best vegan iron sources

Iron is one of the 9 essential nutrients needed to master a plant-based diet and plays a significant role in the transfer of oxygen around the body as well as protein and enzyme metabolism. Below, we will outline the best vegan sources of iron and why these are so important.

A diet deficient in iron can lead to a slow down in primary bodily functions such as inflammation, mental fatigue, poor energy use, and a weakened immune system, potentially leading to iron deficiency anemia.

Although non-heme iron (found in plants) may have a slightly lower absorption rate than heme iron (found in meat), it doesn’t come with the potential negative side effects that heme iron can cause, such as coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis.

One of the many myths surrounding the vegan diet is that you can’t get adequate iron intake without eating red meat, but there is a significantly vast range of plant-based foods that will easily help you meet your RDA while simultaneously giving you all the wonderful additional benefits that come from plant foods.

Plant-based foods rich in iron

Fruit high in iron

Dried Goji berries

Nutrition info per 1oz:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.1g Carbohydrates 21.8g Protein 4g
Vitamins: Vitamin A 190.1mcg – 21.1% DV, Vitamin C 13.6mg – 15% DV
Minerals: Iron 1.9 – 11% DV, Calcium 53.2mg – 4% DV

  • Goji berries are seen by many as one of the superfood fruits thanks to their long list of historical uses and high mineral, vitamin, and antioxidant content.
  • Goji berries are one of the best vegan sources of iron rich foods providing 11% RDA of non-heme iron per ounce while the high vitamin C content supports optimal iron absorption.
  • Studies have shown goji berry juice to be good for digestion and fatigue making them a wonderful addition to your morning green smoothie helping you to feel energized at the start of the day.
  • Research has also shown that goji berries may be good for eye health and preventing macular degeneration.
  • Why not try some goji berries in one of our favorite green smoothies to begin gaining all the benefits that this fruit has to offer.

Dried apricots

Nutrition info per 1oz:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.2g Carbohydrates 23.2g, Protein 1.4g
Vitamins: Vitamin A 177.2mcg – 20% DV, Vitamin C 2.7mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Iron 1.8mg- 10% DV, Magnesium 17.6mg – 4% DV, Potassium 518mg – 11% DV

  • Dried apricots are a delicious snack and one of the most fantastic food for vegans to increase their non-heme iron intake. Each ounce of dried apricots provides 10% of your daily iron requirement, making them one of the best vegan sources of iron stacked foods for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Like goji berries, dried apricots have also been shown to help promote eye health and may prevent macular degeneration thanks to the sufficient supply of vitamins A and E.
  • The vitamin C content not only helps to boost the immune system but has been shown to help improve skin health.
  • Some of the best vegan uses for dried apricots to increase your iron per day are simply using them as a snack with your favorite nuts or as a sweetener in your favorite smoothies and protein shakes.

Passionfruit

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.7g, Carbohydrates 55.2g, Protein 5.2g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 70.8mg – 79% DV, Vitamin A 151mcg – 79% DV
Minerals: Iron 3.8mg – 21% DV, Potassium 821.3mg – 17% DV, Magnesium 68.4mg – 16% DV

Health Benefits of wild passionfruit

  • Passionfruit is one of the most exquisite tropical fruits available and one of the best vegan sources of iron due to its nutritional content.
  • Each cup serving provides 21% of your recommended daily amount of iron while being supported with a significant helping of beneficial antioxidants.
  • Passionfruit is also extremely high in vitamin C, making it great for immune system health and preventing inflammation while being one of the best nutrients to aid in non-heme iron absorption.
  • For a unique tropical fruit smoothie packed with iron, magnesium, and vitamin C, passionfruit should be one of your go-to food choices. 
  • Try out our tasty pineapple and passion fruit smoothie to boost your iron intake today.

Beans and lentils high in iron

Soybeans – boiled

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 15.4g, Carbohydrates 14.4g, Protein 31.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 2.9mg – 3% DV, Vitamin K 33mcg – 28% DV
Minerals: Iron 8.8mg – 49% DV, Magnesium 147.9mg – 35% DV, Zinc 2mg – 18% DV

Health benefits and uses for soybeans

  • Soybeans are significantly high in a wide range of essential minerals, especially magnesium, iron, and zinc, which are all vital to a plant-based diet.
  • They are one of the most fantastic sources of iron fulfilling 49% of your recommended iron per day, making this one of the best vegan sources of iron, specifically heme-iron on the planet.
  • Soybeans are also very high in vitamin K, which helps to regulate blood calcium levels and can help to prevent osteoporosis
  • Soybeans are low on the glycemic index, which means they help to maintain balanced blood sugar levels while also being high in fiber, helping to foster a healthy digestive system.
  • The high protein content makes them one of the best plant-based protein sources on the planet with a 1 cup serving able to provide over 60% of your recommended daily needs. 
  • Try out some of our favorite soybean and tofu recipes to boost your vegan iron and protein intake in a healthy yet delicious way.

