The Healthiest Iron Rich Plant-Based Foods For Every Body

Supercharge your diet with iron.

Do I need to Eat My Cast-iron Skillet?

Perhaps, a little.  🙄 

Iron is one of the essential nutrients. It is a central part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.  Iron deficiency presents quite a few health hazards: anemia, fatigue, and memory loss to name a few.  

There are two forms of iron found in food: heme and non-heme iron. 

Heme iron makes up 40% of the iron in meat, poultry, and fish. On the other hand, non-heme iron is 60% percent of the iron in animal tissue and all the iron in plants, fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. 

Contrary to popular belief, people on a plant-based diet are not any more or less deficient in iron than their carnivore friends. In fact, I just had the blood test, and my iron level was a bit too high!

Not to mention, many plant-based iron sources are superior to animal-derived foods. For example, you would have to eat more than 1,700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron as found in 100 calories of spinach. So, 1 cup of cooked spinach contains 6.4 milligrams of iron.  Women ages 19 to 50 can get away with 18 mg of iron per day. And men, at the same age group, at  8 mg.  

How Can I Increase My Iron Intake?

1) Use Iron Skeleton

I’ve been using Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Pan for nearly three years. It is a great investment for your health! They are heavy, expensive, but made of high-grade iron and last very long.

2) Add Iron Rich Foods to your diet (in mg):

Plant Based Iron Foods
Plant-Based Iron Foods
  • Lentils (1 cup cooked) – 6.6
  • Spinach  (1 cup cooked) – 6.4
  • Tofu (4 ounces) – 6.4 mg
  • Chickpeas (1 cup cooked) – 4.7
  • Lima beans (1 cup cooked) – 4.5
  • Kidney beans (1 cup cooked) – 3.9
  • Black beans (1 cup cooked) – 3.6
  • Pinto beans (1 cup cooked) – 3.6
  • Quinoa (1 cup cooked) – 2.8
  • Beet greens (1 cup cooked) –  2.7
  • Pumpkin seeds (1 cup) – 2.1
  • Mushroom (1 cup) – 1.9

3) Make the “Iron Fiesta” Lunch Special:

Iron Fiesta
Iron Salad
  • Ingredients:
  • 1/5 cup of extra of extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup of cooked red beans
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • garlic to taste

Preparation (30 minutes): I use a pressure cooker for beans.

  1. To Make Beans: 1 cup of beans to 3 cups of water, cook on high pressure for 25 minutes with natural pressure release.
  2. To Make Lentils: Bring 1 cup of water to boil, add lentils and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Set beans and lentils aside.  
  4. To Make Tofu:
    >>  Mix turmeric, cayenne pepper, and crushed garlic in a small dish and dump tofu into the >>  Heat up the iron skeleton for about 1 minute
    >>  Add 1/4 cup of water and bring it to boil
    >>  Put the tofu mixture, broccoli and add 1/4 cup of water to the pan
    >>  Cook for 7 minutes (until broccoli is bright green) on low heat. Add lentils, beans, spinach to the mix and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Serve on a big plate, decorate with pumpkin seeds. This meal has a perfect balance of iron, protein and vitamin C.

4) Do I need Iron Supplements?

Please note, vegan or vegetarian diets aren’t always the healthiest choice. With so many junk options to choose from, you get sugar, fat, and oil junk. On the other hand, eating a healthy variety of plant-based foods will mostly guarantee your iron health.  Especially if you are following Dr. Michael Greger M.D. advice.

However, some meds and health issues can cause iron deficiency.

For instance, I had a deep vein blood clot in my ankle after a skiing accident. As a result, I was taking the blood thinners. So, during this time, I turbo-charged my intake. And added a supplement.  

Iron Supplements are absorbed the best when taken with vitamin C or vitamin C rich foods.

If you must take supplements for health reasons the raw iron supplements from “Garden Of Life” is my drug of choice. It is the easiest to digest and I didn’t experience any side effects. Best to take with breakfast or lunch and add Vitamin C or Vitamin C-rich foods.

Further reading:

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Anna Sheinman. They are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and they are not intended as medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from my own research and experience. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.


  1. Keeping up with my levels of iron is always a little challenge for me when I’m on my period, so thank you for this list. I recently started adding almond butter to my diet, and noticed that it contains 4 mg of iron per serving, so that’s been one way of replenishing my iron levels (& adding protein, of course).

    • Hi Barbara,

      Adding iron rich foods change my period! I used to have really bad headaches and joint aches. Almonds are great! I am working on my next blog for the period:-)


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