A great way to guarantee you’re absorbing enough iron from plant foods is to eat a significant source of vitamin C with meals (such as an orange or orange juice), and avoid tea and coffee when eating.
Your body needs iron to be healthy and strong. It is needed to make proteins, such as haemoglobin and myoglobin. Popeye, however, wasn’t entirely accurate; while spinach does contain iron, it doesn’t have significant amounts of it – just 2.71mg in 100g, in fact!
Some iron-rich foods are other dark green leafy veg, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, peas, tofu, dried fruit – raisins, dates, figs, prunes and apricots, molasses, beans, artichokes, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds (these are great sprinkled on top of your morning cereal or porridge).
Here are some more suggestions, complete with levels:
Food: Fortified cereals
Serving: 40 g
Iron (mg): Varies according to brands: Grape-Nuts and Raisin Bran are amongst the highest, with up to 12 mg per serving
Food: Baked beans
Serving: Half a tin
Iron (mg): 2.5
Serving: Medium-sized serving
Iron (mg): 1.3
Food: Kidney beans
Serving: Quarter of a tin
Iron (mg): 2
The US National Institutes of Health RDA varies depending on your age and sex:A very small percentage of women develop iron-deficiency anaemia – this is especially the case with endurance runners, or women with heavy periods. If you have concerns about your iron levels, please visit your GP. They may decide to take a blood test and recommend supplementation if your iron levels are low.
- All age groups of men and postmenopausal women – 8 mg/day
- Premenopausal women – 18 mg/day
- The median dietary intake of iron is approximately 16 to 18 mg/day for men and 12 mg/day for women.