Catjang beans – cooked.

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.2g, Carbohydrates 34.7g, Protein 13.9g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 242.8mcg – 61% DV, Vitamin C 0.7mg – 1% DV
Minerals: Iron 5.2mg – 29% DV, Magnesium 164.2mg – 39% DV, Zinc 3.2mg – 29% DV

Health Benefits of catjang beans

  • Catjang beans are a wonderfully nutritious bean and one of the best plant foods high in iron. Each 1 cup serving provides 29% of your daily iron needs and is a great way to help prevent iron deficiency.
  • Catjang beans are also an excellent source of protein, providing 28% of your daily needs in just one cup
  • Catjang beans are also high in fiber, fulfilling 25% of your daily needs with every cup. Fiber has been shown to support a healthy digestive system and help to manage weight, so catjang beans can be a good food source to keep the unwanted weight off.
  • Catjang beans go magnificently well with seasoned brown rice or can be used as a scrumptious base for a plant-based bean stew.
  • Try incorporating these wonderful beans into your vegan eating habits to boost your nutrient levels and bring balance to your diet.

Lentils – cooked

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.8g, Carbohydrates 39.9g, Protein 17.9g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 3mg – 3% DV, Vitamin K 3.4mcg – 3% DV
Minerals: Iron 6.6mg – 37% DV, Zinc 2.5mg – 23% DV, Potassium 730.6mg 16% DV

Health benefits and uses for lentils

  • Lentils, the tasty seeds from the legume family, are one of the best vegan sources of iron found on the vegan diet. For every 1 cup of lentils, you get 37% of your daily iron needs as well as a healthy helping of zinc, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Lentils are packed with polyphenols, which makes them a great food source for improving digestion and preventing neurodegenerative diseases.
  • The high fiber content also helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and to manage optimal weight with each 1 cup of lentils able to provide 63% of your daily fiber needs.
  • Some of the best lentil recipes for vegetarians and vegans include lentil soup, roti, and lentil curries.

Vegetables high in iron

Morel mushrooms

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.4g, Carbohydrates 3.4g, Protein 2.1g
Vitamins: Vitamin D 3.4mcg – 17% DV, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.1mg 10%
Minerals: Iron 8mg – 45% DV, Potassium 271.3mg – 6% DV, Calcium 28.4mg – 2% DV

Health benefits and uses of morel mushrooms

  • Morel mushrooms are more than just delicious food to add to your favorite stir fry dishes. They are loaded with essential nutrients and jam-packed with a healthy dose of plant-based iron. Each cup of morel mushrooms provides up to 45% of your recommended daily iron intake, making it a great food source to add to your diet to aid in preventing iron-deficiency anemia. This makes mushrooms one of the best vegan sources of iron.
  • Mushrooms are one of the best sources of vitamin D on a vegan, and a vegetarian diet and morel mushrooms are no exception. They provide up to 17% of your daily needs with each cup helping to boost your immune system and support longterm bone health.
  • Morel mushrooms are also high in manganese which is necessary for strong bones and inflammation reduction, as well as being high in copper which is good for the healthy formation of red blood cells.
  • Some great ways to incorporate morel mushrooms into your diet are through vegan mushroom risotto or tasty sauteed garlic mushroom dish.

Spinach

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.5g, Carbohydrates 6.8g, Protein 5.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin A 943.2mcg – 105% DV, Vitamin C 17.6mg – 20% DV, Vitamin E 3.7mg – 25% DV
Minerals: Iron 6.4mg – 36% DV, Calcium 244.8mg -19% DV, Magnesium 156.6mg – 37% DV

Health benefits and uses of spinach

  • Spinach is one of those greens that is excellent in nearly all recipes and is one of the best leafy green sources of iron. Spinach is a staple in green juices and green smoothies, as well as vegan salads and vegetable stir-fries, making spinach one of the best vegan sources of iron.
  • A one-cup serving of cooked spinach provides 36% of your daily iron needs and is a great way to help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
  • The delicate leafy texture requires masticated juicing to extracting the most nutrients from the leaves.
  • Spinach is relatively low carb but high in fiber, making it a brilliant leafy green for digestion as well as weight loss and weight maintenance.
  • Spinach is also high in antioxidants, especially quercetin, which has been shown to help fight inflammation.
  • Try out this delicious energy boosting green smoothie recipe to get some healthy iron into your diet.

