One of the concerns of people following a plant-based diet is getting enough iron in their diets. Iron is important for hemoglobin formation in the blood and oxygen transport. Without enough iron, people following a plant-based diet may have anemia and become fatigued.
People following a plant-based diet only consume non-animal sources of iron, which are not absorbed as readily; therefore, need more sources of iron in their diets in order to obtain enough.
Here is a list of some of the richest sources of iron for a plant-based diet.
1. Pumpkin and squash seeds - These seeds have almost 15 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving.
2. Beans - Soybeans, white beans, lentils, lima, black, and pinto beans are good sources of iron (in descending order). One cup of cooked soybeans has almost 9 milligrams of iron, and 1 cup of cooked white beans has almost 7 milligrams.
3. Dark, leafy green veggies - Kale, spinach, chard, turnip greens and broccoli are examples of iron-rich leafy greens. Spinach has the most, at 6.4 milligrams per cup cooked.
4. Nuts and seeds - Many nuts are good sources of iron. Cashews, almonds, sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds are good sources.
5. Whole grains - Tiny, nutty-flavored quinoa boasts 6.3 milligrams of iron per cup cooked. Whole wheat has 4.6 milligrams per cup.
6. Blackstrap molasses - Two tablespoons of this dark, sweet liquid have 7.2 milligrams of iron.
7. Cruciferous vegetables - Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and broccoli are examples of cruciferous vegetables with iron content. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 1.9 milligrams of iron. Bok choy has 1.8 milligrams of iron per cup cooked.
8. Potatoes - One large potato has 3.2 milligrams of iron. Potatoes are also high in Vitamin C. Best is to have baked or boiled. Not Fried.
9. Fruits - Apricots and raisins are dried fruits that have significant iron. One-half a cup of raisins has 1.6 milligrams of iron, and 15 apricot halves contain 1.4 milligrams.
NOTE: There are a couple of things to bear in mind regarding iron absorption for people following a plant-based diet. Iron absorption is aided by Vitamin C, and many plant sources of iron also contain Vitamin C. Still, it's worthwhile to pair iron-rich foods such as nuts (which are low in Vitamin C ) with Vitamin C sources such as bell peppers, citrus fruits, or tomatoes. Also, calcium and tannins inhibit iron absorption.
Tea and coffee are sources of tannins which block the absorption of iron in the digestive system, and ideally should not be consumed at the same time as iron-rich foods. So drink it alone.