You are a vegetarian, and you want to get all the iron you need from plants. Good news: it’s simple! Vegetarians can get all the iron they need from plants as long as they know what plants give them iron-rich foods. As long as you’re eating a wide variety of whole plant foods, including legumes, you can easily get all of the healthy iron your body needs. Too much iron in our diet can be harmful, but there are many things that act as natural waste-removers that help your body “recognize” that it’s getting too much iron.
Iron is an essential nutrient, but not all vegetarian diets are healthy. By eating a variety of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains and avoiding processed foods containing added salt, fat, and sugar, you’ll have plenty of iron-rich foods that will assist your body in working properly.
Women are at higher risk for iron deficiencies due to menstrual bleeding or hormone-related changes that decrease iron absorption from food. To prevent this from occurring, try adding foods rich in vitamin C (such as broccoli, cauliflower or peppers) to meals at the same time as any sources of iron in your diet.
My suggestion to vegetarian women is to eat some legumes and grains with every meal. These foods have been shown to buffer against any excess iron we may be eating.
Too much iron on its own is bad for you, but all vegetarians are at risk for being deficient in this essential mineral. Iron is found in many vegetarian foods, and there are other vegetarian ways to increase your iron intake. If you currently have low iron levels, eat foods rich in vitamin C at the same time as iron-rich foods for maximum absorption.
Below is a list of all the good sources of plant-based iron out there. Read on to find out how much is in each food and why it’s so healthy for you!
Spinach: 1 cup = 4.8 mg (15% Recommended Daily Value)
Chard: 1 cup = 3.9 mg (14% Recommended Daily Value)
Collards: 1 cup = 2.9 mg (13% Recommended Daily Value)
Kale: 1 cup = 2.8 mg (12% Recommended Daily Value)
Brussel Sprouts: 1 cup = 2.7 mg (12% Recommended Daily Value)
Mustard Greens: 1 cup = 2.1 mg (9% Recommended Daily Value)
Turnip Greens: 1 cup = 1.7 mg (8% Recommended Daily Value)
Dried Apricots: 1/2 cup = 4 mg (15% Recommended Daily Value)
Blackstrap Molasses (in a little water): 1 tbsp = 3.2 mg (14% Recommended Daily Value)
Lentils*: 1 cup = 7.3 mg (28% Recommended Daily Value)
Chickpeas*: 1 cup = 5.9 mg (23% Recommended Daily Value)
Tofu, Firm: 3 ounces = 2.6 mg (11% Recommended Daily Value)
Tofu, Silken: 3 ounces = 2.5 mg (10% Recommended Daily Value)
Peanuts*: 1 ounce = 2.1 mg (8% Recommended Daily Value)
Spaghetti, Cooked: 1 cup = 2.1 mg (8% Recommended Daily Value)
Split Peas: 1 cup = 2.0 mg (7% Recommended Daily Value)
Raisins*: 1/2 cup = 2.5 mg (10% Recommended Daily Value)
Potato, Baked: 1 medium = 0.7 mg (3% Recommended Daily Value)
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