Iron is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in many bodily functions. A diet low in iron can lead to low energy levels, shortness of breath, headaches, irritability, dizziness or anemia.
Iron can be found in two forms in food - heme and non-heme. Heme iron is only found in animal products, while non-heme iron is only found in plants.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is based on an average intake of 18 mg per day. However, individual requirements vary depending on a person's gender and life stage. For example, men and postmenopausal women generally require about 8 mg of iron per day. This amount increases to 18 mg per day for menstruating women and 27 mg per day for pregnant women.
And, since non-heme iron tends to be less easily absorbed by our bodies than heme iron, the RDA for vegetarians and vegans is 1.8 times higher than for meat eaters.
Vegetables are often higher in iron than foods such as meat and eggs.
Although vegetables contain non-heme iron, which is less easily absorbed, they are also generally rich in vitamin C, which helps improve iron absorption. The following vegetables and vegetable products contain the most iron per serving.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, kale and green beets contain between 2.5 and 6.4 mg of iron per cooked cup, or 14 to 36% of the RDI.
For example, 100 grams of spinach contains 1.1 times more iron than the same amount of red meat and 2.2 times more than 100 grams of salmon. It is also 3 times more than 100 grams of hard-boiled eggs and 3.6 times more than the same amount of chicken.
However, due to their light weight, some people may find it difficult to eat 100 grams of raw leafy green vegetables. In this case, it is best to eat them cooked.
Other iron-rich vegetables that fall into this category include broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, which contain between 1 and 1.8 mg per cooked cup, or about 6-10% of the RDI.
Lentils are an iron-filled food, providing 6.6 mg per cooked cup, or 37% of the RDA. Lentils also contain a significant amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, folic acid and manganese. One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein and provides about 50% of your recommended daily fibre intake.
At 0.5 mg per cup, raw tomatoes contain very little iron. However, when they are dried or concentrated, they provide a much higher amount. For example, half a cup (118 ml) of tomato paste provides 3.9 mg of iron, or 22% of the RDI, while 1 cup (237 ml) of tomato sauce provides 1.9 mg, or 11% of the RDI.
Sun-dried tomatoes are another rich source of iron, providing you with 1.3 to 2.5 mg per half cup, or up to 14% of the RDA.
Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption. In addition, they are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a reduced risk of sunburn.
Potatoes contain significant amounts of iron, mainly concentrated in their skins.
Specifically, a large unpeeled potato (295 grams) provides 3.2 mg of iron, which represents 18% of the RDA. Sweet potatoes contain slightly less - about 2.1 mg for the same amount, or 12% of the RDI.
Potatoes are also an excellent source of fibre. In addition, one serving can cover up to 46% of your daily requirement for vitamin C, B6 and potassium.
Iron is an essential nutrient for the human body. This mineral can be found in a range of different foods, including many plant foods. In addition to being a good source of iron, the plant foods listed in this article also contain a variety of other nutrients and plant compounds that are beneficial to health.
Incorporating them into your diet will not only help you meet your iron needs, but will also help you enjoy overall good health!
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