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8 Vegan Sources of Iron That Aren't Spinach

Updated on October 31, 2015

We all know red meat and shellfish are the best sources of iron. But what if you avoid meat and fish completely? Most likely, you're going to struggle to get your daily quota of iron, and that can lead to anaemia and constant fatigue. Amazingly though, almost 80% of the world's population can be considered deficient - so whether you're a vegan or an all-out meat-eater, it probably wouldn't hurt to take a look at your iron consumption.

When we think about vegetarian iron sources, most of us jump straight to spinach. But love it or hate it, I'm sure we can all agree it's time to look a little further.

Here are 8 sources of non-heme iron that are totally suitable for vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike. And Pop Eye's favourite is nowhere in sight!

Farmer's market vegetables.
Farmer's market vegetables. | Source

1. Turmeric

We've all heard about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of this wonder-spice, but did you know it's high in iron, too? Just one tablespoon contributes 16% of your recommended daily intake. Not too bad, right?

Try adding turmeric to curries, rice, or dissolve it with honey and cinnamon in a steaming mug of hot almond milk for a delicious and healthy alternative to hot chocolate.

Other herbs and spices that provide a good hit of iron include cumin, dried thyme and parsley.

Ground turmeric
Ground turmeric | Source

2. Green Peas

Not many of us think of this old fashioned side as a nutritional powerhouse, but green peas are not only high in protein, but also a wide range of vitamins and minerals. A 200g serve of peas will proved 16% of your daily iron needs.

So just because you're not such a fan of roast lamb anymore, don't skip the minted peas at grandma's!

Green peas
Green peas | Source

3. Baked Potatoes

Talking of roast dinner, the humble potato is another fantastic source of iron that often goes unnoticed. A single baked potato provides a whopping 23% of your daily iron needs. Don't forget to leave the skin on - that's where a lot of the nutrition comes from!

Raw red and white potatoes.
Raw red and white potatoes. | Source

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are often called the poor man's meat, and there's good reason for it! Not only do they provide a fantastic, rich flavour that beats chicken any day, one cup of mushrooms will provide 15% of your daily iron needs.

Dry them sautéed with spinach and garlic as part of your breakfast, or with rice in a simple but delicious risotto.

Raw brown mushrooms.
Raw brown mushrooms. | Source

5. Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are not only a yummy snack, they're packed full of nutrients. 100g provides 15% of your iron RDI.

Go easy on them, though. They're also a great source of sugar!

Other dried fruits high in iron include dried peaches and prunes.

Dried apricots and prunes (dried plums).
Dried apricots and prunes (dried plums). | Source

6. Quinoa

Quinoa is well known for being one of very few complete vegetarian proteins (others include soybeans and buckwheat). But did you know it's also rich in iron, with 200g contributing 16%?

Try quinoa in a salad, or check out my yummy recipe for Sweet Potato and Quinoa mash.

Mixed red and white cooked quinoa.
Mixed red and white cooked quinoa. | Source

7. Soy Beans

Talking of soy, these beans are also a great source of iron. One cup of cooked beans provides an incredible 49% of your daily iron. And this means that all soy products, whether it's tofu, soy milk or tempeh, are also great places to find a little more iron.

Tofu (soy bean curd).
Tofu (soy bean curd). | Source

8. Lentils

One cup of lentils contains 37% of your daily iron needs. Toss dried red lentils into soups, stews and even add them to rice. Once cooked, they're soft with a subtle nutty flavour, and take on the flavour of whatever they're cooked with. Lentils are also a great source of protein, fibre, and a huge array of vitamins and minerals.

Dried red lentils, uncooked.
Dried red lentils, uncooked. | Source

So there you have it. 8 great nutritional foods we could all be eating to get a little more iron in our diets. What are your favourites? Do you know of any other good vegan sources of iron? Let us know in the comment section below.

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Courtney, you give really good information. More mushrooms and skin-on potatoes for me. Thank you very much.

    • Courtney Linuza profile imageAUTHOR

      Courtney Linuza 

      3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks Alphadogg16! Glad that you found it informative. Sounds like you have a pretty impressive diet! Is it something you do intentionally, or do you just happen to eat these foods because you like them?

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      3 years ago from Texas

      This is a pretty good and informative list of sources of iron Courtney Linuza and I eat all of them pretty much on a regular basis and I'm definitely not a vegetarian/vegan. Thumbs up on your hub.


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