Our Top Iron Rich Vegetarian Foods

by / Mar 16, 2022
Our Top Iron Rich Vegetarian Foods
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Iron is an important nutrient with essential roles in several functions in the body. It is a component of several proteins, including enzymes and hemoglobin. Consuming iron rich vegetarian foods is essential for maintaining good health.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Why is iron important for your health?

Iron participates in a wide variety of metabolic processes such as oxygen transport, DNA synthesis and transport of electrons. The recommended average intake of iron is 18 mg per day. However, this intake may vary depending on gender and life stage. For example, women in the post-menopause stage and men usually require around 8 mg of iron per day
Pregnant women need 27 g of iron per day, while menstruating women require 18 g daily iron intake. Vegetarians and vegans need 1.8 times higher recommended daily intake (RDI) to compensate for the iron in foods they do not consume.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Iron deficiency can cause serious health problems

A diet that doesn’t provide the body with enough iron can cause several health problems, including anemia. According to WHO, “anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal. Haemoglobin is needed to carry oxygen, and if you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or not enough haemoglobin, there will be a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. This results in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath, among others”. The same organisation estimates that “42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic”.
Mild and moderate anemia can affect cognitive development, learning ability, immunity mechanisms, and work capacity. Iron deficiency can have adverse outcomes for the mother and the baby during pregnancy, including increased risk of sepsis and low birth weight.
Iron deficiency can be caused by low iron intake, unmet iron requirements during a period of rapid growth, menstruation and blood loss caused by pathologic infections.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="32482" img_size="large"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Iron contained in foods

Dietary iron exists in two forms: heme and nonheme. Consuming meat, poultry and fish, provide heme iron whilst nonheme iron is obtained from fruits, vegetables, nuts and certain cereals. Nonheme iron generally has a higher contribution to nutrition than heme iron, but its absorption in the body can be a bit more difficult.
Here is our list of top iron rich vegetarian foods:
  • tofu, soybeans, lentils, tempeh, natto and lima;
  • red kidney and navy beans; 
  • chickpeas and black-eyed peas;
  • leafy greens such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard and beet greens;
  • tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms;
  • olives, mulberries, prune juice;
  • dried apricots, dried dates and dried figs.
Nuts and seeds like pine nuts and cashews, pumpkin, hemp, sesame and flaxseeds contain Nonheme iron. 
Whole grains such as Spelt, amaranth, quinoa and oats also represent fair sources of iron.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Three delicious iron rich vegetarian foods recipes to boost your iron intake

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Super healthy lentil ragu

1 bag of 500 grams dried red lentils
500 g spaghetti
3 tbsp olive oil
2 finely chopped onions
3 finely chopped carrots
3 finely chopped celery sticks
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp each dried oregano and thyme
3 bay leaves
1 litre vegetable stock
plus parmesan or vegetarian cheese to serve[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]How to prepare it:
Put the olive oil in a large saucepan, heat it and add the chopped onions, carrots and celery with the crushed garlic. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes until they get soft. Stir in the lentils, the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs and the vegetable stock. 
Heat to a simmer, then simmer gently for 40-50 minutes until the lentils are tender. Add water if needed and seasoning.
Cook the spaghetti according to instructions on the pack. Drain the spaghetti and place them on bowls or plates. Add the sauce on top and grate it with cheese. 
 Cool the sauce and chill in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the sauce and store it for up to 3 months, obtaining a quick meal whenever you need it. Simply defrost overnight at room temperature and reheat to serve.
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="32477" img_size="medium"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Moroccan chickpea soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 chopped celery sticks
2 tsp ground cumin
600 ml hot vegetable stock
1 x 400g can of chopped plum tomatoes with garlic
1 x 400g can of rinsed and drained chickpeas
100g frozen broad beans
zest and juice from half a lemon
coriander or parsley
ground black pepper
plus flatbread to serve[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]How to prepare it:
Put the olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion and celery for 10 minutes. Stir continuously until they are softened. Add the cumin and fry for another minute.
Increase the heat and add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, chickpeas, and ground black pepper. Simmer everything together for 8 minutes. 
Add the broad beans and lemon juice, cooking for an extra 2 minutes. Season with ground black pepper, coriander or parsley, lemon zest and juice.
Serve with flatbread.
Bon appétit!
Recipe adapted from BBC Food[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="32476" img_size="medium"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Quick salad with spicy corn, black beans and feta

For the salad
2 sweet corn
1 x 400g can of drained and rinsed black beans 
1 avocado cut into chunks
200g cherry tomatoes cut in halves
4 roughly chopped spring onions
100g of crumbled feta cheese 
Optional: lime wedges to serve[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]For the dressing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chipotle or regular Tabasco sauce 
juice and zest from 2 limes
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]How to prepare it:
Boil the sweet corn in salted water for 10 minutes. Rinse it in cold water and cut off the kernels. 
Put the corn into a large bowl add the black beans, the tomatoes halves and the chunks of avocado.
Prepare the dressing by mixing the ingredients with the seasonings and pour it over the salad. Mix everything, top with feta and serve with lime wedges if wanted.
Recipe adapted from BBC Food
For more iron rich vegetarian foods recipes, check our recipes section.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]