Although red meat is often touted as the best source of iron, there are actually a number of plant foods that contain more iron than red meat. Here are 7 iron-rich foods that guarantee you a good RDA and help fight anemia:
Soy and tofu:
Soy is a source of protein, fiber and a series of vitamins and minerals, including iron. Tofu is made from soybean curd and contains even higher levels of iron than the soybeans themselves.
An 85 g serving of tofu contains about 6.8 milligrams of iron. Meanwhile, the same serving of soy contains 4.4 mg. While a one-cup serving of soy milk provides about 1 milligram of iron. Therefore, these foods can provide you with a substantial amount of iron.
The body needs iron to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Iron is also important for cell growth and metabolism. When there isn’t enough iron in the diet, people can develop anemia, which can lead to fatigue and other symptoms.
Lentils are a type of legume often used in salads and main dishes. They are well known for their richness in iron. A one-cup serving of cooked lentils contains 6.6 mg of iron, or more than 35% of the recommended daily intake for adults (RDA).
When it comes to iron absorption, lentils are similar to other plant sources of the mineral. Nonheme iron, found in plants, is not as easily absorbed by the body as heme iron, found in animal products. To increase iron absorption from lentils, pair them with a food that contains vitamin C or add them to a dish that contains tomatoes or other acidic ingredients. Lentils are also a great source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins.
Did you know that a serving of spinach contains almost 20% of the recommended daily intake of iron? This may come as a surprise, since spinach is often associated with Popeye and his superhuman strength, but it’s true! A one-cup serving of cooked spinach provides 6 mg of iron. Spinach is not only a good source of iron, but it also contains vitamins A, C and K, as well as folic acid and magnesium.
Sweet potatoes :
Sweet potatoes are a healthy and delicious addition to any diet. They are not only a source of carbohydrates, but also a good source of iron. An 3-ounce serving of sweet potatoes contains about 1 mg of iron, or about 6% of the daily value for iron. It may not sound like much, but it’s actually more than the amount of iron in an equivalent serving of beef! Sweet potatoes are a natural source that contains other nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber and manganese.
Quinoa is a popular plant protein that is also a good source of iron. One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 2 mg of iron, or about 10-15% of the daily value for iron. Quinoa is also rich in other nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, and potassium. To optimize the absorption of the iron contained in quinoa, it is preferable to consume it with foods that contain vitamin C, such as peppers, citrus fruits and tomatoes. Adding a small amount of fat, such as olive oil or avocado, can also help increase iron absorption. So if you’re looking for an iron-rich food that’s easy to incorporate into your diet, quinoa is a great option.
You may be surprised to learn that broccoli contains a good amount of iron. In fact, just one cup of cooked broccoli provides 3.3 mg of iron, or about 18% of the recommended daily intake for adults. That’s pretty impressive for a humble little vegetable! However, broccoli is a good source of other nutrients like vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.
Beans are a healthy and affordable source of protein, fiber, and nutrients like iron. One cup of cooked beans contains about 3 mg of iron, or about 17% of the RDA for adults. They are a good option for people who do not eat meat or animal products, as they are one of the few plant foods that contain significant amounts of iron.
When shopping for beans, look for varieties packed in BPA-free cans or vacuum bags. For the best nutrition, choose dry beans over canned ones. Also, they are usually less expensive and have a longer shelf life.
Before cooking, it is best to soak them in water overnight. This will reduce the cooking time. Add aromatic vegetables like onions, garlic, and carrots to the pot for flavor. Do not forget the seasoning according to your taste. Serve the beans over rice, in soups and stews, or use them as a filling for tacos or burritos. For these little legumes to have a positive impact, they should be paired with foods containing vitamin C at meals or added to a salad with orange slices at lunchtime.
Red meat is not the only food that contains high levels of iron. Many plant foods provide even more iron than red meat! The next time you’re looking for an iron-rich food, choose one of these seven foods!
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