The best plant sources of iron

If you're a vegetarian, you don't have to worry about iron deficiency, as there are excellent plant sources. Here we will list foods that are not only good sources of iron, but are extremely healthy for a number of other reasons.

Iron is an important mineral that performs various functions in the body, but its main role is to transport oxygen throughout the body and participate in the construction of red blood cells. Iron is an essential nutrient, which means it must be obtained through food. The recommended daily intake is 18 milligrams (on average). However, the amount of iron your body will absorb depends in part on how much iron you already have in your body. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which is manifested by a series of symptoms that are not very clear, such as, for example. fatigue. The most reliable way to find out if you have enough iron is a laboratory blood test.

Here are the 7 best plant sources of iron.

Pumpkin seed. Just 28 grams of pumpkin seeds contain 4.2 mg of iron, which is 23% of the recommended daily intake. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin K, zinc and manganese. Pumpkin seeds are also one of the best sources of magnesium, which many people lack - this amount contains 42% of the recommended daily intake.

Spinach. 100 grams of cooked spinach contains about 3.6 mg of iron, which is 20% of the recommended daily intake. Although this iron is of plant origin, so it is not absorbed as well as iron of animal origin, spinach is rich in vitamin C which improves the absorption of iron. But if you eat spinach raw, due to the high content of oxalic acid, the body cannot absorb enough iron from it. Oxalic acid is broken down by cooking, so the absorption of iron from cooked spinach increases. In addition, spinach is very rich in antioxidants called carotenoids, which are beneficial for the body in many ways.

Tofu. Tofu, or soy cheese, is a good source of iron, as half a cup (126 g) contains 3.6 mg of iron, which is 19% of the recommended daily intake. Tofu is a good source of calcium, magnesium and selenium. It is also rich in quality vegetable proteins. What makes toofu special is that it contains compounds called isoflavones, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, improved insulin sensitivity (important for diabetes prevention) and relief of menopausal symptoms.

Cocoa and dark chocolate. The main ingredient of dark chocolate is cocoa, so the good properties of dark chocolate come solely from cocoa, which is its main ingredient. 28 g of dark chocolate (with min. 70% cocoa) contains 3.3 mg of iron, which is 19% of the recommended daily intake. This small portion also contains 25% of the recommended daily intake of copper, and 16% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Dark chocolate also contains prebiotic fibers, which feed good intestinal bacteria, contributing to the health of the intestinal flora. Some studies have shown that cocoa and dark chocolate have strong antioxidant activity, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Let's emphasize once again - what applies to cocoa also applies to dark chocolate, but with 70% or more cocoa.

Legumes. Legumes, especially lentils, but also beans and chickpeas, are a good source of iron. 100 grams of cooked lentils contains 3.3mg, which is 18% of the recommended daily intake. In addition to iron, legumes are also rich in folate, magnesium and potassium. Studies have shown that legumes reduce the risk of heart disease in people who already have metabolic syndrome, as well as contribute to reducing inflammation in people with diabetes. To improve iron absorption, consume legumes with foods rich in vitamin C, (eg tomatoes, fresh peppers, etc.)

Quinoa. One cup of cooked quinoa (about 185 g) contains 2.8 mg of iron. which is 15% of the recommended daily intake. Quinoa does not contain gluten, so it is suitable for those who have gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or avoid gluten for some other reason. Also, quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, which is also good for vegetarians and vegans. It is also rich in folate, magnesium, copper, manganese and other nutrients.

Broccoli. One cup of cooked broccoli (156 g) contains 1 mg of iron, which is 6% of the recommended daily intake. This means that broccoli is a relatively good source of iron. What works for him is that in the same amount, broccoli contains 168% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which certainly helps the body better absorb the ingested iron. Broccoli is also rich in plant fiber, folate, and contains vitamin K. Broccoli is especially rich in sulforaphane and glucosinolates, plant chemicals thought to help prevent malignancies.

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