Vegetable sources of iron are abundant! Opt for spinach, mushroom, and broccoli for fairly good quantities of iron. Green peas, acorn squash, leeks, potatoes, asparagus, and leeks also add up. Increase your iron-count further with vitamin-C-rich foods like tomatoes that aid iron absorption.
Recommended Intake Of Iron Is 8–18 Mg
Do keep in mind, though, that if you’re purely eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, you may need as much as twice the amount of iron every day. That’s because iron is available as readily usable heme iron in animal sources while non-heme iron from vegan sources is less easily used by your body. To compensate for the poorer absorption of non-heme iron, you will need to up your intake further.
That said, the % DV that follows assumes 18 mg intake for an adult, which means if you’re an adult male, or a woman over 50, this DV already accommodates for the vegetarian diet. If you’re pregnant or a female adult under 50, you should consider higher intake of the foods basis your diet.
1. Spinach And Other Dark Leafy Greens
Some dark leafy green vegetables like spinach are abundant in iron. They taste great blended into soups, tossed in stir fries, added to pasta or even in salads. Half a cup of boiled spinach, for instance, has 3.2 mg of iron – that’s about 17% DV. Other greens like kale and collard greens also contain iron that delivers 3.3 to 6% DV. Half a cup of kale has 0.59 mg of iron and a similar amount of collard greens have 1.075 mg.
Another kind of green that may appeal to more people are peas. These sweet, juicy pops of green can brighten up any meal. They are delicious in soup but you could have fun with them in Indian curries with potatoes and tomatoes, buttery stir-fries with onion, or even add them to a creamy sauce to go with gnocchi or pasta of your choice. Half a cup of boiled green peas contain 1.23 mg of iron and that’s 6.8% DV.
Delicious spears of asparagus gently roasted in the oven with a cracking of fresh pepper and salt are a treat for the palate. Creamy asparagus soup, Asian style asparagus, and tofu salad, asparagus with grits – the options are endless. If you’d like to start your day right, make a frittata with asparagus added into the mix or serve these as a side to a soft boiled egg or fried eggs. Half a cup of boiled asparagus has 0.82 mg of iron or nearly 5% DV. Even if you have just 4 spears for a meal as a side, you will get in 0.55 mg of iron or 3% DV.
4. Morel Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a delicious, meaty feeling vegetable that is ideal if you’ve just turned vegan or vegetarian and are craving some meat. You can saute them with some butter and garlic or spices for a simple meal or even pair them with asparagus to up the iron intake further. Risottos, pies, pizzas all do well with a helping of mushroom. When it’s iron you are after, morel mushrooms are an excellent choice, beating other varieties by a long mile in iron content. A cup of morel mushrooms contains a whopping 8.04 mg of iron as opposed a cup of white mushrooms that have 0.35 mg iron. That’s nearly 45% DV. Just half a cup of the mushrooms gets you to 22% DV of iron.
5. Potatoes With Skin
Potatoes are a good source of iron but only if you don’t toss out the skin. Much of the iron they contain is in the skin itself, so scrub down those potatoes and bake them or roast them in their skin for an iron-packed recipe. A single large baked potato (299 gm) eaten the skin and all give you 3.23 mg of iron (18% DV), while a medium-sized potato (173 gm) has 1.87 mg of iron (10.4% DV). Skip the skin and you stand to get around 0.55 mg or just 3% DV of iron from a medium- sized vegetable, weighing around 156 gm.
One leek has 1.36 mg of iron, so it will get you to 7.6% DV of iron intake. Give the classic potato and leek soup recipe a go, but also try them charred off and stuffed with blue cheese and nuts. Or pair up with mushrooms in an iron-rich Asian style broth, with some greens tossed in for good measure. You could even braise them with meat or infuse flavor by marinating them before grilling.
Tomatoes, while not strictly a vegetable, are for all purposes used as vegetables rather than as a fruit. Which is why they make it to this list! While raw tomatoes do not have not too much iron, tomato paste and sundried tomatoes concentrate the nutrition so you end up getting much more out of a smaller serving. A cup of tomato puree, for instance, has 4.45 mg of iron – that’s nearly 25% DV of iron. Use the puree as a base for your pasta sauce, stews, or curries. If you enjoy sundried tomatoes, half a cup of them has 2.5 mg of iron (14% DV).