Vegetarian Sources of Iron

Healthy Way of Eating

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Here at The Vegetarian Center we get asked a lot what are the best vegetarian sources of iron? You'll probably be pleased to know that if you are having a good variety of foods and a healthy way of eating you won't really have to worry too much about your daily intake because the iron will be there.

For a vegetarian the list of foods that you are generally consuming should look like this:vegetarian sources of iron

  • Dried fruits
  • Wholegrains (including wholemeal bread)
  • Nuts
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Seeds and pulses (e.g. chickpeas, lentils)

These foods provide you with a good part of the daily iron requirement. Add to that:

  • Parsley
  • Watercress
  • Edible seaweeds
  • Black molasses

and you are doing really well - even if they're not on the daily menu.

What you do need to know is that iron from plants isn't absorbed quite as well as it is from meat, but the simple remedy is to make sure you're having Vitamin C as well as Malic acid and Citric acid.  So, add to your list:

  • Green leafy vegetables (yes, it's in the top list)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes

Citrus fruit is also a source of Citric acid, and Malic acid is found in apples, plums and pumpkins (amongst other foods).

Now, something to be aware of is that Phytates can reduce iron absorption, as can tannins (from tea), and phytates are found in nuts, grains and seeds which seems a bit of a contridiction.  However, if your vegetarian/vegan diet is balanced these two negative factors and not normally a problem.

So, if you can have both the iron and vitamin C in the same meal you'll find the absorption is enhanced.  One last tip using iron cookware  can also increase the iron intake.

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