Iron is found in mainly two forms called heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is derived from the animal based food like meat, poultry, fish and other meat types, while non heme iron is obtained from plant based foods including fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Research shows that non heme iron in comparison to heme iron is not easily absorbed by the body and the amount of iron absorbed from various foods we eat varies from nearly 1 to 10% from plant foods and 10 to 20% from animal foods. Moreover, iron absorption is also influenced by other constituents in the meals like phytates, oxalates and phosphates that inhibit absorption of iron by the body. Hence all these factors pinpoint that vegetarians or vegans in comparison to non vegetarians are at a risk of suffering from iron deficiency (anemia) and its subsequent ill effects. However, the best way to combat this health concern is to include food that is high in iron in your diet. Hence, given below are some of the best iron rich foods for vegetarians or vegans that are not only rich in iron but are also loaded with other essential nutrients and vitamins.
Iron Rich Foods for Vegans
Here are iron rich vegan foods for vegetarians who usually have a tough time deciding which food is rich in iron and can enhance iron absorption in their body.
* Almond * Apricots * Asparagus * Artichokes * Alfalfa * Blackstrap molasses * Broccoli * Brussels sprouts * Cashews * Chick peas * Collard greens * Dates * Figs * Hazelnuts * Lentils * Kale cabbage * Millet * Mustard greens * Oats * Parsley * Potatoes and sweet potatoes * Prunes * Quinoa * Raisins * Red kidney beans * Spinach * Soybeans * Soy yogurt * Sprouts * Sunflower seeds * Tofu * Watercress * Watermelon
Apart from these iron rich foods for vegan, one can promote non heme iron absorption in the body simply by incorporating vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits, fruit juices, tomatoes, green peppers, and fresh leafy green vegetables in his/her vegetarian diet. Also, there are certain food items that can inhibit absorption of non heme iron like dairy products, tea, coffee, soft drinks, etc. Hence these food items should be avoided as far as possible in order to enhance iron absorption. I hope after reading this article on iron rich foods for vegans, you will not only know what are iron rich foods but also foods that can promote and inhibit iron absorption in the body.