It’s well-documented that vegan diets can have a myriad of health benefits, from improved weight management to reduced inflammation and higher energy levels. Nevertheless, to unlock these benefits, it’s vital to ensure that you’re consuming a balanced vegan diet. This means eating a diverse range of whole foods that contain all the essential nutrients and vitamins we need to stay happy and healthy – including vegan foods that are high in iron.
The importance of Getting Enough Iron on a Vegan Food Diet
Before we delve into the three delicious vegan foods that are rich in iron, let’s consider why it’s important to monitor your iron intake. Iron is an essential mineral that helps to carry oxygen around your body, including to your muscles, and therefore plays a vital role in keeping your energy levels high.
There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Unfortunately, heme iron, which is absorbed by our bodies more efficiently than non-heme iron and is, therefore, the easiest source of iron to obtain, is richest in animal products, such as red meat and liver. There are very few vegan-friendly sources of heme iron, but plenty of delicious ingredients that are high in non-heme iron!
While it’s true that our bodies need to work a little more to process non-heme iron, we can give them a helping hand by combining non-heme iron sources with vitamin C. Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, can be found in everything from oranges to broccoli and potatoes, meaning it’s possible to cook lots of flavorsome, nutritional meals that aid your body’s iron absorption on a vegan diet.
It’s a common misconception that vegans can’t get enough iron – but this simply isn’t true. By eating a balanced diet packed full of nutrient-dense foods, we can avoid deficiencies (such as iron deficiency anemia) and live an incredibly healthy lifestyle!
Three Tasty Vegan Foods that are High in iron
To make boosting your iron intake easier than ever, here are three iron-rich vegan ingredients that are packed full of flavour!
Tofu has always been a vegan’s best friend. It’s a fantastic source of everything from calcium to protein, can be incorporated into almost every recipe and cuisine, and is fairly inexpensive to buy across the world. It’s also a rich source of iron, with a quarter of a block containing approximately 12% of your daily recommended value!
Many people avoid cooking with tofu because of the misconception that it’s bland. However, tofu absorbs the flavors of the spices, sauces, and vegetables that you’re cooking with, and is, therefore, a brilliant addition to almost every meal.
Iron-rich Recipe Idea
To give your iron levels a helping hand using tofu, we recommend whipping up a tofu curry. Fry cubes of tofu in garlic, chilli, and ginger, before adding sliced onions, potatoes, and green peas. With a dash of coconut milk and lashings of turmeric, you’ll have a delectable plant-based curry that keeps you energised all day.
Many people already know that spinach is a great source of iron, but did you know that kale is also a nutritional powerhouse? In fact, kale contains even more iron than spinach, in addition to more calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. As vitamin C aids your body in absorbing non-heme iron from plants, you may want to choose kale over spinach from time to time!
Luckily, there are many fantastic ways to eat kale. It’s a particularly popular ingredient amongst green juice and smoothie fans, but it can also be added to pasta dishes, curries, stir-fries, and salads.
Iron-rich recipe idea
Kale brings heaps of flavor and texture to many different recipes, but it also tastes divine by itself. For a quick and easy way to introduce more iron-rich kale into your diet, simply empty a bag into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle it with sea salt and a drizzle of oil, and bake for 20 minutes. The end result will be a deliciously healthy alternative to crisps!
If you’re looking for truly versatile vegan food that’s high in iron, quinoa is a brilliant option to consider! Quinoa is a tasty whole grain that is much less refined than popular carbohydrates, such as pasta but is still perfectly satisfying. Adding quinoa to your next meal is sure to leave you feeling energized for hours, which isn’t surprising given that it’s also a great source of protein.
If you can’t eat gluten, you’ll also be pleased to know that quinoa is completely gluten-free. After all, getting enough iron can be difficult when you don’t eat animal products or gluten-containing ingredients such as fortified flour.
Iron-rich recipe idea
Quinoa is commonly used as an iron-rich alternative to rice and couscous in many recipes, but did you know that it can also be used in sweet dishes? To make a comforting quinoa pudding, simply blend cooked quinoa with warm oat milk, bananas, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
What are your Favorite Vegan Foods?
With such a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, and whole grains to consume, it’s never been easier to enjoy a nutritionally balanced vegan diet packed full of different flavors and textures. It’s also possible to boost your intake of essential minerals and vitamins, including iron, by simply adding one or two new ingredients to your meals every week.
We’re always looking for mouth-watering vegan foods that are high in iron and versatile enough to whip up into our favorite dishes.