Iron Rich Vegetarian Foods

Written by rebecca mayglothling
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Iron Rich Vegetarian Foods
Lentils are high in iron. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

A vegetarian diet is chosen by people for various reasons. Some individuals do not believe in eating animals while others are restricted from animal products by a doctor. A nutrient found in abundance in meat is iron, so vegetarians need to find ways to keep iron in their diet while not violating their dietary desires or needs.

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Green Leafy Vegetables

Some green leafy vegetables high in iron content are spinach and Swiss chard. The vegetables can be cooked or eaten raw. Cooking Swiss chard will not reduce the iron content. A common misconception regarding leafy vegetables is that greener leaves hold more iron. This is not necessarily true. Choose vegetables which are proven by the USDA to have high iron content.

Iron Enriched Grains and Breads

Grains, especially cereal type grains, are very easy to enrich with iron. Check the iron content found in the food label on the side of the cereal box. The USDA regulates food labels and requires companies to list the amount of nutrients in food. Choose cereals and other grains fortified with iron. Breads can also be enriched with iron. Find iron-enriched breads by reading the labels found on the bag opposite the main label.


Dried and cooked beans are naturally rich in iron. Lentils, lima beans and soybeans are high in iron. Adding these ingredients to vegetarian dishes adds extra iron to dishes and provides vegetarians with nutrients usually found in meats or animal products. Peas are also iron rich, but other dried beans hold more iron than cooked peas.

Mixing with Vitamin C

Metabolising iron is difficult for the body, so pairing an iron rich food with a vitamin C enhanced food will help the body break down and use the iron. Vitamin C enriched foods include oranges, berries, tomatoes, broccoli and green peppers. A strong, healthy salad for a vegetarian attempting to gain the most benefits from iron rich foods includes spinach, mandarin oranges, dried lentils, broccoli and cranberries.

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