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Nutrition

Iron and the Plant-Based Diet

Posted on July 25, 2018

You may have been wondering just how to get enough iron in a plant-based diet.  The good news is that when you enjoy a variety of plant-based foods, you’re no more likely to be iron deficient than the general population. In fact, there are many great plant-based sources of iron you’re probably already including in your diet like grains, nuts and veggies. With just a little planning, you’re well on your way to meeting your daily recommend intake.

 

WHY DO YOU NEED IRON?

Iron is an essential mineral and an important component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin makes up your red blood cells which carry oxygen around your body. If your body is low in iron, you may start to feel fatigued, feel short of breath or have cold hands and feet. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to meet your daily recommended intake. How much iron is recommended? It’s 8 milligrams (mg) for men and 18 mg for women.

These three plant-based sources pack a serious, iron-filled punch and taste amazing, making it easy for you to get all the iron you need.

 

SPINACH

You always hear about eating your greens – and for good reason. In addition to all the other vitamins and minerals in spinach, it’s also a great source of iron. Spinach contains 3.5 mg of iron per 100 gram (g) serving, which puts you well on your way to meeting your daily iron requirements. Throw some in a smoothie, or pasta sauce. Or make a superfood salad.

 

TOFU

Tofu is another great source of iron and something many people already incorporate into plant-based meals. With 2.9 mg per 100 g serving, it’s certainly no slouch at providing iron, and it’s also a great way to add protein and calcium to a meal. Some people are not fans of the taste, but that’s usually because it hasn’t been prepared properly. With a delicious marinade, tofu can be baked in the oven, seared on a barbeque or fried on the stove.

 

TRAIL MIX

That trail mix you love isn’t just delicious. It also may be a great source of plant-based iron. Cashews, for example, have 5 mg of iron per 100 g, but other nuts have a healthy amount of iron too. Almonds provide 3.3 mg per 100 g. And if you can’t eat nuts, don’t worry. Seeds are a great plant-based source of iron too. For example, pumpkin seeds have an incredible 10 mg of iron per 100 g. So, mix up a bag of trail mix, or add nuts and seeds as a topping to your spinach salad and enjoy!

 

MAKE THE MOST OF YOU IRON WITH VITAMIN C

So now that you know how to load up on plant-based iron you’re going to want to increase your absorption to make sure your body is getting all of the benefits. Did you know that consuming vitamin C with your iron rich meals can increase absorption by six times? All the more reason to squeeze a lemon in your salad dressing, consume fruits and veggies high in vitamin C or have a small glass of orange juice with your meal.

With these plant-based sources or iron in your arsenal, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your daily requirements and feeling great. If you’re new to plant forward living, you might want to check out some of our other articles on nutrition like Omega’s for Plant-based Alphas and Why Green and Orange are Good for You.

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