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Article: The best vegetable iron sources

vegane Eisenquellen: Bohnen und Linsen und Erbsen

The best vegetable iron sources

Iron is an essential nutrient and important for our body. But why exactly? How much iron does our body need? And which plant-based foods have a high iron content? We introduce you to seven vegan sources of iron that you can include in your diet.

Why does our body need iron?

Iron is found in every cell in our body and is one of the most important trace elements. It binds oxygen in the red blood cells and is therefore responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the entire body . There are also iron stores in the liver, spleen and bone marrow, which the body can use when there is a shortage of iron.

A distinction is made between heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is particularly present in animal foods (especially meat). It can be absorbed by our body (up to three times) better than non-heme iron . Because non-heme iron is found primarily in plants, it is important for non-meat eaters to know what the best plant sources of iron are.

Due to the different absorption rates, iron deficiency is not uncommon, especially among vegetarians and vegans. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness and pale skin . The best way to determine whether you are affected by iron deficiency is to do a blood test.

How much iron should I consume?

A person's iron needs are not always the same . Factors such as age, gender or current stage of life influence the amount of iron our body needs. For example, iron requirements are particularly high during growth, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In general, it is recommended that healthy female adults consume 15 mg of iron daily . Men need slightly less iron; 10 mg daily is recommended for them .

In the list of iron-containing foods below, I have listed both the amount of iron per 100 g as a guideline and the consumption amount that is needed to supply 15 mg of iron. The values ​​for this come from .

By the way, there are some foods that can inhibit iron absorption in the body . These include black tea, coffee, white flour products, and milk and dairy products. Foods that support iron absorption are foods containing vitamin C (especially vegetables, fruits and fruit juices).

If you want to implement more iron-rich foods into your diet, or perhaps stop taking supplements, then this list can help you. You'll see where you already get iron from and where you can add more iron-rich foods to your diet. 

Vegan sources of iron

1. Soybeans

Even though soybeans are not only popular, they are still a very healthy food. The legume is known to be a valuable source of plant protein. In addition to vitamins, soybeans also contain a lot of calcium and iron. Although soybeans originally come from Asia, soy plants have also been grown in Germany and the surrounding area for several years. Soybeans are particularly popular in the form of tofu, tempeh or in the form of plant drinks and yoghurts. When purchasing, you should pay attention to organic quality and regional origin.

100 g of soybeans contain approx. 9 mg of iron (amount for 15 mg of iron: 154 g of soybeans).

2. Lenses

Every time I eat lentils, I think that I should eat lentils more often. Like soybeans, lentils are rich in protein and nutrients such as iron and vitamin K. They not only taste delicious but are also very versatile! As a soup, as a side dish, in salads… Lentil-based pasta is now also available in most supermarkets!

100 g of lentils contain approx. 8 mg of iron (amount for 15 mg of iron: 187 g of lentils).

Lentil bowl with sprouts and vegetables

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

3. Quinoa

Quinoa can be used in just as many different ways. Unlike conventional grains, quinoa does not contain gluten and is therefore particularly suitable for allergy sufferers. In addition to iron, quinoa also contains protein and healthy fiber and is rich in essential amino acids. The pseudograin can be used as an alternative to rice and contains 8 mg of iron per 100 g. The quinoa consumption amount for 15 mg of iron is also 187 g.

4. Pumpkin seeds

Another food that most of us probably don't have on our radar. Pumpkin seeds can be mixed into various dishes so well! The seeds are particularly suitable in salads, smoothies and muesli. But pumpkin seeds are also good as a topping on warm dishes because they give the whole thing a nice crunch. Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamins and provide magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium. With 11.2 mg iron per 100 g, pumpkin seeds are among the nuts/seeds with the highest iron content (amount for 15 mg iron: 170 g pumpkin seeds).

5. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are now almost a staple food for me! Chickpeas are not only cheap and have a long shelf life, but are also rich in nutrients. In addition to iron, they contain lots of fiber, proteins, calcium and vitamin E. This means they provide lasting satiety, strengthen bones and prevent aging processes in the skin. Another reason chickpeas are always in my pantry is that they are super versatile. I love making hummus with them! They are also perfect for stews, curries or simply as a side dish.

100 g of dried chickpeas contain approx. 6.1 mg of iron (amount for 15 mg of iron: 245 g of lentils).

Dish with chickpeas and rice

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

6. Millet flakes

Millet flakes are not necessarily one of the foods that you always have at home. But here too the purchase is worth it. The flakes can be found quite inexpensively in health food stores and health food stores and are great in homemade muesli or a quick millet porridge. The flakes prevent hyperacidity and support healthy cholesterol levels. In addition, they are naturally rich in iron (who would have thought? ;) ) and gluten-free!

100 g of millet flakes contain a whopping 9 mg of iron. The consumption amount for 15 mg of iron is therefore 160 g of millet flakes.

7. White beans

White beans are certainly more versatile than just being used in stews. Like other beans, white beans are high in protein. In addition to iron, they are also rich in magnesium (and therefore good for the muscles) and contain a lot of fiber, which supports digestion. White beans can be used in stews, soups and salads or as a side dish. You can also use the beans to make delicious dips and spreads!

By the way, it's not just this type of bean that contains iron. It is listed specifically here because it contains a particularly high amount of iron - but beans themselves are generally a good source of iron!

100 g of dried white beans contain approx. 7 mg of iron (amount for 15 mg of iron: 215 g).

Another word about spinach : It is often considered THE ultimate source of iron. But that's basically just a myth. Although spinach contains quite a bit of iron, it also contains other substances that inhibit iron absorption in the body. Other plant-based foods such as lentils or beans therefore provide better sources of iron.

Did you enjoy this article? Do you have any additions, questions or criticism? Then please leave us a comment directly below this post! :)

If you would like to find out more about the topics of healthy eating, mindfulness or sustainability, take a look here .

Vegetable sources of iron: types of beans on spoons

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash


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