Top 5 Iron Rich Foods
Iron is one of the essential minerals needed for good health. According to the NHS, lacking in it can result in feeling tired and having a lack of energy, shortness of breath, pale skin and heart palpitations. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, which can cause further health problems. Iron is one of the most common deficiencies in people who follow a plant based diet, specifically when they don’t eat a balanced diet. We’ve chosen our top five iron rich foods that are easy to incorporate into your diet if you’re new to plant based living, and if you’ve been following a plant based diet for a while you might already know some of these.
1. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens such as kale, chard and spinach are renowned for their iron content. One of the most common sources of iron rich food, spinach is versatile as it can be eaten raw or cooked and is easy to buy as a fresh or frozen product. Other green vegetables known to have a high iron content include broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Legumes include soya beans, lentils and other types of beans and peas. Food derived from soya beans such as tofu also have a notable iron content, with 8.8mg of iron per cup of soya beans, with fermented soya products such as natto or tempeh having a much higher iron content of 15mg. Lentils are a great source of iron that have around 3.3mg per cup, however with phytic acid present in them, which prevents the absorption of iron, they are best paired with vitamin C rich foods, such as bell peppers.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the seeds that have the richest iron content. Per tablespoon they have up to 4.2mg of iron, and products that are derived from pumpkin seeds are believed to hold a similar value. Other seeds that have a worthy iron content include sesame, flaxseed and hemp and seeds are known to have other great health benefits for those leading a plant based diet.
Quinoa is a great source of vitamins and minerals for those who eat gluten-free diets. Cooked quinoa has around 2.8mg of iron per cup, and it is one of the few grains that contains all of the nine essential amino acids, which also makes it a complete-protein source. You can purchase it easily in UK supermarkets and health food shops.
5. Dark Chocolate
For a slightly more indulgent source of iron, if dark chocolate is a favourite treat of yours, there is now a good reason to include it in your diet. It has almost 12mg of iron per 100g as well as minimal levels of fat and sugar in comparison to other types of chocolate. However, it’s not recommended to eat 100g of dark chocolate often as a main source of iron.