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Iron Rich Vegetables: Sources of Iron for Vegetarians

Updated on June 13, 2015
Brocolli, fresh parsley, peas and beans are some potent iron rich vegetables that can be enjoyed as part of daily diet.
Brocolli, fresh parsley, peas and beans are some potent iron rich vegetables that can be enjoyed as part of daily diet. | Source

Top 10 Fruits Rich in Iron

Dates, pomegranate and raisins are just some of the fruits rich in iron. Read more about fruits rich in iron here:

Top 10 Fruits High in Iron - Increase Haemoglobin Level

Get your blood pumping with Iron Rich Vegetables

Lacking in Iron? Have you been diagnosed with iron deficiency, otherwise known as anemia? Or are you a vegetarian simply looking for more iron rich vegetable sources to add to your daily diet? Whatever the case, it pays to know the benefits of including iron rich sources in your dietary intake in order to better appreciate the functions of this important mineral.

Without iron, most organisms in the world, including humans, would not be alive today. Our bodies cannot produce iron on its own and we need to supply our bodies with iron rich sources regularly.

Red meat and organ meats are commonly recognized as iron-dense sources, but many vegetables and legumes are iron rich as well. Iron rich vegetables are often characterized by dark green colored leaves, and are often slightly bitter. Many beans and legumes are rich in iron as well.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

  1. Constant fatigue and lethargy
  2. Slow physical and mental development in children
  3. Poor performance in school for children
  4. Inflamed tongue (Glossitis)
  5. Problems regulating proper body temperature
  6. Weak immune system

Health Benefits of Eating Iron Rich Vegetables Daily

  • Iron is an essential mineral in our body for forming hemoglobin, the red pigment in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body.

  • Without red blood cells, how would essential nutrients and energy be supplied to the various organs in our body?
  • Iron rich vegetables also help prevent anemia and also protect people susceptible to anemia from iron deficiency especially pregnant mothers.
  • Iron is involved in the conversion of blood glucose into energy to be used by body cells
  • Children require iron for proper physical and mental growth and development
  • Iron is required for the efficient functioning of the immune system.

Iron is highly important in the formation of red blood cells, which make up 42% - 47% of a healthy adult's blood.
Iron is highly important in the formation of red blood cells, which make up 42% - 47% of a healthy adult's blood. | Source

List of top iron rich vegetables

Meat is not the only best source of iron rich foods – even vegetarian sources are highy potent. Let’s take a look at the top iron rich sources in vegetables and legumes.

Note: RDA% refers to the percentage Recommended Daily Allowance of the nutrient, i.e. iron, for a healthy adult.

1. Mushrooms Amongst mushrooms, the type with the highest source of iron are Morel mushrooms . Morel mushrooms are prized in gourmet cooking and among fitness gurus for their low calorie value and meaty texture. They have a hollow stem and a deep brown honeycomb textured top. They are not widely available but can be found during season in local farmers markets.

Measurement
RDA% of Iron
One Serving
68%
Just take a look at the RDA% in one serving of morel mushrooms. Have a cup of these, and you will have satisfied more than your iron requirement for the day.

2. Lemon grass Widely used in Thai cooking, lemon grass is a citrus flavoured grass that is commonly used to flavour soups, curries and special teas.

Measurement
RDA%
One serving
35%

3. Swiss chard A leafy green vegetable commonly used in Mediterranean cooking, it has deep green or reddish thick leaves. It is a super-green with many different phytonutrients and antioxidants, as well as a healthy serving of iron.

Measurement
RDA%
1 serving, cooked
22%

4. Chickpeas Also known as Garbanzo beans, chick peas are a delicious legume, rich in iron as well as other potent nutrients.

Measurement
Iron Content
100 g
6.2 mg

5. Beans Beans are leguminous seeds that come in pods and they are present in many varieties, from white skinned, deep red skinned, green skinned to black skinned. Not only are they rich in iron, but they are also rich in protein, making them a good foods source for vegetarians and vegans alike. Take a look at this table showing different beans, plus their iron content.

