3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Iron Intake (Without Meat!)
Excluding some types of food from your diet can be greatly beneficial to your health, depending on your eating habits. However, it might put you at risk when you realize your body is not getting all the nutrients it needs for healthy functioning.
This issue can take multiple forms, but one of the most common is the iron deficiency for vegetarians.
Iron is an important nutrient to our bodies, as it plays a major role in transporting oxygen to the cells in different organs. Therefore, it must not be overlooked.
Here are 3 easy plant-based ways that will allow you to pump iron into your diet without meat:
1. Search for Vegetarian Sources of Iron:
To pump iron into your diet without meat and still get all the iron intake your body needs, it is important to know the types of iron sources. Iron sources primarily split into two major types: heme iron, and non-heme iron.
Heme iron is the type you can find in animal products, while non-heme iron comes from vegetarian sources.
Since you decided to exclude meat out of your diet, you will need vegetarian sources to pump iron into your diet. Here are some delicious foods rich in iron that you can start incorporating in your meals:
- Cashews: cashew nuts contain 6.7 mg of iron per 100g.
- Lentils: lentils contain 3.3 mg of iron per 100g.
- Chickpeas: chickpeas contain 6.2 mg of iron per 100g.
- Beans: beans contain 2 mg of iron per 100g.
- Tofu: tofu contains 5.4 mg of iron per 100g.
- Spinach: spinach contains 2.7 mg of iron per 100g.
- Dark chocolate: dark chocolate contains almost 3.37 mg of iron.
- Oatmeal: oatmeal contains 6 mg of iron per 100g.
- Edamame: edamame contain 2.3 mg of iron per 100g.
The list above is not all-inclusive, you can still find many other ingredients to add to your daily meals for a good pump of iron into your diet.
As you can see, each ingredient is super-delicious and can be cooked in a multitude of ways, so you will never get bored when trying to get a healthy intake of iron every day.
2. Increase your Iron Absorption:
Like we mentioned, there are diverse methods you can use to prepare your meals. However, there is a crucial detail to remember when it comes to non-heme iron: it is not easily absorbed by the body, compared to animal-based iron.
Therefore, we highly recommend you focus on foods that can enhance your iron absorption as well. These are any foods that contain vitamin C (like bell peppers and citrus), calcium (found in greens and tofu), and Oxalates (in tofu and greens).
We understand that staying aware of all these details when preparing your meals can be a little bit challenging, as you will need to make sure all the ingredients combined act in perfect harmony to enhance your iron intake. But don’t worry, we have some tips below that will come in handy!
3. Easy tricks to Pump iron into your diet:
There are a thousand and one you can use to pump iron into your diet without meat. But as perhaps a beginner in the plant-based diet, you can follow these tricks:
- Snack on nuts rich in iron, such as cashews. It will keep you feeling full for a long time while acting as a supplement to your main meals and supplying your body with the iron it still needs.
- Include a green salad in your meal if you doubt your main dish is not loaded with all the iron your body needs.
- Diversify your cooking methods. You can easily switch from raw greens to steamed, boiled, or stir-fried, and have it taste incredible each time!
- Don’t let the foods loaded with iron distract you from complementary ingredients that will enhance its absorption. Accompany your meals with a glass of citrus juice for instance, it will make a great difference!
Studies have shown that vegetarians have a high prevalence of iron deficiency, according to the U.S National Library of Medicine, hence why we can’t stress enough on the importance of pumping iron into your diet. It can change your health for the better, while you still make food choices that meet your standards.