If you find yourself feeling sluggish or tired, mentally or physically, you may be suffering from an iron deficiency, known as anemia. Though meat has a reputation for being rich in iron, there are plenty of other iron-rich plant-based foods that provide all of the health benefits but none of the cholesterol or hormones. Iron is a mineral that is crucial for oxygen transportation throughout the blood, and iron deficiency is a relatively common and treatable condition.
While this may sound like a call to eat more meat, heme iron has been linked to an increased risk of coronary disease and colon cancer, since the body cannot limit how much heme iron it absorbs, leading to the possibility of an iron overdose (whereas with non-heme iron, the body takes only what it needs). Vitamin C also assists in iron absorption! Basically, iron is very important, so check out these 10 Iron-Rich Foods For More Energy and Stamina!
Source: Spicy Garlic Edamame
Also known as an immature soybean pod in its whole and unprocessed form, picked before it has had the chance to fully harden, edamame (an Americanized version of a Japanese word that translates roughly to “beans on a branch”) is a nutritious snack that has been consumed in Asia for hundreds of years. Try this Spicy Garlic Edamame recipe by Adam Merrin and Ryan Alvarez!
Though some worry about the hormonal effects of soy products, the truth is that the phytoestrogens in soybeans (which are plant hormones, not human hormones) have a relatively weak effect on the body, and can actually act as beneficial antioxidants. Edamame is an excellent source of iron, with one cup of cooked and shelled beans containing 20% of the daily recommended amount of iron, as well as 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. It is the perfect energy-boosting snack and can be eaten plain or with a variety of seasonings. Make Rene Barker‘s Edamame Black Bean Burgers With Soy Mayo!
Source: Molasses Spelt Cake
Though this may seem like an unusual item on the list, blackstrap molasses packs a surprisingly nutritional punch. Not to be confused with regular molasses, which is lighter in color and much sweeter, blackstrap molasses is produced after the third boiling of sugar cane or sugar beet, and has a dark and much more bitter flavor. However, it also has a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals. For dessert, try Lisa Dobler‘s Molasses Spelt Cake.
This popular superfood is technically a seed (not a grain) from a goosefoot species that is more closely related to beets and spinach than rice or oats. It originated in the South American Andes of Bolivia and Peru thousands of years ago, and was considered to be a sacred crop by the Incas, who called it chisaya mama or “mother grain.” Try Jesse Jane Lee‘s Protein-Packed Breakfast Quinoa Bowl.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains nearly 3 milligrams of iron or around 15% of the daily recommended amount. It also has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, more than both white and brown rice, making it a delicious and gluten-free grain alternative for those looking to bring more nutrients into their diet. Crissy Cavanaugh‘s High Protein Edamame Fried Quinoa Rice would make a great dinner
Source: Red Curry Soup With Lentils
These nutrient-packed legumes come in multiple varieties: red spilt lentils, French lentils, and green or brown lentils, just to name a few. Lentils are a truly ancient food, with evidence of lentil consumption dating as far back as 8000 BC in what is now northern Syria. Lentils were a staple food for the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians as well, and are currently eaten in many other places including India and the Middle East. Nutritionally speaking, lentils are packed with protein and fiber, and one cup of cooked lentils contains 6.6 milligrams of iron, approximately 37% of the daily recommended amount. For a lentil-packed recipe, try this Red Curry Soup With Lentils from the Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen cookbook.
Not to be reserved solely as a seasonal treat, pumpkin seeds can be purchased year-round, and are both delicious and nutritious, whether devoured as a snack or incorporated into a meal. However, if you have a pumpkin on hand, check out this article for information on how to roast and season them yourselves.
These seeds are dense in nutrients, with a quarter-cup containing 16% of the DRA for iron, 23% for zinc, 64% for manganese, and 45% for magnesium, among others. They also provide a hefty dose of protein and fiber, making them an excellent energy-boosting snack. For the perfect snack, try Selva Wohlgemuth‘s Power Bread With Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds.
Source: German Chocolate Cake
Chocolate lovers rejoice–there is now a legitimate excuse to indulge in this rich and creamy delight on a nightly (well, maybe weekly) basis! The health benefits of dark chocolate come largely from the higher concentration of cocoa, and the lower amount of sugar and fat. The higher the cocoa percentage, the more antioxidants it contains–it is recommended to choose a brand with at least 65% cocoa.
When consumed in moderation, dark chocolate can contribute to healthier and more flexible arteries and even reduce the risk of memory loss in the elderly. Try this German Chocolate Cake by Bridge Rose.
When purchasing dried apricots, or dried fruit of any kind, it is best to avoid brands using sulfur dioxide, a preservative that, while relatively safe for the majority of the population, can cause allergic reactions in a small percentage of individuals. Dried apricots are a good source of iron, with 1/2 a cup containing approximately 10% of the daily recommended amount. For a dessert option, try Lena Krasovskaya‘s Raw Blueberry Cheesecake With Apricot Walnut Crust.
Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter–why not sesame seed butter? This unique spread derives its name from the Arabic word tahinnyya, and has been a staple in Arabic and Middle Eastern cooking (to name just two cultures) for centuries. It has a creamy texture and a slightly bitter flavor, very different from most nut butters. It is a traditional ingredient in hummus (the full name being hummus bi tahiniyya, or “chickpeas in tahini”), and is used in both savory and sweet recipes.
Tahini is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and 2 tablespoons contain approximately 15% of your daily dose of iron, making it an ideal energizing spread to put on toast or use as the basis for a tasty sauce or dip. Make Travis Piper‘s Roasted Veggie Noodle Bowls With Lemon Tahini Dressing.
Source: Golden Turmeric Tahini Dressing
The stems of Swiss chard vary in color depending on the exact variety, and range from red to yellow to white. It has a soft texture similar to that of spinach and is less bitter than other leafy greens such as kale. This veggie is packed with antioxidants and multiple vitamins (A, C, and K specifically), and one cup of cooked chard contains roughly 20% of the daily recommended amount. For recipe ideas, try out Heather Poire‘s Rainbow Chard and Garlic Scape Fettuccine!
Source: Kidney Beans Spinach Masala
As with many other beans, kidney beans are rich in protein and fiber, making them filling and nutritious, and one cup of cooked kidney beans contains 4 milligrams of iron, or roughly 30% of the daily recommended dose. For a hearty dinner idea, make Gunjan Dudani‘s Kidney Beans Spinach Masala.
For additional information on foods that can get you through a long and tiring day, read up on 10 Healthy Sources of Carbs That Can Improve Your Mood and Boost Energy Levels.
For more iron-rich plant-based recipes, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App, which is available for Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based recipes, and subscribers gain access to new ones every day. Check it out–you’ll have more energy than ever before!
Lead image source: Kidney Beans Spinach Masala