Type of bean
Iron Content/1 cup serving
Kidney bean
3.93mg
Lima bean
4.4mg
Black bean
3.6 mg
Navy bean
4.3 mg
Soy bean
8.8 mg (per 172 gms)
White bean
5.8mg (per 3/4 cup)

6. Spinach Perhaps the most popular of dark green vegetables, spinach is a high nutritional vegetable, brimming with many antioxidants. It is a powerful iron source and can be eaten almost daily. Cooked spinach contains a higher iron content than fresh spinach. With many greens, you may notice that some nutrients are absorbed better when cooked.

Measurement
Iron Content
180g, cooked
6.43 mg

7. Lentils Also known as pulses, these are part of the legume family and are dense in a variety of nutrients, not just iron, including protein, manganese and folic acid.

Measurement
Iron content
1 cup, boiled
6.6 mg

8. Parsley Fresh and light, parsley is recognized as a potent and sweet tasting leafy vegetable to juice. It is a relative of celery and is popularly used as table garnish. The nutrients in parsley have been studied to inhibit tumor growth in the lungs, among other benefits.

One of the most popular herbs in the world, parsley contains a significant amount of iron essential for hemoglobin formation. 2 tablespoons of parsley contain 0.47 mg of iron. This is about 2.6 % of the daily recommended value of iron.

Measurement
Iron Content (RDA)
2 tablespoons
2.6%

Pictures of Some Iron Rich Vegetables & Meal Suggestions

Morel Mushrooms are a highly dense source of dietary iron for the body. Eat them when in season as part of your stir fry or toss them in soup for a creamy dinner meal. Note: Picture is not of morel mushrooms, but of normal mushroom variety.
Morel Mushrooms are a highly dense source of dietary iron for the body. Eat them when in season as part of your stir fry or toss them in soup for a creamy dinner meal. Note: Picture is not of morel mushrooms, but of normal mushroom variety. | Source
Chick peas or Garbanzo beans are not only delicious, but are great sources of iron too! Sprout them, stew them, make a curry out of them or eat them with rice, and enjoy the benefits of this iron rich legume.
Chick peas or Garbanzo beans are not only delicious, but are great sources of iron too! Sprout them, stew them, make a curry out of them or eat them with rice, and enjoy the benefits of this iron rich legume. | Source
Beans, so many varieties of them! Most beans are rich in iron, as well as many other important nutrients. Don't avoid beans for the fear of gas! Toss in some garlic (a potent gas buster and digestive soother) along with your beans next time!
Beans, so many varieties of them! Most beans are rich in iron, as well as many other important nutrients. Don't avoid beans for the fear of gas! Toss in some garlic (a potent gas buster and digestive soother) along with your beans next time! | Source
Brocolli, the king of crucifers and hailed as a cancer cure, is a rich source of iron that you shouldn't shy away from.
Brocolli, the king of crucifers and hailed as a cancer cure, is a rich source of iron that you shouldn't shy away from. | Source
Parsely is rich in iron too! Sprinkle in your salad or juice it in your green punch and get not only the detox benefits but also the iron content!
Parsely is rich in iron too! Sprinkle in your salad or juice it in your green punch and get not only the detox benefits but also the iron content! | Source
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is measured a percentage set against every 100g of produce. Photo credit: healthmunsta.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is measured a percentage set against every 100g of produce. Photo credit: healthmunsta.

Other iron rich vegetables

These vegetable iron sources are not as iron dense as the ones explored above – however, they are still fairly potent sources and must not be ignored.

9. Broccoli This cruciferous vegetable contains a significant 0.66 mg of iron per 91 grams. Broccoli is also loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C, vitamin K for proper blood clotting and folate, essential for cell repair.

10. Collard Greens ½ cup of collard greens contains 2 mg of iron. 100 grams of collard greens contains 0.19 mg of iron. Eating a cup of cooked collard greens everyday can give you a 12.2% daily value of iron.

11. Turnip green This bitter tasting vegetable, known for its high levels of calcium is a very good source of iron. 1 cup of turnip greens contains about 1.15 mg to 2 mg of iron.

12. Kale There is 1.17 mg of iron per 130 g of cooked kale. Steamed kale is most beneficial for lowering high cholesterol levels in the body. Kale is also rich in a wide variety of phyto-nutrients that help steer away cancer-causing compounds.

13. Brussels sprouts One cup of raw brussels sprouts contains 1.23 mg of iron. Brussels sprouts are also highly rich in immune boosting Vitamin C, vitamin K for proper healing of wounds and vitamin A for night vision.

