Start adding some of these iron-rich vegetables to your daily menu to prevent anemia and to feel more energetic! The best way to absorb the iron from these plants is to consume them with vitamin C foods like lemon juice or raw peppers!
Iron is one of the most important minerals that our body uses to make hemoglobin and myoglobin. Both of them are proteins that play essential roles in the human body. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, while myoglobin has the task of providing oxygen to muscles.
Since 70% of the iron in the body is found in red blood cells, any blood loss can lead to iron deficiency and anemia. Another 25% of the iron is stored in the body in a blood protein called ferritin. Ferritin not only stores the iron but also releases it when needed. Males usually have as much as 1000 mg of stored iron, which is enough for about three years, while women have only 300 mg, which will be enough for around six months.
The daily requirement for iron is 8mg for adult men, 18 mg for women aged 19-49, and 8 mg for women aged 50 and over.
Now, to help you fill up your reserves, save this list of iron-rich vegetables that you can consume on a daily basis. This can help you maintain healthy levels of iron, without the negative impact of eating red meat or taking supplements every day. Make sure you eat foods rich in vitamin C together with high-iron vegetables because vitamin C leads to better absorption of plant iron.
1. Spinach (6.6 mg Iron per cup, cooked)
Spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables that is also high in iron with only one cup delivering 37% /82% of the daily need for iron (women/men). This vitamin-packed leafy green is also an excellent source of both zeaxanthin and carotenoids, which protect our body from free radicals as well as cell damage. Enjoy the spinach in smoothies, salads, in these falafels or add it to rice-based dishes. You can find some tasty healthy spinach recipes here.
2. Cooked Peas (3.8 mg Iron per cup)
These small spherical seeds are not only super healthy and delicious but one of the vegetables highest in iron as well. Only one cup is enough to cover 21 % / 48% of the recommended daily value for iron (women/men). Being an excellent source of Vitamins C, K, and A as well as antioxidants, peas can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. They are also rich in plant-based protein and fiber, which makes peas really filling and good for the digestive system. You can cook peas and enjoy as a side with rice, with potatoes, with meat, in salads or soups.
3. Boiled Sweet Potatoes (2.4 mg Iron per cup)
Being a staple in many homes, sweet potatoes are also vegetables high in iron with one cup of mashed sweet potatoes covering 13% or 30% of the daily need respectively for women and men. Although they may come in many colors and sizes, they all have one thing in common; sweet potatoes are super delicious and loaded with essential nutrients. They are a great source of vitamin A as well as manganese and copper.
Sweet potatoes are so versatile that you can use them in a variety of dishes from healthy starters to yummy main dishes, power bowls and even desserts.
4. Cooked Asparagus (1.6 mg Iron per cup)
Asparagus is a member of the lily family and can come in different colors, such as green, white, and purple. This high-iron vegetable is a great source of both vitamin K and folate and helps support a healthy pregnancy. Asparagus is low in calories but rich in dietary fiber, which makes it an excellent choice for a weight-loss diet.
Serve asparagus as a side or use in salads or rice dishes.
5. Kale (1.1 mg Iron per cup, cooked)
Kale is a superfood and one of the vegetables with a relatively high content of iron. Although not as iron-rich as spinach, kale is worth adding to your diet not only because one cup provides you with 1.1 gr of iron but because of its numerous health benefits as well. This cruciferous veggie, which is extremely high in antioxidants and vitamins, can also lower cholesterol levels. Its low-calorie content promotes weight loss with one cup of cooked kale delivering only 47 calories.
6. Brussels Sprouts (1.9 mg Iron per cup, cooked)
If you want to eat more vegetables that have iron, then these miniature cabbage heads should certainly be on your wish list. Brussels sprouts are not only one of the healthiest iron-rich vegetables but they are also one of the best sources of vitamins K and C. They are known to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and as a result, decrease the risk of diabetes.
Brussels sprouts are really easy to add to your diet both raw in salads and cooked in pasta, frittatas, or stir-fries. When not in season, you can always buy frozen ones and serve them roasted as a healthy side.
7. Broccoli (1 mg Iron per cup cooked)
There’s hardly any vegetable that’s more famous for its health benefits than broccoli. This cruciferous high-iron vegetable is full of vitamins, minerals as well as bioactive components that may protect cells from damage and certain types of cancer. The calcium found in broccoli contributes to good bone and joint health and the dietary fiber promotes gut health.
8. Beets (1.1 mg Iron per cup, raw)
These vibrant, colorful iron-rich vegetables have an earthy flavor and are known for their highly nutritious profile. Beets can improve athletic performance as well as brain health.
If you need a quick iron boost, then make yourself fresh beetroot juice. It is an excellent source of vitamin C as well which means that the iron will be absorbed to the fullest extent. Beetroot juice is great not only for people suffering from anemia (deficiency of iron) but also for those with high blood pressure.
You can also enjoy raw beets in salads like this one.
9. Beet greens (2.7 Iron per cup cooked)
Beetroots are delicious iron-rich vegetables, but beet greens have even higher nutritional value than them. These high-iron greens are a great source of vitamins K, potassium, and magnesium. Their high content of beta carotene and lutein greatly benefits eye health. Vitamin B6 can fight depression and as a result, improves mood and mental health.
So, next time you are making a green salad, make sure you add some happiness in the form of fresh baby beet greens. And if you need a quick and healthy side, then sautéd beet greens are your best bet.
10. Swiss Chard (1.8 mg Iron per 3.5 oz raw)
Swiss chard, similar to other green leafy vegetables is a nutritional powerhouse; it is low in calories but loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including iron. Like kale and spinach, it is often called a superfood because its powerful antioxidants protect our body from cell damage and inflammation. It is also a great source of plant-based calcium which makes it suitable for people on a dairy-free diet.
Whether cooked or raw, Swiss chard is one of the healthiest veggies, so make sure you get a good supply of it while it is in season.
11. Canned Tomatoes (1.6 mg Iron per cup cooked)
We all know that fresh tomatoes are excellent for salads and packed with vitamins and nutrients, but when it comes to high-iron vegetables, canned or cooked tomatoes are a better choice. This is also a smart way to enjoy them when they aren’t in season. Although cooking may often deteriorate the nutritional value of veggies, canned tomatoes are generally higher in iron and lycopene than fresh ones. Lycopene is an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color and has powerful anti-cancer properties.
Canned tomatoes are affordable and easily available, so make sure you always have a fair amount of them in your pantry. They are excellent for pasta, pizza, and all sort of tomato-based sauces.
More Healthy Foods To Enjoy
Well, I hope you enjoy these iron-rich vegetables and add them to your diet! For more healthy foods you need to eat more often, check out these: