ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Iron Rich Foods to help Fight Anemia, Vegetarian Style!

Updated on November 15, 2017
Ken Burgess profile image

Grew up on Cape Cod, Mass, Army Vet., Fmr. Director of Energy Conservation programs, RE Agent, current residence the Space Coast, FL

Iron is a much needed mineral that we get through the foods we eat. Iron plays an essential role in energy production in the human body. A component of red blood cells, it binds with oxygen that is absorbed through the lungs, that oxygen then becomes part of the chemical process of energy production, as blood carries oxygen throughout the body.

There are two sources of iron: heme iron, found in animal protein and fish, and nonheme iron, which is found in plants. This article will focus on good sources of nonheme iron.

When your body does not have enough iron, your cells do not receive enough oxygen and cannot produce enough energy. If you aren’t producing enough energy, you’ll feel tired, lethargic, or weak, this can be a sign or symptom of anemia.

Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia and occurs when the body does not have enough iron. The body needs iron to produce hemoglobin.

Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body than nonheme, but research has shown that you can increase your body’s ability to absorb nonheme iron by eating foods high in vitamin C with your meal. That makes our first food worthy of note, as it is high in both vitamin C and Iron.

Peas (Preferably Podded)

With 58mg of vitamin C and 2mg of nonheme iron per cup, peas make a great side dish, they may not seem particularly high in iron, but 100g of peas will give you around 10g or iron which is a good amount for any one meal. Be sure to not overcook them, however, over-boiling causes most of the vitamins and minerals to come out of the pod. The closer to raw you can eat them, the better, cooking vegetables actually depletes them of most of their nutrients and enzymes.

Another great way of having peas, which produces additional protein and vitamins, is allowing them to sprout, when seeds and beans sprout, they consume starch, and produce more protein and vitamins.

Sprouting also partially degrades counterproductive anti-nutrients, like phytic acid. Phytic acid can inhibit absorption of some minerals including iron and zinc. Making sprouting even more beneficial for vegetarians who may be low in iron.

You can read more about Sprouting HERE.

Soybeans (Tofu and Tempeh)

Soybeans provide about 7mg of nonheme iron per cup. Tofu is made of soybeans, it always pops up on healthy food lists as a vegetarian favorite, tofu is incredibly versatile and takes on the flavor of the thing that you cook it with.

Tofu is great in a wide range of dishes, it’s one of the most iron-rich foods you can eat. It’s also full of protein, which is a primary reason so many vegetarians eat it. There is also tempeh, a food that’s actually quite similar to tofu. It’s similar to tofu with huge amounts of iron within it, as well as protein. It’s also incredibly filling and offers long-lasting energy, which is why it’s such a popular meat alternative and why it’s perfect for slicing and serving with vegetables.

Soybeans are just as good by themselves, packed with protein. They’re one of the richest iron sources you can get, in terms of beans and vegetables, and they’re also packed full of other dietary metals like copper. The copper in soybeans helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your immune system strong, and the iron keeps the blood flowing and delivering oxygen throughout your body.

The video below gives some tips on how to prepare tofu, its qualities and uses.

Potatoes

Nothing surprised me more when I was looking for information on iron rich foods than when I saw that potatoes are the most iron-rich foods you can eat, like soybeans they provide about 7mg of iron per cup. However, it depends on how the potato is prepared. As I mentioned about peas, it’s important how they are cooked. If you want to benefit from the iron found within this root, it’s important to prepare them in a way that isn’t too fattening and isn’t over-processed.

Boiled, baked and roasted potatoes (with their skins) are the best ways to prepare them. Deep fried french fries, forget about it, they offer none of the benefits, and all of the starch.

Spinach

One of my favorites, spinach on average only has 3mg of iron per cup. However, spinach is so easy to use in so many ways, and in larger quantities than other foods, as a salad, with almost no preparation effort involved. Indeed, one of my favorite breakfasts in the morning is a tofu and spinach or avocado and spinach salad, sometimes with bits of cranberry, tangerine, or blue berries sprinkled in.

There is a reason why Popeye got a boost from eating spinach, in addition to iron, it is rich in fiber, calcium, vitamin A and E, and protein. And along with being featured in salads and sandwiches raw, spinach can be boiled or added into nearly any dish.

Apricots (dried)

What makes dried apricots great is that they have 6mg of iron per cup, but more than that, they can be taken to school, work or anywhere, and you’ll always have a snack at hand! As with any dried fruit, it has a much longer shelf life than regular fruit.

Dried apricots are an excellent source of important nutrients like fiber, potassium and antioxidant carotenoids. Although the drying process degrades the fruit’s vitamins such as vitamin C.

Fresh apricots of course offer more health benefits, as they will have more vitamins and nutrients.

Pumpkin seeds

Finally, lets not forget about seeds. Pumpkin seeds (and lots of other seeds) are packed full of nutrition. Raw peptides can deliver about 2mg of iron per cup, they are also an excellent source of zinc, zinc helps maintain optimum immune function and wound healing. As with dried apricots, pumpkin seeds can be taken as a snack to work or school. And you could add pumpkin seeds to your spinach salad.

Most seed varieties such as sesame, sunflower and more, can provide up to 25% of your daily iron needs in a cup. Seeds are a very good source of beta carotene, Omega 3, protein, minerals magnesium and manganese, iron, zinc, copper and vitamin K.

Some more facts on Pumpkin seeds (the snack replacement) below:

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Bidita Rahman 

      10 months ago

      Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to transport it throughout your body. Hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the body's iron. If you don't have enough iron, your body can't make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Thanks for your post to learn about these foods more.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)