Many families are eating a more plant-based diet these days. Eating vegetarian or vegan meals means you have to keep track of the nutrients in your diet—specifically protein, calcium, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and iron. The great news is there are plenty of plant-based options that contain all these nutrients. If you want to ensure your family is getting all the iron they need, we’ve compiled a list of plant-based foods that are rich in iron.

Not getting enough iron can lead to fatigue, weakness, and regularly feeling cold. Iron supplements do exist, and you should talk to your doctor about your family’s iron needs if you feel concerned about it. The recommended daily intake (RDI) is based on an average intake of 18 mg per day. The RDI can also vary by individual requirements, a person’s sex, and age.

Whether you’re looking for iron rich food for vegetarian meals or you’re simply wanting to incorporate more iron into your family meals, we’ve rounded up a list of iron-rich, healthy food ideas to get you started.

6 food groups that contain iron rich food for vegetarian, vegan or plant-based family meals

1. Beans, beans and more beans

Legumes are loaded with iron! Beans, peas and lentils are a great source of iron, and there’s so much you can do with them.

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Red kidney beans
  • White beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans

2. Seeds and nuts

If you love a good, salty snack—you’re in luck. Seeds and nuts provide a good amount of iron, and they’re a great snacking option for anyone without nut allergies.

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Macadamia nuts

3. Veggies

So many vegetables are loaded with iron—especially those leafy greens. Salads, smoothies, vegetarian stir-fry: the options are endless!

  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes (particularly the skins)
  • Mushrooms
  • Palm Hearts
  • Squash

4. Fruits

You may not think fruit = iron, but you’d be wrong. Dried fruit can especially be rich in iron—a great snack!

  • Apricots
  • Prunes
  • Mulberries

5. Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Amaranth
  • Oats

6. Sweets

  • Coconut milk
  • Baking chocolate/dark chocolate
  • Blackstrap molasses

A version of this post was published June 4, 2021. It has been updated.

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