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Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, an erythrocyte protein that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, needed for healthy red blood cell function and oxygen production. It also supports a healthy metabolism and is necessary for growth and development, and the synthesis of hormones and connective tissues. Plant-based foods are loaded with enough iron to sustain your body for the long haul. Even sources that are listed as non-heme sources, can still be absorbed in the body.

In fact, there are many ways you can add plant-based iron sources of foods to your meals, even without really making much of an effort. Iron is found in many plant-based foods, many of which are also naturally energizing and alkalizing foods. When we consider eating iron for healthy blood, we should also consider how acidic those food choices are to our bodies. Meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal sources of iron may give us a dose of the vitamin, but at what cost? These foods are associated with high levels of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and unhealthy weights. They may also lead to chronic inflammation, and aren’t necessary with so many plant-based options.

Our blood prefers to maintain a slightly alkaline state, so it’s important to eat healthy, more alkaline sources of food-based sources of iron whenever possible. Below you’ll find not only plant-based sources, but how to use them in your kitchen and in your meals, as well as learn more about iron in a plant-based diet.