14. Green peas 100 grams of green peas contain 1.4 mg of iron. Green peas are rich in phyto-nutrients that have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Hello, I am healthmunsta, a young health enthusiast with a huge passion for natural healing and natural health. If you like what I do, then please support me by sharing my work on Facebook. Thanks!

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    • profile image

      Edmund 3 years ago

      Wow, spectacular article, I must say! I have learnt a lot indeed.

    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      thebiologyofleah 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great information here- I am not a vegetarian but I don't eat too much meat so I try to make up my iron requirements with greens and beans. Thanks for adding more options to the list for me to try out!

    • healthmunsta profile image
      Author

      healthmunsta 3 years ago

      @ Edmund: Thank you, for your succinct comment!

      @thebiologyofleah: I am immensely grateful that you dropped by to leave me a word! Thank you for your comment and I'm always glad to be of help!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      This is such a great resource on sources of iron. Getting iron from veggies gives you additional fibers for better health. Thumbs up my friend.

    • healthmunsta profile image
      Author

      healthmunsta 3 years ago

      Hi jpcmc! Thank you for leaving your comment, I appreciate it!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great information about iron rich vegetables. Voted up.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for this informative and attractive hub making us aware of the importance of iron in our diet.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      healthmunsta, thanks for sharing such a useful information. Quite often we ignore such information while making choices of vegetables but it is easy to make better choices once we know it. Voted up and Useful.

    • healthmunsta profile image
      Author

      healthmunsta 3 years ago

      Thanks, everyone! More and more people are running out to get iron supplements, yet they can get iron naturally by eating iron rich foods.

    • profile image

      Adriana 3 years ago

      Buna treaba Iron Rich Vegetables: Sources of Iron for Vegetarians! Super site: ora exacta.

    • profile image

      S K G Rao.C Text A T I ( Manchester ) 3 years ago

      Will Iron Rich Vegetables improve body muscle and power for sports persons.If so:-

      Then why eat dead animals to grow muscles and its strength please.Will our muscle strength improve by eating only vegetables and with out eating animals.

    • healthmunsta profile image
      Author

      healthmunsta 3 years ago

      Hi SKG Rao,

      I have eaten meats my whole life; eggs, chicken, lamb etc. Personally, I am SICK of meat. I am tired of eating unnatural, factory-reared meats. The conditions in which cows and chicken are reared are baffling, unhumanitarian and cruel. Imagine the vibrational frequencies of these animals that grow up in squalid conditions. Yes, all food has a vibrational frequency, and you are what you eat.

      In the past, before the agricultural revolution, it was perfectly alright to consume well-slaughtered animals, which were free range, and fed on organic, pesticides free food. But today, the conditions are entirely different, and in my opinion it's best to avoid such meats.

      It's only very recently that I've decided to not eat such meats, including estrogen pumped chicken eggs, which feminize men and over-feminize women, causing them to get breast cancer. Eating organic, pasture-fed cows and free range chicken is fine by me, but where are you going to find that now? Organic meats are much more expensive, and can you trust them anyway?

      My answer to your question: There are plenty of elite athletes, who were proclaimed vegetarians, with competitive performances, all without the help of meat. As for you and I, we are not training to be star athletes, I believe we can do just fine without meats.

      But I want to state that I am not a dietitian, nutritionist or health-care practitioner, I am simply a student, and writer like you. I want to thank you for following me. I'll try to answer your other questions when I get time, as I have a busy schedule. Have you read my profile? I'm battling with weight issues myself! ;-)

    • profile image

      vasan 2 years ago

      very bad

    • JoeYoung22 profile image

      Joe Young 2 years ago from Blyth, Northumberland, England

      An interesting hub. I had no idea that mushrooms were iron-rich. I eat lots of them.

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Good article on iron rich foods. I had no idea either that mushrooms are rich in iron so I'm glad my family eats lots of those. It's interesting that sun-dried tomatoes are iron-rich, is that not the case for fresh tomatoes?

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      Tulasiraj Rai 19 months ago

      Very good informative article ! Thank You!

    • profile image

      Imran Khan Afridi 8 months ago

      Realy awesome work guys. You are amazing. Keep it up.

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