Iron Rich Vegan Foods to Meet Your Nutritional Needs

Discover iron-rich vegan foods and plant-based iron sources to meet your nutritional needs. Explore a variety of vegan iron sources!

Iron is an Essential Mineral

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the body, including the production of blood cells and the transportation of oxygen.

While it is commonly associated with animal products, are there plenty of iron-rich vegan foods that can help meet your nutritional needs?

Why is Iron Important?

Iron is crucial for the body because it helps carry oxygen to all cells, tissues, and organs.

It is a key component of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that binds to oxygen and delivers it throughout the body.

Iron also helps support a healthy immune system and is involved in energy production.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

The recommended daily allowance of iron varies depending on age, gender, and other factors.

For adult men and post-menopausal women, the recommended intake is 8 milligrams per day.

However, pre-menopausal women need 18 milligrams per day to account for iron losses during menstruation.

Which Vegan Foods Contain Iron?

Contrary to popular belief, there are many plant-based iron sources that can provide adequate amounts of this essential nutrient.


Different kinds of beans on dark background
Beans are a good source of iron / Photo by Tijana Drndarski

Lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are excellent sources of iron. One cup of cooked lentils provides approximately 6.6 milligrams of iron.

Dark Leafy Greens

kale leafs
Kale is rich with iron / Photo by Kiona

Vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are not only packed with vitamins and minerals but are also high in iron. For instance, one cup of cooked spinach contains around 6.4 milligrams of iron.

Nuts and Seeds

various nuts in bowls on a table
Various nuts rich in iron / Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya

Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are good sources of iron. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains approximately 4.2 milligrams of iron.


Tofu Bowl 2
Iron rich meal with tofu, beans and green salad. Photo by shri

Tofu, made from soybeans, is a versatile and protein-rich food that also contains iron (2.7 mg per 100grams), making it a valuable component of vegan meals.

Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cocoa)

dark chocolate in a bowl
Sweet savior of dark chocolate / Photo by Monika Grabkowska

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is not only a delicious treat but also a surprising source of iron (11.9 mg per 100grams), making it a satisfying addition to a vegan diet in moderation.


tahini sauce with a vegetable dish
Tahini sauce with a vegetable dish / Photo by cleo stracuzza

Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, is a flavorful and iron-rich (5.2 mg per 100 grams) condiment commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, adding depth to vegan dishes.


Spirulina cake
Spirulina cake is an awesome idea for iron sources / Photo by Vita Marija Murenaite

Spirulina is a nutrient-dense blue-green algae that packs a powerful iron punch (28.5 mg per 100 grams), along with protein and various vitamins, making it a unique addition to smoothies or as a supplement.

Swiss Chard

Organic chard from the garden
Photo by Jo Sonn / Unsplash

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that offers a moderate amount of iron (2.2 mg per 100 grams) and is known for its vibrant colors and slightly bitter flavor, making it a nutritious and visually appealing choice.


Edamame beans on a sushi type dish
Edamame Beans / Photo by Curtis Thornton

Edamame, young and green soybeans, are a tasty and iron-rich ( 2.1 mg per 100 grams) snack or addition to meals, providing not only iron but also protein and other essential nutrients.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy / Photo by Christina Rumpf

Bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, contains a modest amount of iron (0.8 mg per 100 grams) along with other vitamins and minerals, making it a versatile and crunchy addition to stir-fries and salads.Is this conversation helpful so far?

Beet Greens

Beet Greens
Beet Greens / Photo by Monika Grabkowska

Beet greens, the leafy tops of beets, are a nutritious green with a moderate iron conten (2.1 mg per 100 grams), providing a tasty way to use the whole vegetable in your meals.

Dried Figs

dried figs
Dried Figs / Photo by Tom Hermans

Dried figs are a naturally sweet and chewy snack that offers a decent amount of iron (3.1 mg per 100 grams), making them a delightful addition to trail mixes or enjoyed on their own.


Molasses Cake
Molasses Cake / Photo by Molly Simone

Molasses is a thick, dark syrup derived from sugar cane or sugar beet juice, and it is a rich source of iron (9.7 mg per 100 grams), adding a robust flavor to baked goods and dishes.

Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)

cocoa powder
Cocoa Powder / Photo by Anastasia Eremina

Unsweetened cocoa powder is not only a key ingredient in chocolatey desserts but also a surprisingly rich source of iron (13.9 mg per 100 grams), adding a decadent touch to your favorite vegan treats.

Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)

pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great snack / Photo by CHUTTERSNAP

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a crunchy and nutrient-dense snack that contains a notable amount of iron (8.8 mg per 100 grams), making them a flavorful addition to salads or a convenient on-the-go option.


Raisins in a bowl.
Raisins / Photo by Andreas Haslinger

Raisins are dried grapes that offer a small yet concentrated source of iron (1.9 mg per 100 grams), making them a naturally sweet addition to cereals, oatmeal, or trail mixes.

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Eggplant and tomato bruschetta
Eggplant and tomato bruschetta / Photo by Mariana Medvedeva

Sun-dried tomatoes are tomatoes that have been dried to concentrate their flavors, and they are a flavorful and iron-rich (9.1 mg per 100 grams) addition to salads, pasta dishes, or wraps.


Organic Artichokes
Artichoke / Photo by Martin Adams

Artichokes are a versatile vegetable that provides a modest amount of iron (1.3 mg per 100 grams), along with dietary fiber and other nutrients, making them a delicious addition to various vegan recipes.


Healthy Pistachio Snack
Pistachios / Photo by Joanna Kosinska

Pistachios are a delicious nut that contains a notable amount of iron (3.9 mg per 100 grams). They make for a satisfying and nutritious snack or can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes.

Dulse (Seaweed)

Raw & dried Dulse
Raw & dried Dulse / Photo by Bakd&Raw by Karolin Baitinger

Dulse, a type of red seaweed, is exceptionally high in iron (28.5 mg per 100 grams). It can be enjoyed in salads, soups, or as a snack and is a potent addition to a vegan diet.

How Can Vegans Get Iron?

To ensure adequate iron intake on a vegan diet, it's important to incorporate a variety of iron-rich foods into your meals.

Here are some tips to help you meet your iron needs:

Pair Iron-Rich Foods with Vitamin C

various citrus fruits - citron, orange, grapefruit
Citrus Fruits are Rich with Vitamic C / Photo by Rayia Soderberg

Consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, and bell peppers, can enhance iron absorption. Try adding lemon juice to your lentil soup or enjoying a spinach salad with some strawberries.

Avoid Consuming Iron Inhibitors with Iron-Rich Foods

a cup of black coffee
Coffee can be harmful for iron absorption / Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Some compounds, like phytates and tannins found in tea, coffee, and whole grains, can inhibit iron absorption. It's best to avoid consuming these inhibitors with iron-rich meals. If you choose to have tea or coffee, consider drinking them between meals.

Consider Iron Supplements

If you're having difficulty meeting your iron requirements through diet alone, you may want to discuss iron supplementation with a healthcare professional. They can recommend the appropriate dosage and ensure you're not exceeding your needs.

Remember, although iron deficiencies can occur in vegans, with proper planning and a varied diet, it is completely possible to meet your iron needs on a plant-based diet and without using vegan iron supplements.

So, next time you're looking to boost your iron intake, try incorporating some of these vegan foods into your daily meals.

Your body will thank you!