When following a plant-based diet, there are many nutrients that are harder to get. It’s not that you can’t get them – you just need to eat more nutrient-rich foods to hit your daily goals. Iron is one of the big ones. There are plenty of delicious vegan sources of iron you can add to your diet!
Our vegan, iron-rich foods list below will help you target the sources you’ve been missing out on.
Daily recommendations of iron are anywhere from 13.7–20mg per day, depending on your age and gender. Kids need less, while adults need closer to 20mg. A long-term iron deficiency can cause anemia, and can even become life-threatening if ignored for too long.
Before you create an extensive iron-rich meal plan from the list below, we should mention that supplements or protein powders with iron are one of the easiest ways to reach your daily goals.
We recommend protein powders. Iron pills are easy to take, but they often contain 100% (or more) of your daily needs. This is bad because there is a such thing as too much iron!
If you’re regularly taking a pill with 100% of your daily iron needs and eating foods that contain iron, this can be dangerous. Excess iron is stored in major organs. After years of this, it can cause fatal damage to the brain and liver.
Protein is another important nutrient that is more difficult for plant-based diets to get. This is why a protein powder that contains superfoods and greens is excellent.
Simply make a filling, delicious protein shake in place of a huge salad! It’s easier to make (and eat), plus it takes far less planning when you pick the right powder.
For example, Ground Based Nutrition’s Superfood Protein has 20g of plant-based protein, plus 35% of your daily iron intake per serving. It’s 100% plant-based, organic, soy-free, and contains superfoods for additional nutrients. It’s one of the best vegan sources of iron and protein!
The 35% iron amount is the perfect number. It leaves enough room for the iron you get naturally in foods. Iron supplements that provide 100% your daily amount can be dangerous – as we mentioned earlier, it’s possible to get too much iron.
Beans and lentils are a vegan staple. Depending on the type, just one cup of cooked beans offers anywhere from 4.4 – 6.6mg of iron.
Lentils offer 6.6mg of iron per cup cooked, or close to 35% of an average daily serving.
Soybean-based meat alternatives are another one of the best vegan sources of iron. A 6-ounce serving contains 3 – 3.6mg of iron, close to 20% of your daily serving.
There are many other vegan products made from soybeans such as soy curls, soy milk, and so on.
Oats: 3.4 mg of iron per 1 cup cooked
Quinoa: 2.8mg of iron per 1 cup cooked
These are delicious, simple, and easy to add to meals. Seeds and nuts high in iron include sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, hemp seeds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, flaxseed, and more.
Most vegetables are filled with nutrients, but there are definitely some that have more iron than others.
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and swiss chard contain 2.5 – 6.4mg of iron per cooked cup. These definitely make the highest iron rich foods list. However, many people find that a large amount of greens are hard to eat. This is where smoothies come in handy!
Other vegetables that are high in iron include broccoli, peas, palm hearts, and sprouts.
Cereals (high in iron include fortified cereals)
If you’re worried you might be suffering from an iron deficiency or anemia, we’d recommend seeing a doctor. These vegan sources of iron are a great way to hit your daily iron intake if you’re not already. However, consuming more iron might not be the go-to solution for anemia. There could be more deeply rooted causes (such as gut problems).