As an essential nutrient, iron is necessary for numerous bodily processes or functions. One, in particular, is transporting oxygen to the different parts of the body. Because of this, healthcare professionals recommend adding iron-rich foods like various meat products in your diet. But, what if you prefer fruits and vegetables? Don’t worry. There are numerous plant-based products you can consume. To give you a better idea, here are the common plant sources of iron.
Spirulina is an edible seaweed that is now gaining popularity all over the world. The main reason is due to the myriad of benefits this food provides.
For example, it is one of the best plant sources of iron. In fact, you can get about 28.5 mg of iron for every 100 grams of this blue-green algae. But, there’s more. Zeaxanthin is another valuable compound present in spirulina. Basically, this carotenoid can help improve your eye’s health and reduce your risk of developing cataracts.
Other important nutrients available in this nutritious food are proteins, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
Another common product rich in iron is soybeans. Aside from iron, this type of legume is also a popular source of plant proteins. As such, various kinds of soybean products are available in the market such as tofu, tempeh, and natto.
Basically, 100 grams of soybeans has about 15.7 mg of iron. Aside from that, you can also get other essential nutrients like phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. But, you have to make sure to choose organic and non-GMO soybean products.
Moreover, if you’re searching for a highly nutritious product made of this bean, you can try natto. This fermented soybean has an unusual flavor, but it is also a highly recommended gut-friendly food.
However, keep in mind that not all soybean products have the same iron contents. Here are the estimated amounts of iron for every 100 grams of the food.
- Natto – 8.6 mg
- Tofu – 5.4 mg
- Tempeh – 2.7 mg
Soybeans are not the bean with high iron contents. In fact, a lot of legumes are excellent plant sources of iron. As you know, these tiny crops are also loaded with proteins, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Aside from that, you can also get essential nutrients such as folate, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus.
But, which legumes should you pick? Here are the best beans, peas, and lentils you can try along with the amount of iron you can get for every 100 grams of the crop.
- Kidney beans – 9.4 mg
- Lentils – 7.5 mg
- Lima beans – 7.5 mg
- Chickpeas – 6.2 mg
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a well-liked product with extremely high iron contents. In fact, for every 100 grams of this bitter-sweet food, you can get about 11.9 mg of iron. But, that’s not all.
As you probably know, dark chocolate is one of the most effective mood-boosting foods. Furthermore, this product is also rich in antioxidants. Thus, eating this all-time favorite treat can help combat free radicals – the leading cause of health concerns like premature aging, heart problems, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another food group in this list of plant sources of iron is seeds. Aside from iron, the most valuable nutrients in these crops are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Basically, these healthy fats are necessary for a healthy heart and brain. Thus, adding seeds to your daily meals can greatly benefit your body. The best part is that you can easily incorporate these foods into your diet. Take chia seeds as an example. You can simply add it to your favorite smoothie or juice recipes.
With that, here are the iron contents (per 100 grams) of the popular seeds in the market.
- Sesame – 14.6 mg
- Hemp – 7.95 mg
- Chia – 7.7 mg
- Flaxseeds – 5.7 mg
Most health experts recommend eating nuts for your afternoon snack because of the numerous benefits you can get from these products.
An example is almonds. By consuming 100 grams of this popular nut, you will not only get about 3.7 mg of iron. You can also strengthen your immune system during the process.
Other highly recommended nuts along with their iron contents (in every 100 grams) are:
- Cashews – 6.7 mg
- Peanuts – 4.6 mg
- Pistachios – 3.9 mg
- Macadamias – 3.7 mg
Overall, adding these foods to your diet will greatly improve your health. But, don’t forget to consume these crops with foods rich in vitamin C. Keep in mind that vitamin C can increase your body’s ability to absorb the iron found in plant-based products (non-heme iron).
- Iron (Vegan Health)
- Iron in the Vegan Diet (VRG)
- Iron Contents of Foods (USDA)
- Spirulina (University of Maryland)