Vegetarian Food and Nutrition

Top 5 Iron-Rich Foods for Vegans & Vegetarians

Iron is very important when it comes to required minerals for health and well-being. Even the small deficiency of iron quantity in the body can result in malfunctioning of several body parts.

One can find iron in two kinds in foods that is heme and non-heme. Heme iron is present in animal products only, whereas non-heme iron present in plants.

How Much Iron Does Someone Need?

In general, it is recommended that an average intake of 18 mg per day is necessary. Though, specific needs vary based on a gender, or life stage of a person. Also, it depends on one's age.

1. An average of 19 years old healthy male requires 8mg  of Iron per day. 
2. Women of age 19-50 years require 18mg of iron per day.
3. However, after 51 years of age, women's needs drop to 8mg.
4. A woman who is pregnant or expecting requires more iron—about 27 mg.
5. Lactating women require comparatively less iron—about 9mg.

More importantly for vegetarians and vegans, stats are little different because non-heme iron tends to be less easily consumed by our bodies in comparison with heme iron. Therefore Recommended Daily Intake for vegans and vegetarians is 1.8 times larger than for non-vegetarians.

What Happens When Body Lacks Iron?

A deficiency of iron can lead to weakness in a human body and can also give rise to anemia, which is also known as iron-deficiency anemia. But then the question arises how to recognize if you lack iron in your body.

Some symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are irritability, anxiety, depression, and hair loss. However, these symptoms may take time to develop. Most importantly, it is difficult to diagnose iron deficiency anemia and also requires a blood test.

Apart from that, a diet lacking in iron can result in shortness of breath, low energy levels, irritability, headaches, or dizziness.

So here we are listing top 5 food which contains a good amount of iron:

1. Potatoes

When it comes to vegetables, potatoes carry a great quantity of iron, mostly in their skins.

Particularly, one big unpeeled potato contributes 3.2 mg of iron, which is 18% of the Recommended Dietary Intake. However, sweet potatoes comprise slightly less that is 12% of the RDI or 2.1 mg for the same quantity.

Not only iron but potatoes are a great source of fiber also. A single portion of a potato can cover up to 46% of your daily potassium, B6, and vitamin C requirements.

2. Olives

Olives have good iron content. They comprise around 18% of the RDI that is 3.3 mg of iron per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). More specifically, fresh olives are a great source of fiber as well as fat-soluble vitamins A and E.

Also, they provide several health benefits like a lower risk of heart disease through its beneficial plant compounds content.

3. Dark Chocolate

Good news for many, right? We know in comparison with milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains significantly more nutrients.

Meeting around 18% of the RDI, it offers 3.3 mg of iron per ounce (28 grams). In addition to iron, it also contains a good amount of fiber, magnesium, copper, and manganese.

Moreover, the presence of beneficial plant compounds in dark chocolate makes it a powerful source of antioxidants and that help protect against various diseases.

4. Quinoa

Quinoa, a grain crop, is gluten-free pseudocereal which is highly rich in iron, fiber, protein, complex carbs, minerals, and vitamins.

It offers around 16% of the RDI that is 2.8 mg of iron per cup cooked. Also, it has several medical benefits, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

5. Tofu, Tempeh, Natto, and Soybeans

Foods derived from soybeans and particularly soybeans are packed with iron. It contains around 49% of the RDI that is 8.8 mg of it per cup.

Similarly, a fermented soybean product, natto, offers 83% of the RDI, i.e., 15 mg.

Likewise, 6 ounces (168 grams) of tempeh or tofu both provide approximately 20% of the RDI or 3–3.6 mg of iron.

Not only iron but they also contain between 10–19 grams of protein per portion and are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Final Thoughts

Hence, we have listed all the products which contain iron as well as a variety of other nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Therefore, adding them into your diet will benefit your overall health by meeting your iron requirements.

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