10 Meatless Tips to Get Enough Iron For Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Iron is important to the body's overall functioning. It carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our bodies. Iron also helps our muscles keep and store oxygen and it’s part of a number of enzymes used in cell functions. A deficiency of iron can delay normal motor and mental function while causing major fatigue. Bottom line--not getting enough of it makes everyday life difficult.
There are two forms of iron in the diet: heme and nonheme. Heme sources are more easily absorbed into the body and they are present in animal sources like meat, poultry, and fish. Nonheme sources of iron come from dairy foods, eggs, and plant-based foods. According to Eating Well, iron intake requirements are 1.8 times higher for vegetarians because nonheme iron is not absorbed as well as heme iron. The daily recommendation is 18 mg of iron a day but you may be surprised to learn where you can get it.
Here are ten ways to get iron throughout the day.
1. Add Spirulina to your smoothie.
Spirulina is a rich, versatile source of iron. It has 7 mg for just 1 teaspoon of the powder form.
2. Add tofu to your smoothie.
Tofu is a rich source of iron and the silken variety is great in smoothies. Just a 1/2 cup serving has 3.5 mg of iron.
3. Add pumpkin or sesame seeds to your granola.
Both pumpkin and sesame seeds have 3.5 mg of iron for a 1 ounce serving.
4. Add wheat germ to your granola or cereal.
Adding 1/4 cup of wheat germ to granola or cereal amounts to 2.1 mg of iron.
5. Add 1 cup of beans to rice or a salad.
Beans are a rich source of iron, equaling about 3.5 mg of iron, depending on the variety.
6. Add a stalk of broccoli.
One medium stalk of broccoli on a salad, stir fry, or for dippin' amounts to 2.1 mg of iron.
7. Sprinkle Nuts on Your Meal
An ounce of peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, or sunflower seeds are great sources of iron. Nuts equal .7 mg of iron for a serving.
8. Have a baked potato side.
Baked potatoes used to be all the rage but lately they’ve fallen off the radar due to a low carb craze. But don’t be fooled, a medium potato has 2.1 mg of iron.
9. Enjoy enriched egg noodles.
One cup of cooked, enriched egg noodles equals 2.1 mg of iron. Combine with beans for a one--two iron punch.
10. Drop spinach on everything.
One cup of spinach has .7 mg of iron and it cooks down to nothing. Add it to soups, stir fries, casseroles, pasta, and pretty much everything you eat.