Iron is essential for proper functioning of various parts of the human body. A diet lacking in iron can lead to low energy levels, shortness of breath, headaches, irritability, dizziness or anemia. The recommended daily intake (RDI) for iron is 18mg per day.  Some iron can be found only in animal products while some can be found only in plants. The RDI for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than that for non-vegetarians.

Here are 10 iron rich foods that every vegetarian must eat:

1. Lentils

Lentils are high in iron and also contain significant amount of protein, complex carbs, fiber, folate and manganese. One cup of cooked lentils has 6.6mg of iron, which is around 37% of your total RDI. It also contains 18 grams of protein and covers around 50% of your recommended daily fiber intake.

2. Beans

Cooked beans such as white, lima, soybeans and red kidney beans contain 4.4 mg to 6.6 mg of iron per cup, or 24-37% of the RDI. Chickpeas and black-eyed peas have the highest iron content at around 4.6 – 5.2 mg per cup. They are also an excellent source of complex carbs, fiber, folate, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.

3. Nuts

Almonds, cashews, pine nuts or macadamia nuts are rich sources of iron. They contain between 1-1.6 mg of iron per ounce. They’re also a great source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

4. Seeds

Pumpkin, sesame and flaxseeds are rich in iron, containing around 1.2-4.2 mg per two tablespoons, or 7-23% of the total RDI. They’re also a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and contain good amounts of plant protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and antioxidants.

5. Leafy greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli contains around 14-36% of the total RDI. 100 grams of spinach contains 1.1 times more iron that the same amount of red meat and 3 times more than 100 grams of boiled eggs. 

6. Mushrooms

Certain varieties of mushrooms contain high amounts of iron. One cup of cooked white mushrooms contains around 2.7 mg or 15% of the RDI.

7. Olives

Technically a fruit, 100 grams of olives contain around 3.3 mg of iron or 18% of the RDI. They are also a great source of fiber, good fats and fat-soluble vitamins A and E.

8. Amaranth

Amaranth is gluten-free and contains around 5.2 mg of iron per cup cooked, or 29% of the RDI. It is also one of the few complete sources of plant proteins which contain good amounts of complex carbs, fiber, phosphorus and magnesium.

9. Oats

Eating oats is the easiest way to add iron to your diet. A cup of cooked oats contains around 3.4 mg of iron, or 19% of the RDI. It also contains a soluble fiber called beta-glucan which helps promote gut health.

10. Quinoa

Quinoa offers around 2.8 mg of iron per cup cooked or 16% of the RDI. It is also rich in antioxidants and lowers the risk of blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

These are some of the must include iron-rich foods in every vegetarian’s diet. You can also try supplementing with iron-rich products available here at MyNutraMart.