You have probably noticed that there are nay-sayers with every new food movement, haven’t you?
When it comes to plant-based diets, one of the most common criticisms is people asking, ‘but where’s the iron?’
While most people believe that iron deficiency occurs if a person doesn’t eat meat, the truth is that this health condition has nothing to do with diet. Namely, people need less iron than it is generally believed: men need about 9 mg while women and teenagers need 18 mg.
Iron is found in abundance in the foods below, which means that you can switch to plant-based diet without worrying about the perceived loss of iron.
Spinach is packed with iron and it has been historically associated with strong muscles and bones. Besides iron, it also contains large quantities of antioxidants and vitamin A. As for the iron content, it is worth noting that it increases when you cook the veggie.
Tofu is designed to fill the perceived loss of meat and iron in one`s diet. So, it is used as a meat substitute in various dishes. One 126-gram serving of tofu provides up to 3.6 mg of iron or 19% of the RDA.
A 100-gram serving of pumpkin seeds provides 3.3% iron, plus the zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin A, F, B, and E content.
Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios are an excellent source of iron, plus other nutrients that are not contained in meat. Anyone who is worried about losing iron from their diet should eat plenty of them.
A 30-gram serving provides 3.2 mg of iron, which is 18% of your RDA. It is delicious too, so it works as great food for abating your sweet tooth.
Mung beans have the most iron of all legumes, with every 1.8mg out of 100 being iron.
Every percent of a broccoli portion is made of iron. What`s more, one serving provides 168% of your vitamin C RDA.
A 100-gram serving of kale provides 1.5 mg of iron. It also contains nutrients like and vitamin C (200% of your RDA) and vitamin A (512% of your RDA).
A 100-gram serving of lentils provides 3.3 mg of iron, along with many other nutrients and fiber.
Additional tips on how to get enough iron on a plant-based diet:
- Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal
- Vegetables: tomato sauce, swiss chard, collard greens
- Other: blackstrap molasses, prune juice
Ways vegetarians and vegans can absorb more iron
- The less you eat, the better it is absorbed
- Cast-iron skillets increase iron absorption
- Avoid coffee and tea when eating high-iron meals
- Eat non-heme iron foods with vitamin C foods, and absorption can increase as much as five times (beans and rice with salsa, falafel with tomatoes and hummus with lemon juice, for instance)