5 Sources Of Iron For Vegetarians

Iron, one of the most important minerals in our diet, plays an important role in maintaining our energy levels. Not getting enough iron can result in the deficiency known as anemia, putting you at risk of various health problems.

Gender plays an important role in determining how much of the nutrient you need. It is recommended that adult men aim for a daily iron intake of 8 mg while adult women (who have not hit menopause) aim for 18 mg, which is more than double.

However, you don't necessarily have to eat meat to meet these requirements. Here are five dietary sources of iron that also happen to be vegetarian-friendly.

1. Spinach

Both raw and cooked spinach are good options, though the latter may be easier for absorption of nutrients. Just one cup of cooked spinach can provide more than 6 mg of iron. In addition, the leafy green vegetable also offers vitamin A, calcium, vitamin E, fiber, and potassium.

2. Chickpeas

Also referred to as garbanzo beans, nutrition experts highly recommend including these legumes in a vegetarian diet. They are estimated to contain around 5 mg of iron per cup, making them a healthy and versatile ingredient to add to your meals.

The fiber content in chickpeas can also help you feel full longer, while soluble fiber, in particular, can help in the reduction of bad cholesterol i.e. LDL cholesterol. They can also provide a good dose of other nutrients such as protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. 

3. Fortified cereals

A breakfast cereal fortified with iron is just the kind of energy-boost to start the day with. Certain varieties may even provide 90 to 100 percent of the daily recommended value. 

However, read the nutritional label to make sure that the sugar content is not too high. Breakfast cereals have been found to use excessive quantities of added sugars, contributing to the rise of childhood obesity.

4. Potatoes

With regards to iron content, the type of potato you consume makes a difference. According to Self, one russet potato can provide 1.5 mg of iron while one red potato can provide 2.1 mg of iron. On the other hand, one large baked potato including the skin can provide over 3 mg of iron.

The vegetable can offer other health benefits by maintaining blood pressure, improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

5. Blackstrap Molasses

Over 3 mg of iron can be found in one tablespoon of this sweetener. "Like the other plant-based varieties, this iron is non-heme so have it with another source of iron or vitamin C," said registered dietitian Isabel Smith.

"Blackstrap molasses is packed with antioxidants and other nutrients like bone-healthy calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamins B6 and the thyroid-healthy selenium," she added.