetarians:
1- Dried seaweed (spirulina) – 28,5 mg of Fe/100g
Also called ancient super food, seaweed has been a part of the Japanese diet for centuries due to its wide array of minerals and vitamins.
It’s one of the best iron rich foods for vegans and vegetarians.
2- Chia seeds – 16,4 mg of Fe/100g
Chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Moreover, they are non-GMO and gluten free.
3- Morel mushrooms (raw) – 12,2 mg of Fe/100g
These tasty fungi provide considerable stores of nutrients, making them a healthy addition to any meal.
In addition, morel mushrooms are a great source of ergocalciferol (vitamin D2).
4- Lemongrass (raw) – 8,2 mg of Fe/100g
Lemongrass, also called fever grass, is a good source of vitamins A and C, B9, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese and calcium.
5- Cashews (raw) – 6,7 mg of Fe/100g
6- Sesame seeds (hulled, dried) – 6,4 mg of Fe/100g
Not only are these seeds an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of copper, but they are also a good source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, molybdenum, zinc, selenium, and fiber.
7- Parsley (raw) – 6,2 mg of Fe/100g
Parsley can be found throughout the year on the market and acts as a pain reliever with anti-inflammatory functions.
8- Oat bran (dry) – 5,4 mg of Fe/100g
Oat bran contains about 50 percent more fiber than oatmeal, making it more effective at helping digestion and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Furthermore, it has more calcium, protein, phosphorus, thiamin, magnesium, riboflavin, and zinc.
9- Spinach (boiled) – 3,9 mg of Iron/100g
Many studies have concluded that spinach helps maintain your vigorous brain function, mental clarity, and memory due to its content of an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid.
10- Almonds (raw) – 3,7 mg of Fe/100g
Almonds are also a good source of molybdenum, magnesium, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
11- Jerusalem artichokes (raw) – 3,4 mg of Fe/100g
Better known as sunchokes, they provide a number of minerals and vitamins with many health benefits because of their role as a prebiotic.
12- Blackstrap molasses – 3,4 mg of Fe/100g
Blackstrap molasses is a nutrient-dense byproduct of the white sugar refining process that contains copper, magnesium, and other nutrients.
13- Lentils (cooked) – 3,3 mg of Fe/100g
Lentils are easy to prepare with numerous health benefits like the ability to maintain and improve heart health, fight blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to diabetes, or help you to lose weight in a natural way.
14- Chickpeas (cooked) – 2,9 mg of Iron/100g
They contain many phytochemicals, antioxidants, and phytate and are rich in both insoluble and soluble dietary fiber.
15- Red kidney beans (cooked) – 2,9 mg of Fe/100g
Packed with essential amino acids, vitamin B9, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and a number of other important health-promoting nutrients, these legumes are a true superfood.
In addition, they are loaded with manganese that acts as an antioxidant defense.
16- Lima beans (cooked) – 2,4 mg of Fe/100g
Lima beans are also an excellent source of copper, dietary fiber, molybdenum, and manganese.
17- Brazil nuts – 2,4 mg of Fe/100g
Brazil nuts contain minerals such as manganese, potassium, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc.
18- Raisins (uncooked) – 1,9 mg of Fe/100g
The health benefits of raisins include relief from acidosis, constipation, fever, anemia, and sexual dysfunction.
19- Swiss chard (raw) – 1,8 mg of Fe/100g
Swiss chard, a member of the chenopod plant family, is a leafy green vegetable with an extremely high nutrient-density.
The first documented use of swiss chard in cooking was in Sicily. Furthermore, this vegetable is now even being grown in space.
20- Kale (raw) – 1,5 mg of Fe/100g
Kale, like other dark green veggies, may be helpful in preventing different cancers such as prostate, colon, and ovarian.
21- Quinoa (cooked) – 1,5 mg of Fe/100g
The health benefits of quinoa include reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes Mellitus, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, or hypertension.
22- Brussels sprouts (cooked) – 1,2 mg of Fe/100g
Brussels sprouts are a very good source of vitamin B9, vitamin B6, manganese, choline, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
23- Turnip greens (raw) – 1,1 mg of Fe/100g
They are also an important source of beta-carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
24- Prunes – 0,9 mg of Fe/100g
Dried plums, also known as prunes, are a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
25- Broccoli (raw) – 0,7 mg of Fe/100g
Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, that includes cauliflower, kale, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and rutabaga.
26- Brown rice (steamed) – 0,6 mg of Fe/100g
Health benefits of brown rice include better functioning of the digestive system, cardiovascular system, and nervous system.
27- Millet (cooked) – 0,6 mg of Fe/100g
Millet is so important because of its uniquely high content of minerals and vitamins, including impressive starch levels.
28- Oriental radishes (raw) – 0,4 mg of Fe/100g
Daikon, also known as the Chinese radish or Oriental radish, is one of many cruciferous vegetables associated in studies with successful cancer prevention.
29- Potatoes (boiled) – 0,3 mg of Fe/100g
Potato is usually underrated in regards to its nutritional benefits.
Nevertheless, it is packed with a variety of minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals that benefit human health.
30- Tomatoes (raw) – 0,3 mg of Fe/100g
Tomatoes can be prepared in a seemingly endless number of dishes, as well as being great to eat alone.
They can reduce heart disease and potentially prevent numerous chronic diseases if consumed daily.
How to increase iron absorption from plant-based foods?
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C and other organic acids (such as strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, bananas, and potatoes);
- Avoid calcium found in fortified foods and dairy products;
- Drinking coffee or tea with meals can reduce the absorption of Iron by 50-60 percent.
Since the human body has no mechanism to excrete excess Iron, it is best to avoid consuming heme iron (found in animal products) and taking iron supplements unless prescribed.
This is because iron supplement have been strongly associated with birth complications such as maternal hypertension and preterm birth.
If you enjoy this reading about iron rich foods for vegan and vegetarians and you’re feeling generous perhaps share or retweet it.Thank you.