I love researching and writing about the health benefits of delicious and iron-rich vegetables.
Which Vegetables Have Iron?
Have you been told that your iron levels are low? Have you been diagnosed with iron deficiency, also known as anemia? Or are you a vegetarian looking for good iron sources? Whichever the case, it pays to know which vegetables offer a rich supply of iron. You'll be surprised at the variety.
The human body can't produce iron on its own. We need iron-rich foods to produce sufficient red blood cells. Red meat is iron-dense, but many vegetables and legumes are high in iron as well. These vegetables are often characterized by dark green leaves and can be slightly bitter. Others, including mushrooms, spinach, and beans, are mild in taste. Flavorful herbs, including lemongrass and parsley, brighten up salads and soups while also adding a good dose of iron.
The Top 6 Iron-Packed Veggie Options
- Swiss Chard
Iron Content of Vegetables
|Vegetable||Portion Size||Iron Content|
Mushrooms, morel (raw)
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1 cup cooked
1 cup cooked, no salt
1 cup, cooked
1 cup, raw
1 cup, chopped
1 stalk, raw
1 cup, cooked
Yes, mushrooms are high in iron! Of the many types of mushroom, morels have the highest iron content. Morels are prized in gourmet cooking and by fitness gurus for their low-calorie content and meaty texture. They have a hollow stem and a deep brown, honeycomb-textured top. They are not widely available but can be found when in season (March through May) at local farmers' markets.
Widely used in Thai cooking, lemongrass is a citrus-flavored grass that is commonly used to flavor soups, curries, and special teas.
3. Swiss Chard
A leafy green vegetable commonly used in Mediterranean cooking, Swiss chard has thick, deep-green, or reddish leaves. The leaves are rich in many different phytonutrients and antioxidants and deliver an optimal amount of iron.
Beans are available in many varieties, from white navy to deep-red cranberry and black beans. Not only are they all rich in iron, but they are also high in protein, making them a good choice for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone looking for a good non-meat source of these nutrients. Take a look at the table below to find out how much iron each type of bean delivers.
Iron Content Per 1 Cup of Beans
|Type of bean||Iron Content|
Perhaps the most popular of the dark green vegetables, spinach is highly nutritious and brimming with antioxidants. It is a powerful source of iron and can be eaten daily, cooked or raw. Cooked spinach does contain more iron content than fresh spinach, however. As with many greens, some nutrients are absorbed better when cooked.
Fresh and light, parsley is recognized as a potent and sweet-tasting leafy herb. You know it as the garnish on the food you order, but just two tablespoons contain a half a milligram of iron.
Dice it up fine and add to salads, pasta sauces, and soups. A little parsley adds freshness to your foods and is a potent source of iron.
Why Is Iron Important?
Iron is an essential mineral for forming hemoglobin, the red pigment in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body. Red blood cells transport essential nutrients and oxygen to the various organs and make up 42–47% of a healthy adult's blood. Iron is also involved in the conversion of blood glucose into energy that is used by body cells. Iron is required for the efficient functioning of the immune system.
Children require iron for proper physical and mental growth and development.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
- Constant fatigue and lethargy
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath, headaches, and dizziness
- Chest pains
- Brittle nails
- Inflamed and sore tongue
- Cold extremities (hands and feet)
- Poor appetite
- Cravings for ice or dirt
Anemia isn't a condition that should be self-diagnosed; if you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency, contact your doctor.
6 More Iron-Rich Vegetables
These sources are not as dense as the ones explored above; however, they are still fairly potent.
- Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable contains 0.56 mg of iron per half-cup. Broccoli is also loaded with immune-boosting vitamins C and K, which aid in proper blood clotting, and folate, which is essential for cell repair.
- Collard greens: 1 cup of collard greens contains approximately 2.15 mg of iron.
- Turnip greens: This bitter vegetable, known for its high levels of calcium, is an excellent source of iron. 1 cup turnip greens contains 1.15 to 2 mg of iron.
- Kale: There is 1.17 mg of iron per cup 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 phytonutrients that help steer away cancer-causing compounds.
- Brussels sprouts: One cup of raw brussels sprouts contains 1.23 mg of iron. They are rich in immune-boosting vitamins C and K for proper healing of wounds and Vitamin A for night vision.
- Green peas: 100 grams of green peas contain 1.4 mg of iron. Green peas are rich in phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Fruits That Are High in Iron
- Top 10 Fruits High in Iron to Increase Haemoglobin Levels
Increase your blood's haemoglobin level and resolve iron deficiency by adding these 10 iron-rich fruits to your regular diet. Increasing iron does not have to be chore! It can be delicious.
“Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Oct. 2019.
Leonard, Jane. “The Best Iron-Rich Vegetarian Foods.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Dec. 2018.
UCSF Health. “Hemoglobin and Functions of Iron.” Ucsfhealth.org, UCSF Health, 19 Aug. 2020.
“USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 Nutrients: Iron, Fe (Mg).” USDA National Nutrient Database, 22 Oct. 2015.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 healthmunsta
Ayeshajaz198 @gmail.com on December 07, 2017:
Thnk u it was rly hlpful
Joyce McGonigal on December 03, 2017:
Doctor says my iron is 409 .She says that high. What should I not eat?
R K Dash on October 24, 2017:
It is realy a helpful tips for me and others.
Raman deep kaur on October 12, 2017:
It's really helpful for me.thx for information.
Lillian on June 22, 2017:
I am allergic to meat, and have been struggling with menu changes. so I am happy to learn that I can get iron requirements in veggies
Imran Khan Afridi on September 16, 2016:
Realy awesome work guys. You are amazing. Keep it up.
Tulasiraj Rai on October 30, 2015:
Very good informative article ! Thank You!
Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on August 22, 2014:
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?
Joe Young from Blyth, Northumberland, England on August 10, 2014:
An interesting hub. I had no idea that mushrooms were iron-rich. I eat lots of them.
vasan on June 12, 2014:
healthmunsta (author) on February 26, 2014:
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! ;-)
S K G Rao.C Text A T I ( Manchester ) on February 26, 2014:
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.
Adriana on January 31, 2014:
Buna treaba Iron Rich Vegetables: Sources of Iron for Vegetarians! Super site: ora exacta.
healthmunsta (author) on December 03, 2013:
Thanks, everyone! More and more people are running out to get iron supplements, yet they can get iron naturally by eating iron rich foods.
Sukhdev Shukla from Dehra Dun, India on December 01, 2013:
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.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 01, 2013:
Thanks for this informative and attractive hub making us aware of the importance of iron in our diet.
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on December 01, 2013:
Great information about iron rich vegetables. Voted up.
healthmunsta (author) on November 26, 2013:
Hi jpcmc! Thank you for leaving your comment, I appreciate it!
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on November 26, 2013:
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 (author) on November 26, 2013:
@ 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!
Leah Kennedy-Jangraw from Massachusetts on November 26, 2013:
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!
Edmund on November 26, 2013:
Wow, spectacular article, I must say! I have learnt a lot indeed.