Vegan Sources Of Iron: Plant-Based Iron Sources
Plant-based eaters may be at risk for iron deficiency, one of the most frequent nutritional deficiencies globally. However, iron requirements can be met with a well-planned plant-based diet.
Explore the importance of iron, why vegans need to pay attention to their iron intake, excellent plant-based sources of iron & key points while consuming iron-rich foods.
Why is Iron Necessary?
Iron is necessary for many bodily functions. Here is why iron is necessary:
1. Oxygen Transport: Iron's primary function is to bind & transport oxygen throughout the body. Appropriate iron levels ensure oxygen reaches all organs & tissues, supporting their optimal function & overall vitality.
2. Blood Production: Iron is essential to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Lack of iron causes anemia & a reduced ability to produce healthy red blood cells.
3. Physical Health: Collagen, a protein that maintains healthy joints, skin, hair, & nails, is synthesized using iron. Myoglobin, another iron-dependent protein, is crucial in absorbing, storing, & transporting oxygen. This further contributes to muscle health.
4. Mental Health: Iron is needed for energy metabolism & brain-healthy protein synthesis. Appropriate iron levels are associated with increased energy, enhanced concentration, & general mental vitality. Low iron levels may cause iron deficiency anemia, which causes tiredness, weakness, dizziness, & headaches.
5. Immune Function: Iron is necessary for optimal immune system function. It aids in developing white blood cells, which fight against infections & diseases, keeping you healthy & safe.
6. Heart Health: Heart health relies on maintaining optimal iron levels. Iron is required for healthy blood circulation, ensuring oxygen is transported efficiently throughout the body. However, high iron levels may raise the risk of heart disease. Maintaining a healthy iron level is essential for optimal cardiovascular health.
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Plant-Based / Vegan Sources Of Iron
Contrary to common belief, properly designed vegan diets can provide adequate iron. You can easily meet your daily iron requirements by incorporating iron-rich plant-based foods into your diet.
Some vegan-friendly iron-rich plant-based sources, such as:
Legumes (dal) are rich in protein & fiber & loaded with iron.
- Lentils: One cup of cooked lentils contains 6.6 mg of iron. Lentils use in various dishes, including soups, stews, salads, & even vegan burgers.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are excellent versatile & nutrient-dense iron source pulses. It contains 4.7 mg of iron per cup. They're great for hummus, roasted snacks, & meat substitute dishes. Try meatilicious Lucknow delicacy Sudo's Vegetarian Galouti Kebab, made with chickpeas (channa dal).
- White Beans: White beans are high in both protein & iron. One cup of cooked white beans contains 6.6 mg of iron. It can be added to stew, soup, or salad recipes.
- Kidney beans: Red kidney beans are another iron-rich legume. One cup of cooked red kidney beans contains 5.2 mg of iron.
- Black-eyed peas: Black-eyed peas are high in protein, fiber, & iron. One-half cup of black-eyed peas contains 7.2 mg of iron.
- Fortified cereals: Many breakfast foods are fortified with iron & other vitamins & minerals to meet essential nutrient requirements. Consider cereals that provide at least 20 percent of the daily iron value per serving.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is rich in protein & a good source of iron. One cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately 2.8 mg of iron.
- Guava: Guava is a delicious & iron-rich tropical fruit. One cup of guava contains about 2.6 mg of iron.
- Mulberries: Fresh mulberries are also an excellent source of iron. Mulberries contain approximately 1.85 mg of iron per cup.
- Pomegranate: Pomegranate is a fruit with many uses & advantages, including its brilliant color & high iron content. A medium-sized pomegranate contains approximately 0.6 mg of iron.
- Spinach: Spinach is a nutrient-dense & iron-rich leafy green. One cup of uncooked spinach contains approximately 1 mg of iron, whereas 1 cup of cooked spinach is an exceptional source of iron, containing 6.43 mg per cup.
- Swiss chard: Swiss chard is a green veggie. A cooked cup of Swiss chard contains 4 mg of iron per cup.
- Kale: Kale, like spinach, is an iron-rich leaves green vegetable. Cooking kale can boost its iron content to approximately 1 mg per cup.
Nuts & Seeds:
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are rich in essential nutrients, including iron. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain approximately 2.4 mg of iron.
- Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of iron. One ounce of pumpkin seeds provides 2.3 mg of iron. It may use as a topping for salads or roast to make a crunchy snack.
- Hemp seeds: The iron content of hemp seeds is approximately 2.3 mg per ounce. They may use over salads, smoothies, & baked foods.
- Cashews: Cashews are a good source of essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, & iron. One ounce of unprocessed cashews contains 1.7 mg of iron.
- Dried apricots: Dried apricots are a convenient & good source of iron. Half a cup of dried apricots contains approximately 2 mg of iron.
- Dried Peaches: Like dried apricots, dried peaches contain a small amount of iron. A ¼-cup serving of dried peaches offers about 1.6 mg of iron.
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- Tofu: Iron content of tofu is 6.64 mg per 1.2 cups. Tofu is an adaptable source of plant-based protein, used in stir-fries & curries & as a substitute for meat in various dishes.
- Tempeh: Meat substitute fermented soy product that is both high in protein & an excellent source of iron. One cup of tempeh contains 4.5 mg.
- Blackstrap molasses: Blackstrap molasses, a natural sweetener derived from sugar cane, is a concentrated source of iron. Two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses provide 7.2 mg of iron.
- Baked potatoes: A medium-cooked potato with skin contains 2 mg of iron. Try stuffing a baked potato with your favorite veggies & plant-based protein for a filling vegetarian supper.
- Amaranth: One cup of prepared amaranth contains 5 mg of iron. This ancient grain can enhance the nutritional value of porridge, salads, & baked products.
The harvesting & processing technique may varies nutrient content, bioavailability, & overall nutritional quality, including iron content.
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Some Key Points To Consider
- Iron absorption from plant-based sources (iron non-heme) is lesser than iron absorption from animal-based sources (iron heme).
- Plant-based eaters should consume 1.8 times more iron than heme iron sources.
- When supplementing with iron or taking multivitamins, it is essential to adhere to the recommendations of a healthcare professional to avoid excessive iron consumption, which can have adverse health effects.
Ways To Increase Iron Absorption
- Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. Including vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, bell peppers, potatoes, & broccoli in your meals can help your body absorb iron better.
- Phytates & polyphenols, which inhibit iron absorption, may be reduced by soaking grains, nuts, seeds, & legumes.
- Black tea, coffee, & red wine may reduce iron absorption if consumed apart from iron-rich meals.
- Avoid taking calcium supplements with meals since high dosages may limit iron absorption.
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Vegans & anyone following a plant-based diet may easily get all the iron they need by eating a range of naturally high foods. Combining these iron-rich foods (mentioned above) with vitamin C sources for an improved absorption rate allows you to maintain optimal iron levels & support your overall health & wellness on a vegan diet.
Check out "Sudo Plant-Based Food," an innovative vegan food collection kindness. To meet the rising demand for plant-based & vegan diets, Sudo offers flavorful & sustainable alternatives, such as vegan chicken-flavored popcorn, vegan seekh kebabs, vegan galouti kebabs, vegan keema samosas, vegan chicken miracle momos, & plant-based burger patties.