Top 10 Vegetables High in Iron
Why do you need to eat foods that contain iron? To start with, iron arguably is one of the most vital nutrients our body needs. The sad fact though, up to 8 out of 10 people the whole world over is estimated to be deficient in the mineral, with anemia being the most common complication. Among those who are at greater risk for acquiring such condition include 1) pregnant women and women of reproductive age, particularly those with heavy bleeding period; 2) those with unhealthy diet, even those vegetarians who aren’t consuming enough iron-rich food in replacement of meat; and 3) people with cancer, heart failure, or gastrointestinal issues among others. Symptoms may include fatigue, paleness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Shellfish, red meats, liver, and other organ meats are extremely rich in this mineral. In the plant kingdom, green leafy vegetables are the most notable source, and contrary to popular belief, it is not limited to that. In this list, we classify the top 10 vegetables high in iron. This information is particularly important since as shown above, foods that contain iron the most are mostly non-vegetarian meals, obviously posing a problem with those who exclude meat from their dietary program. These vegetables will rightly recompense the needed daily amount of the mineral. Speaking of which, the recommended dietary allowance for males over 19 years old is 8 mg per day. Women have higher needs including 10 mg/day for lactating mothers, 18 mg/day for women whose age fall between 19 and 50, and 27 mg/day for pregnant women.
Vegetable foods have the nonheme type of iron, making them actually healthier than their meat counterpart. In maintaining an adequate amount of iron in the body, nonheme is absorbed much easier than heme iron at a rate of up to 20%, making sure that a toxic iron overconsumption is less likely to happen. In fact, heme iron can interfere with the body’s way of regulating iron absorption. This is especially aggravated by the fact that our body has no way of eliminating the excess amount of the mineral. Clearly, consuming the vegetable foods listed below is a greater option for your iron intake.
10 Vegetable Foods that Contain Iron
Vegetables High in Iron – Legumes
Legumes as a group include lentils, which contain one of the highest amounts of iron with 1 cup of raw lentils having 12.5 mg. That is equivalent to 69% DV or Daily Value, meaning that the serving provides you with 69% of the mineral your body needs per day. The same 1 cup serving for cooked one slightly reduced the iron content to 6.6 mg or 37% DV. Being versatile and cheap is a plus when consuming lentils. Soybeans meanwhile won’t go unnoticed without a good fight. Boasting an 8.84 mg of iron per cup, cooked and unsalted mature soybeans is a must. Even a 4.5 mg of the same serving for cooked and unsalted green soybeans isn’t bad enough. Lastly, we have peas, giving off a decent 2.1 mg still for the same serving or 12% DV.
Vegetables High in Iron – Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes are perhaps everybody’s first choice before the fresh ones. With a sweet-tart flavor more intense and potent, these versatile vegetable foods are great not just for their mouth-watering taste but also for being one of the most effective foods that contain iron. A serving size of 1 cup can give you 4.9 to 5 mg of the mineral, so that’s amounting to 27% DV. Speaking of versatility, they can be used in many ways; be it a classic addition to pasta, pizza, and salads among others. What’s more? You can get vitamin C, antioxidants, and of course, the highly notorious lycopene.
Vegetables High in Iron – Raw Parsley
This common garnish that is usually taken for granted in cooking can actually control diabetes, manage cancer, and even help regulate arthritis. They are that high in vital nutrients, including iron, offering 4 mg of the mineral in a cup of serving. That also means a milligram per 4 tablespoons of it. So get the most out of their versatility by including them in a wide variety of dishes, taking advantage of their being one of the most common culinary decorations. Dice or mince them up and add them to your soup, or salad, or of course pasta sauces. Not only do they freshen up your food all the more, they obviously are highly nutritious too.
Vegetables High in Iron – Kale
A type of green, leafy vegetable, kale is considered to have more nutritional value than its cousin spinach sans iron (more on that later). Its decent 1.17 to 1.22 mg per cup of serving size, a 6% DV, is still helpful at increasing your daily iron intake. The good catch? You can consume as many as you want without worrying about your calorie intake. With its health benefits ranging from regulating glucose level in diabetes, reducing the risk of cancer, to managing blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, kale is a tasty and nutritious addition to your dietary program. Use them as a side dish or in salads and smoothies.
Vegetables High in Iron – Beets
Beets are an edible root that is usually dark red in color and spherical in shape. As with other tap roots, beets are generally consumed and used in cooking as a vegetable. Canned and drained solid beets have 3.1 mg of iron per 1 cup of serving size. Cooked and unsalted beet greens meanwhile have 2.74 mg per cup while cooked beets have 1.34. This is aside from all other vitamins and mineral you can get such as calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. You can consume the greens with the root itself. Toss them in pizza and any other dishes of your preference and enjoy its high level of iron.
Vegetables High in Iron – Collard Greens
This type of leafy greens that do not develop a heart unlike the usual cabbage is very popular particularly among the vegetarians due to its high amount of antioxidants which can help reduce the risk of cancer, calcium, vitamin A and C, and of course iron among all the other vital nutrients. In fact, the vitamin C found in it allows the body to easily absorb the mineral. Cooked and unsalted collards can offer 1.9 to 2.2 mg of iron, which is equivalent to 12% DV, in a cup of serving size. You can use raw collard greens when making a salad to get the most out of it. Or eat them together with any animal-based source of the mineral for better iron absorption.
Vegetables High in Iron – Spirulina
Spirulina, though technically is a type of blue-green algae harvested from unpolluted bodies of water such as a pond and is well-known for its powerful nutritional value, is taken as a vegetable so it rightfully should be included on this list. Along with iron, it also is rich in other essential nutrients including vitamins B complex, C, D, and E, protein, antioxidants, and calcium among others. No wonder it is often considered the most nutrient dense food, containing the aforesaid nutrients in excellent amount. As with iron, 1 cup of dried spirulina seaweed has a staggering 31.9 mg of iron, or tantamount to 177% DV! A hundred gram will give you 2.8 mg or 16% DV already.
Vegetables High in Iron – Spinach
Eating cooked and unsalted spinach is the best way to get the most out of the vegetable’s iron content. With 6.43 mg per cup of serving size, it is far from the benefit of raw one with only .8 mg per cup, since cooking it down means getting more iron per spoonful. Canned and drained solid spinach, on the other hand, has 4.9 to 5 mg while frozen one has 3.7 mg, all for the same 1 cup serving size. That is why this superfood is Popeye’s favorite meal to make him stronger. Without digressing though, it is also brimming with vitamin C, providing no trouble in absorbing all the necessary mineral.
Vegetables High in Iron – Broccoli
The often hated broccoli, particularly among the children, is in actuality a potent source of the coveted iron. Cooked and unsalted broccoli can provide 1.1 mg of iron while a raw one has .64 mg. For another comparison, half a cup of serving size of broccoli has .3 mg of iron, which is 2% DV. It may not be that much but it still is a decent number. Plus, they are also high in vitamin C, again helping the body absorb and digest the consumed mineral.
Vegetables High in Iron – Turnip Greens and Cabbage
Last in our list are two related vegetable foods. Turnip greens, which are the edible leafy green section, including the stem, of the turnip plant, have 1.15 mg of iron and could go as high as 3.2 mg. You can sauté them with lemon juice and/or red bell pepper, both of which contain vitamin C to help boost the body’s iron absorption. Cabbage, on one hand, is among the same family of broccoli. It is also high in other nutrients including dietary fibers, vitamin C and K, and sugars. Now, what are you waiting for? Start the habit of consuming vegetables high in iron and benefit from all the nutritional values it naturally contains.