Swiss chard – cooked.

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.1g, Carbohydrates 7.2g, Protein 3.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin A 535.5mcg – 60% DV, Vitamin C 31.5mg – 35% DV, Vitamin E 3.3mg – 22% DV
Minerals: Iron 4mg – 22% DV, Potassium 960.8mg – 20% DV, Magnesium 150.5mg – 36% DV

Health benefits and uses of swiss chard

  • This nutritious leafy green may not be the most widely used, but its magnificent nutritional profile means it should be up there with the other wonderful leafy greens like spinach and kale. 1 cup of swiss chard provides 22% of your daily iron needs making this one of the best vegan sources of iron and one of the top foods to incorporate into your plant-based diet.
  • Not only is it high in iron and magnesium, but it provides a tremendously large amount of vitamins A, C and E. The vitamin C content makes it great for the immune system, while the vitamin A and E content help to keep your hair skin and nails healthy and vibrant.
  • Swiss chard is a fantastic leafy green for making energy boost green smoothies or as a delicious base for a hearty salad.

Nuts and seeds high in iron

Sesame seeds

Nutrition per 1 oz (28g):

Macronutrients: Fat 13.6g, Carbohydrates 7.3g, Protein 4.8g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 27.8mcg – 7% DV, Vitamin B1 0.2mg – 19% DV
Minerals: Iron 4.2mg – 23% DV, Zinc 2mg – 18% DV, Magnesium 101.1mg – 24% DV

Health benefits and uses of sesame seeds

  • Sesame seeds, grown from the sesamum Indicum plant, are one of the most nutritious seeds to add to your diet known for their healthy oils and versatility in cooking dishes. Sesame seeds can be used in all sorts of ways, from vegan bread, crackers, and cookies through to Asian stir fry dishes and tofu seasoning. The possibilities are endless.
  • Sesame seeds are one of the best nut sources of iron, providing 23% of your daily iron needs with just a small one-ounce serving, making the list of best vegan sources of iron. They can be an excellent addition to a tasty vegan salad or can be used to boost the nutritional profile of your favorite green smoothies.
  • Sesame seeds also contain 22% of your recommended calcium amount with a simple one-ounce serving. A healthy supply of calcium is essential to the development and maintenance of strong, healthy bones, so sesame seeds are a magnificent food source to add to a plant-based diet to easily boost iron and calcium intake.

Pumpkin seeds

Nutrition per 1 oz (28g):

Macronutrients: Fat 13.9g, Carbohydrates 3g, Protein 8.6g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 16.5mcg – 4% DV, Vitamin E 0.6mg – 4% DV
Minerals: Iron 2.5mg – 14% DV, Potassium 229.8mg – 5% DV, Zinc 2.2mg – 20% DV

Health benefits and uses of pumpkin seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds, with their unique green color and unordinary seed shape, are a fantastic source of iron to add to your diet and are jam-packed with healthy nutrients. 
  • 1 oz of pumpkin seeds can provide up to 14%% of your daily amount of iron as well as boosting your magnesium, zinc, and potassium intake.
  • Each ounce of pumpkin seeds provides 17% of your protein daily protein needs making them a great vegan protein source for maintaining a healthy body and building lean mass.
  • Studies have shown pumpkin seeds to be beneficial for fighting inflammation thanks to the antioxidants contained within as well as having a positive effect on prostate health.
  • In the kitchen, there are many great uses for this healthy green seed, from being added to vegan cakes and breads or simply just roasting them with some tasty seasonings.
  • If you are looking to boost your intake of iron and other essential nutrients, try out our roasted pumpkin seeds recipe.

