Yes- beef may be one of the richest sources of iron out there, but it doesn’t mean it is the only source. There are many other foods high in iron (a lot of vegan ones too) that can give you a good amount of this important mineral without taking iron supplements or eating red meat.
Since iron is so essential to red blood cells which carry oxygen to keep us alive and functioning well, conditions like iron deficiency anemia are not to be taken lightly. All these foods are good sources of iron- if you don’t care to eat beef or organ meats.
Foods High in Iron
First here are a few animal sources for this essential nutrient. While plant sources are fantastic, these are a source of heme iron, the type that absorbs most readily in our bodies.
Clams are an outstanding source of iron. A single serving boasts 132% of you daily iron needs. You will also get a giant helping of energizing B12 and lots of selenium, manganese, phosphorus and copper along with many other minerals.
Turkey meat, especially the dark variety, is an excellent source of iron, with a 100 g portion giving you 2.3 mg of the mineral. Plus, it is also rich in protein, which can leave you feeling full and improve your metabolic rate as well.
Vegan Foods High in Iron
Now here are plant based iron rich foods.
One thing to remember though is it is not just the amount of iron in a food that is important but also how the body absorbs it. Plants only provide non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well and effected by the overall composition of a meal.
Spinach is literally the best veggie that can give you a big dose of nutrients for very few calories. While it does contain the non-heme form of iron, which isn’t that readily absorbed, it also contains vitamin C, which helps this form of iron get absorbed easily, and also packs in a good amount of antioxidants which decrease inflammation and reduce your risk of cancer too.
Pumpkin seeds are already known to be a super healthy snack option, and you’ll be surprised to know that just a 1 ounce serving can give you a whopping 23% of your daily recommended intake of iron. In addition, these seeds also pack in loads of other essential minerals including zinc, manganese and vitamin K.
Lentils are literally powerhouses of both- protein and iron. Half a cup of cooked lentils can give you 9 g of protein and 3.5 g of iron, which is impressive. Plus, lentils also give you a good dose of antioxidants that can significantly slash your risk of chronic diseases. Best of all, lentils are super versatile as well. Try my easy Stewed Lentils pictured above.
Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies on the planet, and just 1 cup of cooked broccoli can give your body 6% of your daily required iron content. What’s more, broccoli also gives your body many additional vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and loads of fiber too. Try this Oven Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan with your family.
This one’s probably going to be your favorite one from this list- dark chocolate isn’t just delicious, but is also packed with antioxidants- and just a 1 ounce serving can give you 3.3 mg of iron, which is great. Plus, it also contains prebiotic fiber which can help nourish the good bacteria in your gut.
If spinach isn’t your thing, Swiss chard is another great option. One cup of these leafy greens (in cooked form) can get you 4 mg of iron- and that’s not all- you’ll also get an impressive amount of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium and protein. Try to add more of this one to your smoothies and stir fries and you’re sorted. Need a recipe idea? Try this Sauteed Greens and Onions recipe from Eating Richly.