Tags: Health Topics | iron | diet | nutrition | anemia

6 Plant-Based Foods Rich in Iron

swiss chard
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By    |   Tuesday, 03 March 2020 11:10 AM

Iron is mainly found in animal foods, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may not be getting enough of this important mineral. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Because iron is present in all cells and has several vital functions including carrying oxygen to the tissues from the lungs and storying oxygen in the muscles, too little iron can interfere with these processes and lead to anemia.

Sue Van Rues, a functional nutritionist and food psychology specialist from Boulder, Colorado, tells Newsmax that iron found in plants is not as readily absorbed as iron found in animal products and should be consumed along with vitamin C, which is found in citrus products, broccoli, and tomato.

"Try these plant-based foods that are rich in iron to ensure you reach your optimum iron levels and avoid the many health issues associated with iron-deficiency anemia," she says.

  1. Lentils. This pulse crop is high in both protein and iron and is very easy to digest, says Van Rues. Use lentils in soups, as a salad, or puree them as a dip for vegetables.
  2. Cashews. These tasty and creamy nuts make an ideal snack on their own or blended into cashew butter to spread on your favorite crackers. They have a high mineral content as well as a healthy dose of vitamins B and C.
  3. Quinoa. An ancient grain native to the Andean mountains, quinoa is enjoying huge culinary popularity as the "queen of all grains," says Van Rues. It's chock-full of iron and can be used as a substitute for rice or couscous at any meal.
  4. Swiss chard. This green veggie packs a nutritional punch not only because it contains iron, but also for its impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Van Rues suggests sautéing Swiss chard with lemon juice and chopped garlic for a few minutes until just tender. Remove the bitter stems before cooking.
  5. Sunflower seeds. People with nut allergies can safely enjoy these mineral-rich snacks.  You can roast them for a minute or so on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet and sprinkle them on top of salads. Sunflower seeds, either raw or roasted, make an excellent addition to homemade trail mix.
  6. Molasses. This viscous liquid is the result of processing sugar beets or sugar cane into sugar and is an excellent and versatile source of plant-based iron. Van Rues recommends buying organic and unsulfured blackstrap molasses and using it as a sweetener in recipes that call for a sweetener to impart a richer flavor. You can also mix it with a little butter or olive oil to coat your favorite vegetable such as carrots, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin. "Try a teaspoon in your morning oatmeal or yogurt for some subtle but tasty sweetness," says Van Rues.

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Iron is mainly found in animal foods, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may not be getting enough of this important mineral.
iron, diet, nutrition, anemia
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2020-10-03
Tuesday, 03 March 2020 11:10 AM
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