Whether you’re a lifelong vegetarian or are actively transitioning to a non-meat diet, a common concern is making sure you still consume plenty of iron. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowances of iron for adults is 8-15 mg per day
While meat is often at the top of the list of recommended sources of iron, there are plenty of non-meat options that contain the same amount of iron, or more, than meat.
Dark leafy greens, especially spinach, provide a powerhouse of iron. Three cups of spinach contain about 18 mg of iron—that's more than an 8-ounce steak! You can meet your daily recommended dietary allowances of iron with just one hearty spinach salad.
Not only is broccoli jam-packed with iron and other key nutrients like vitamin K and magnesium, it’s also high in vitamin C, which helps encourage iron absorption in the body.
Whether you steam or sauté this tasty Chinese cabbage, you’ll be getting a healthy dose of vitamin A, in addition to 1.8 mg of iron per cup.
Just one cup of Swiss chard has 4 mg of iron, more than a 6-ounce hamburger. Swiss chard also contains valuable nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, and K, and B folates.
One large baked potato contains nearly three times the amount of iron as a 3-ounce serving of chicken. Top it with Greek yogurt (a high-protein substitute for sour cream), steamed broccoli, and a bit of melted cheese for a tasty weeknight dinner.
Legumes are a group of plants that include beans, peas, peanuts, and any other dry fruit that is contained in a pod or shell that can also be consumed. Legumes tend to be very high in iron, with hyacinth beans containing 5 mg of iron per ½ cup serving and winged beans containing 4 mg of iron per ½ cup serving. Green beans, white beans, and lima beans all have at least 2 mg of iron per serving.
Just one tablespoon of sesame seeds contains 1.3 mg of iron. And it's super simple to incorporate them into your diet, too. Sprinkle sesame seeds over a salad for added flavor and crunch or mix them into a dressing, sauce, or salsa before pouring over a dish.
And 8. Lentils
Just one cup of lentils has more iron than an 8-ounce steak. Lentils are also a solid source for dietary fiber, potassium, and protein. You can add lentils to your salad, or try soup—make it in bulk, then freeze the leftovers for later.
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