How to Get Enough Iron in your Vegetarian Diet
Variety & Moderation is Key
No matter what type of diet you follow, it is important to eat a variety of nutritious foods to maintain a well-balanced and healthy body.
One of the concerns that many vegetarians and vegans may have is how to get enough iron in their diet. If you have any concerns about the amount of iron you intake, or lack there of, this article will offer some helpful tips to incorporate more iron-packed foods into your daily food consumption.
The Importance of Iron in Your Diet
Iron is an essential mineral that aids in the formation of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our bodies. Iron also plays a crucial role in our immune function and energy levels.
Tasty Vegetarian & Iron Rich Foods
Beans, Pulses, Legumes
1 cup lentils contains 6.59mg of iron
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 cup of chickpeas contains 4.74mg of iron
Recipe to Try: Chickpea Salad
- Kidney Beans
1 cup of kidney beans contains 3.93mg of iron
4 oz contains 6.08mg of iron
What to Do With Tofu: Creative Ways to Prepare Bean Curd
Buying beans in bulk saves money and the earth by reducing the amount of packaging. For more information, check out my hub on How to Cook Dried Beans.
Leafy Green Vegetables
1 cup cooked contains 6.43mg of iron
- Swiss Chard
1 cup cooked contains 3.96mg of iron
- Collard Greens
1 cup cooked contains 2.20mg of iron
Leafy greens taste delicious sauteed in a bit of olive oil and minced garlic. Or try adding them to your favorite quiche recipe.
Miscellaneous Vegetarian Foods High in Iron
- Blackstrap Molasses
2 teaspoons contain 2.39mg of iron
- Dried Apricots
5 pieces (halves) contain .8mg of iron
1 cup contains 2.1mg of iron
1 whole avocado contains approximately 1.1-1.7mg of iron
2 tablespoons contain .47mg of iron
The Role of Vitamin C
Did you know our bodies cannot fully absorb iron from vegetables unless vitamin C is ingested in the same meal? It's true!
Adding raw citrus fruit, such as oranges, lemons, or grapefruit to your meal, can help maximize the amount of iron your body can intake. Another simple way to add vitamin C to your dinner is a side salad containing raw, leafy greens.
Do you regulary cook with a cast iron pan/skillet?
Cooking with a Cast-Iron Pan/Skillet
- Cast-iron cookware releases small amounts of iron into the dish being prepared.
- Seasoned pans are protected from rust and create a non-stick surface.
- Acidic, high moisture foods, such as applesauce & spaghetti sauce absorb the most iron from this method.
- Due to risks of iron toxicity, children under 3 should not be served food cooked in cast-iron cookware.
Recommended Daily Doses of Iron by the USDA
Gender, Age (in years)
Recommended Daily Allowance
Signs & Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
- Unexplained fatigue or lack of energy
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Brittle nails or hair loss
The symptoms listed above can be a sign of many things. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns before taking dietary supplements, especially iron.
Health Risk Tip: Too much iron can cause iron toxicity.
True/False Iron Quiz
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Video: Iron Rich Smoothie - Healthy Breakfast Recipe
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