There are plenty of plant-based, vegan sources of iron that are even more potent than meat in some cases. Here are 10 Vegan sources of iron that you can include in your diet very easily for great health.
Iron is one of the most important nutrients for the body because of its role in the production of blood cells. As you would know, the blood cells are responsible for everything, from transferring oxygen and food to filtering waste or toxic material that enter the body.
There is one question that has puzzled vegans forever – “What are the sources of iron?” The answer to this is that there are numerous vegan sources of iron that can be included in your diet quite easily.
10 Vegan Sources Of Iron – Easily Available Food Sources
It is a common belief that there are very few vegan sources of iron. Quite contrary to this belief, there are several plant-based foods that are packed with iron and other nutrients that are quite essential for the body.
Here is a list of the best sources of iron vegans can include in their diet.
1. Dark Chocolate
If you are looking for tasty foods that are a good source of iron vegan, then dark chocolate is the best option. It is easy to include in your diet and contains more iron per ounce when compared to beef. 3 ounces of dark chocolate contains 10.12mg of iron, while an equal portion of beef only contains 2.11 mg of iron. You can also pair dark chocolate with oranges to get a good source of iron and vitamin C to improve the absorption of iron.
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2. Whole Grains
These are the simplest and the best sources of iron vegan. You can also include a variety of natural sources of iron in your diet with buckwheat, millet, rice, barley, oatmeal or quinoa. 1 cup contains 2.76mg of iron.
Beans and other legumes are among the best dietary sources of iron. This is one of the many reasons why beans are recommended as a staple to vegans. Besides being a good vegan source of iron, legumes are also an important source of proteins that are not found easily in plant-based foods. Legumes like kidney beans can give you up to 3.93 mg of iron.
4. Dried Fruits
This is one of the most unexpected vegan sources of iron. Dried peaches contain the maximum amount of iron at 6.5 mg per cup followed by apricots, prunes, and raisins. Dried fruits that are organic and unprocessed are the best natural source of iron. When added to milkshakes, they also become a great vegan source of iron and calcium.
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5. Blackstrap Molasses
This healthy sweetener is also a high source of iron. This is also a vegan source of iron that beats meat by a mile. Only 2 teaspoons of molasses can give you as much as 2.39 mg or iron. You also do not get the calories that are usually consumed with meat.
A quarter block of tofu contains 2.15 mg of iron, making it one of the best food sources of iron. It is also rich in proteins. It is advised that you purchase tofu that is made with non-GMO soya bean.
This super food is a vegan source of iron and calcium along with other essential minerals like magnesium and also all necessary vitamins. A tablespoon of spirulina contains about 2mg of iron. You can include this source of iron in your diet in the form of energy drinks or smoothies.
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Nuts are highly recommended to anyone who is trying to follow a healthy diet because of the endless nutrients that they are packed with. They are the best dietary sources of iron along with several other nutrients like vitamins. Cashews will give you 8.22 mg of iron in one cup and are followed by almonds, macadamias, and pistachios that give you about 5 mg of iron per cup.
If you are thinking about what are the sources of iron that are easiest to use; then seeds are your answer. They contain 1.31 mg of iron in just one tablespoon. Sesame seeds are the best source of iron in your diet as they can be used as a seasoning or garnish to give you all the iron that your body needs. You can also include pumpkin seeds to get your daily dose of iron.
10. Dark Leafy Greens
One important thing to note is that greens are higher in iron when they are cooked than when they are consumed raw. One of the best food sources of iron is spinach which contains as much as 6.43 mg per cup. The reason cooked greens contain more iron is that you are able to consume a lot more when they are cooked as they tend to reduce in quantity. The other green leafy food sources of iron are Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens, and beet greens.
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Simple Tips To Get The Most From Food Sources Of Iron
- Consume foods that are high sources of iron along with foods rich in vitamin C for better absorption of iron.
- Avoid consumption of coffee and tea with your vegan sources of iron.
- Make sure that you do not eat any calcium rich food 30 minutes before or after consuming foods that are good sources of iron vegan.
- Try cooking in iron pots. That way acidic foods can increase the effect of the natural sources of iron by tenfold.
What Does Iron Do For Our Body?
Iron is one of the essential minerals that need to be included in our diet. The main function of iron is that it helps transport oxygen throughout the body.
The red blood cells contain a component known as hemoglobin that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the different body parts. Iron is a major component of hemoglobin and accounts for two-thirds of the body’s iron content.
Iron is not produced or stored in the body to be used for different functions. This is why you need to include food sources of iron in your diet. If your diet is lacking in iron your body will not be able to produce enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen. As a result, one feels fatigued and low in energy.
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The exhaustion caused by iron deficiency can have several other effects; from reduced brain function to reduced immunity. You see, close to 20% of the oxygen carried in the bloodstream is used by the brain. Since iron is essential for this transport of oxygen, deficiency can compromise brain health.
Myoglobin is a natural protein that is found in the muscles. Iron is an important component of myoglobin. The oxygen from the hemoglobin is first transferred to this protein and then diffused throughout the cells in the muscles. This process is responsible for the contraction of muscles. This is one of the reasons why athletes and bodybuilders include sources of iron rich food in their diet.
In pregnant women, especially, not including natural sources of iron can lead to a deficiency that may lead to premature birth or lower-than-normal weight and size of the baby.
Iron has several other functions such as maintaining healthy cells and also keeping your nails, hair, and skin in great shape.