Hemp seeds

Nutrition per 1 oz (28g):

Macronutrients: Fat 13.8g, Carbohydrates 2.5g, Protein 9g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate)31.2mcg – 8% DV, Vitamin E 0..2mg – 2% DV
Minerals: Iron 2.3mg – 13% DV, Magnesium 198.8mg – 47% DV, Zinc 2.8mg – 26% DV

Health benefits and uses of hemp seeds

  • Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds around providing 13% of your daily iron needs with just 1 oz of seeds, making them one of the best vegan sources of iron.
  • Hemp seeds are also very high in omega-3 fatty acids providing 2466mg of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and around 74% of your EPA and DHA needs with just 1 ounce making this one of the best vegan omega-3 sources available. 
  • 1 oz of hemp seeds provides 18% of your daily protein, making it one of the best seeds for high protein and plant-based iron content
  • Studies have shown that hemp seeds have many benefits, from decreasing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood pressure through to reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and contributing to healthier skin.
  • Hemp seeds can be used in a protein shake to boost muscle recovery or in a fresh green smoothie to increase nutrient properties and add nutritional balance to your diet.

Grains high in iron

Oats

Oats

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 10.8g, Carbohydrates 103.4g, Protein 26.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 87.4mcg – 22%, Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.2mg – 14% DV
Minerals: Iron 7.4mg – 41% DV, Magnesium 276.1mg – 66% DV, Zinc 6.2mg – 56% DV

Health benefits and uses of oats

  • Oats are one of the most popular grains in the world and one of the most magnificent sources of iron.
  • Oats are in the top 3 grains for iron content, with each 1 cup serving able to provide over 41% of your daily iron needs, hence why oats are always classed as one of the best vegan sources of iron.
  • They are also high in complex carbs, magnesium, and healthy plant-based protein and fiber. Oats provide enough fiber to meet 60% of your daily, helping to support your long-term digestive health.
  • The uses for oats, especially on a vegan diet, are endless. They are the base of the popular oat bowls you see everywhere, they can be used in bread and biscuits, like flour for baking, and can even be added to vegan protein shakes to boost the vitamins and minerals within.

Teff

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.6g, Carbohydrates 50g, Protein 9.8g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 45.4mcg – 11%, Vitamin B1(thiamin) 0.5mg – 38% DV
Minerals: Iron 5.2mg- 29% DV, Magnesium 126mg – 30% DV, Zinc 2.8mg – 25% DV

Health benefits and uses of teff

  • Teff is another gluten-free ancient grain that is a good source of iron for vegans. Teff, similar to quinoa and wild rice is not actually a grain but a seed.
  • Each cup of these nutritious seeds provides 29% of your daily iron needs, making it an excellent way to increase the amount of non-heme iron you consume per day.
  • Teff is also high in fiber, providing 28% of your daily needs with every cup served, which helps to support optimal digestive health.
  • The comprehensive nutrient profile that teff contains and the gluten-free aspect of this tasty seed makes teff one of the best plant foods for vegans to increase their iron absorption.
  • An excellent way to incorporate teff into a vegan diet is in a delicious yet easy to make teff porridge or in vegan pancakes and bread.

Amaranth

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 3.9g, Carbohydrates 46g, Protein 9.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 54.1mcg – 14%, Vitamin E 0.5mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Iron 5.2mg- 29% DV, Magnesium 159.9mg – 38% DV, Zinc 2.1mg – 19% DV

Health benefits and uses of amaranth

  • Amaranth, known as an ancient grain, has been cultivated over thousands of years and has one of the most impressive nutrient profiles because of this. 
  • Amaranth is one of the best vegan sources of iron, providing you with 29% of your recommended daily amount with just a one-cup serving.
  • It boasts a wide range of minerals and vitamins and is also high in healthy plant-based protein making it great for vegan fitness enthusiasts. 
  • Studies have shown that due to the high antioxidant properties, amaranth is an excellent aid for protection against heart disease and may help to lower bad cholesterol.
  • Amaranth has a wide range of uses in a plant-based kitchen from porridge to health bars. Try out some of our favorite grain recipes to start increasing iron intake and to get the most from this magnificent ancient food.

Iron supplements

Plant-based iron supplementation is an alternative way to boost your iron content without the need for animal products. A high-quality vegan iron supplement can be used to bring balance to your diet, especially for women who tend to need iron more than men due to menstrual cycles and pregnancy.

The recommended amount of iron for men is 8mg a day, while the recommended daily amount of iron for women ranges between 18- 27mg depending on whether they are going through a pregnancy or not.

Iron supplementation is a great way to support a balanced plant-based diet but should not be used as a replacement for healthy whole plant foods with high iron content. Check out our breakdown of the best vegan iron supplements to find a healthy product to support your daily needs.

Check out our definitive vegan iron guide to learn everything you need to know to master this important mineral on a plant-based diet.

Feeling creative?

Why not try some of our fantastic vegan recipes high in Iron to help bring nutritional balance back to your diet.

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