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Health Benefits of Eating Iron Rich Vegetables Daily

Diet Tips

Lacking in Iron? Have you been diagnosed with iron deficiency, otherwise known as anemia? Or are you a vegetarian simply looking for more iron rich vegetable sources to add to your daily diet? Whatever the case, it pays to know the benefits of including iron rich sources in your dietary intake in order to better appreciate the functions of this important mineral.

Without iron, most organisms in the world, including humans, would not be alive today. Our bodies cannot produce iron on its own and we need to supply our bodies with iron rich sources regularly.

Red meat and organ meats are commonly recognized as iron-dense sources, but many vegetables and legumes are iron rich as well. Iron rich vegetables are often characterized by dark green colored leaves, and are often slightly bitter. Many beans and legumes are rich in iron as well.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

  1. Constant fatigue and lethargy
  2. Slow physical and mental development in children
  3. Poor performance in school for children
  4. Inflamed tongue (Glossitis)
  5. Problems regulating proper body temperature
  6. Weak immune system
  • Iron is an essential mineral in our body for forming hemoglobin, the red pigment in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body.
  • Without red blood cells, how would essential nutrients and energy be supplied to the various organs in our body?
  • Iron rich vegetables also help prevent anemia and also protect people susceptible to anemia from iron deficiency especially pregnant mothers.
  • Iron is involved in the conversion of blood glucose into energy to be used by body cells
  • Children require iron for proper physical and mental growth and development
  • Iron is required for the efficient functioning of the immune system.
Iron is highly important in the formation of red blood cells, which make up 42% - 47% of a healthy adult's blood.
Iron is highly important in the formation of red blood cells, which make up 42% – 47% of a healthy adult’s blood.

List of top iron rich vegetables

Meat is not the only best source of iron rich foods – even vegetarian sources are highy potent. Let’s take a look at the top iron rich sources in vegetables and legumes.

Note: RDA% refers to the percentage Recommended Daily Allowance of the nutrient, i.e. iron, for a healthy adult.

1. Mushrooms Amongst mushrooms, the type with the highest source of iron are Morel mushrooms . Morel mushrooms are prized in gourmet cooking and among fitness gurus for their low calorie value and meaty texture. They have a hollow stem and a deep brown honeycomb textured top. They are not widely available but can be found during season in local farmers markets.

Measurement
RDA% of Iron
One Serving
68%
Just take a look at the RDA% in one serving of morel mushrooms. Have a cup of these, and you will have satisfied more than your iron requirement for the day.

2. Lemon grass Widely used in Thai cooking, lemon grass is a citrus flavoured grass that is commonly used to flavour soups, curries and special teas.

Measurement
RDA%
One serving
35%

3. Swiss chard A leafy green vegetable commonly used in Mediterranean cooking, it has deep green or reddish thick leaves. It is a super-green with many different phytonutrients and antioxidants, as well as a healthy serving of iron.

Measurement
RDA%
1 serving, cooked
22%

4. Chickpeas Also known as Garbanzo beans, chick peas are a delicious legume, rich in iron as well as other potent nutrients.

Measurement
Iron Content
100 g
6.2 mg

5. Beans Beans are leguminous seeds that come in pods and they are present in many varieties, from white skinned, deep red skinned, green skinned to black skinned. Not only are they rich in iron, but they are also rich in protein, making them a good foods source for vegetarians and vegans alike. Take a look at this table showing different beans, plus their iron content.

Type of bean
Iron Content/1 cup serving
Kidney bean
3.93mg
Lima bean
4.4mg
Black bean
3.6 mg
Navy bean
4.3 mg
Soybean
8.8 mg (per 172 gms)
White bean
5.8mg (per 3/4 cup)

6. Spinach Perhaps the most popular of dark green vegetables, spinach is a high nutritional vegetable, brimming with many antioxidants. It is a powerful iron source and can be eaten almost daily. Cooked spinach contains a higher iron content than fresh spinach. With many greens, you may notice that some nutrients are absorbed better when cooked.

Measurement
Iron Content
180g, cooked
6.43 mg

7. Lentils Also known as pulses, these are part of the legume family and are dense in a variety of nutrients, not just iron, including protein, manganese and folic acid.

Measurement
Iron content
1 cup, boiled
6.6 mg

8. Parsley Fresh and light, parsley is recognized as a potent and sweet tasting leafy vegetable to juice. It is a relative of celery and is popularly used as table garnish. The nutrients in parsley have been studied to inhibit tumor growth in the lungs, among other benefits.

One of the most popular herbs in the world, parsley contains a significant amount of iron essential for hemoglobin formation. 2 tablespoons of parsley contain 0.47 mg of iron. This is about 2.6 % of the daily recommended value of iron.

Measurement
Iron Content (RDA)
2 tablespoons
2.6%

Pictures of Some Iron Rich Vegetables & Meal Suggestions

Morel Mushrooms are a highly dense source of dietary iron for the body. Eat them when in season as part of your stir fry or toss them in soup for a creamy dinner meal. Note: Picture is not of morel mushrooms, but of normal mushroom variety.
Morel Mushrooms are a highly dense source of dietary iron for the body. Eat them when in season as part of your stir fry or toss them in soup for a creamy dinner meal. Note: Picture is not of morel mushrooms, but of normal mushroom variety.
Chick peas or Garbanzo beans are not only delicious, but are great sources of iron too! Sprout them, stew them, make a curry out of them or eat them with rice, and enjoy the benefits of this iron rich legume.
Chick peas or Garbanzo beans are not only delicious, but are great sources of iron too! Sprout them, stew them, make a curry out of them or eat them with rice, and enjoy the benefits of this iron rich legume.
Beans, so many varieties of them! Most beans are rich in iron, as well as many other important nutrients. Don't avoid beans for the fear of gas! Toss in some garlic (a potent gas buster and digestive soother) along with your beans next time!
Beans, so many varieties of them! Most beans are rich in iron, as well as many other important nutrients. Don’t avoid beans for the fear of gas! Toss in some garlic (a potent gas buster and digestive soother) along with your beans next time!
Brocolli, the king of crucifers and hailed as a cancer cure, is a rich source of iron that you shouldn't shy away from.
Brocolli, the king of crucifers and hailed as a cancer cure, is a rich source of iron that you shouldn’t shy away from.
Parsely is rich in iron too! Sprinkle in your salad or juice it in your green punch and get not only the detox benefits but also the iron content!
Parsely is rich in iron too! Sprinkle in your salad or juice it in your green punch and get not only the detox benefits but also the iron content!
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is measured a percentage set against every 100g of produce. Photo credit: healthmunsta.
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