Top 20 Rich Iron Foods For Vegetarian

Iron is an essential micronutrient that plays numerous functions in the body. It is present both in animals and plants.

Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Iron is required for the formation of hemoglobin. So it means that iron is the building block of red blood cells.

Rich iron foods for vegetarian is very necessary because iron deficiency will disrupt all the function of the body.

A deficiency of iron causes anemia which is called iron deficiency anemia. Usually, iron deficiency is determined through a blood test.

The Daily Value DV for almost all vegetarians is 18 mg per day. This amount of iron is for all individuals except pregnant women. DV for pregnant women is 27 mg per day.

The recommended daily intake of iron is depended on how much iron you consume per day. The deficiency of iron happens when the consumption of iron is greater than the intake.

There are two types of iron heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal products, while non-heme is found in plant products.

Lack of iron in the diet leads to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is profound mostly in vegetarians because non-heme iron is not absorbed easily in the body. But luckily lots of rich iron foods for vegetarian are available that can fulfill your iron need.

To maintain a proper level of iron, vegetarians should include at least one iron rich food in their snacks, breakfast, dinner and lunch.

Another good option for a vegetarian to compensate for iron deficiency is the use of fortified foods. The manufacturers have designed special iron fortified foods that meet vegetarians’ iron requirements. 

Iron rich foods in pregnancy are not sufficient, pregnant women should take iron supplementations.

In this article, we list the 20 highest iron rich foods for vegetarians.

Rich iron foods for vegetarian

The most common and high iron rich foods for vegetarians include:

  1. Spinach

All leafy green vegetables are a rich source of minerals, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins.

One cup of cooked spinach contains 6.45mg of iron.

Most all people eat spinach for dinner and lunch. Spinach is the cheapest and is found in all parts of the world.

2. Lentils

lentils are a good source of vitamins, protein, fiber and iron. Lentils also contain magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium.

One cup of cooked lentils provides 6.5 mg of iron or 37% of the RDI. One cup of cooked lentils also contains 18 grams of protein and 65% of the DV for fiber.

3. Potatoes

it is a good source of iron, carb, vitamin, and other micronutrients. Iron is present in the skin.

One large potato (299 grams) provides 1.9 mg of iron or 11% of the DV.

Sweet potato of the same size contains 2.2 mg of iron and 12% of the DV.

4. Tomato

One cup of raw tomato delivers 0.5 mg of iron but the content of iron is increased when it is dried.

For instance, 66 grams of dried tomato paste provides 2 mg of iron or 11% of the DV for iron. 245 grams of canned tomato sauce contains 2.5 mg or 13% of the DV for iron.

Besides iron, tomato is a rich source of vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron from the gut.

5. Mushrooms

Along with other nutrients mushrooms are a rich source of iron.

One cup or 156 grams of cooked white mushroom provides 2.7 mg iron or 15% of the DV.

Uncooked oyster mushrooms deliver 7% of the DV per cup.

6. Olives

100 grams of black olives contain 6.3 mg of iron or 35% of the DV for iron.

Besides iron olives also contain vitamins, fiber, carbs and other minerals.

7. Mulberries

Mulberries are a unique type of fruit that offer good content of iron and other nutrients.

One cup of mulberries contains 2.6 mg of iron or 14% of the DV.

It is also a good source of vitamin c. vitamin c increases the absorption of iron.

8. Palm hearts

Usually, vegetarians forget the nutritive value of palm hearts. It has various medicinal uses also.

One cup of palm hearts contains 4.6 mg of iron or 26% of the DV.

They are a good source of vitamin c, manganese, potassium, folate, and fiber.

9. Prune juice

One cup or 237 mL of prune juice provides 2.9 mg of iron or 16% of the DV.

Prune juice also contains vitamin c, vitamin B6, carbs, manganese, potassium, and fiber.

It is a good home remedy for constipation because of its laxative effect.

10. Amaranth

Amaranth is a pseudocereal grain and has a considerable amount of iron.

One cup or 246 grams of amaranth delivers 5.2 mg of iron or 29% of the DV. It also contains carbs, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber and manganese.

11. Oats

Oats are a good source of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. So it promotes heart health, and gut health and reduce blood sugar level.

234 grams or one cup of oats provides 1.2 mg of iron or 12% of the DV. They also contain protein, fiber, zinc, folate, magnesium and manganese.

12. Quinoa

one cooked cup or 185 grams delivers 2.8 mg of iron or 16% of the DV.

Quinoa is a rich source of antioxidants, calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc.

It reduces glucose tolerance and improves cardiovascular diseases.

13. Spelt

One cup or 194 grams of cooked spelt offer 3.2 mg of iron or 18% of the DV.

Besides iron, spelt contains zinc, selenium, fiber, magnesium, carbs and vitamins.

14. Dark chocolate

Traditionally dark chocolate is a dessert food. It contains a considerable amount of iron and other nutrients.

3 ounces of dark chocolate offer 7 mg of iron. But it is also a rich source of manganese, magnesium, copper, fiber and vitamins.

15. Coconut milk

Along with iron coconut milk contains copper, vitamins, magnesium, fat, etc.

One cup or 226 grams of coconut milk offer 7.5 mg of iron or 42% of the DV.

16. Blackstrap molasses

Two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses contain 1.9 mg of iron or 11% of the DV.

it is also a rich source of manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, potassium, fiber and vitamins.

17. Dried thyme

One dried tablespoon of dried thyme offers 1.2 mg of iron or 7% of the DV.

18. Dried apricots

Dried apricots have a high content of sugar and calories. That’s why people avoid them because of a scare of weight gain.

One cup of apricot offers 4.1 mg of iron. To avoid weight gain use them in moderation.

19. Tofu

A half cup of tofu offers 6.6 mg of iron. It has also many good benefits such as reducing heart disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

20. Beans

One cup of white kidney beans offers 5.2 mg of iron.

One cup of chickpeas contains 4.74 mg of iron

One cup of red kidney beans contains 3.9 mg of iron

One cup of black eye peas contains 3.59 mg of iron

Beans contain lots of other macro and micronutrients too.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

Usually, iron deficiency takes a long time to develop. Nearly all people don’t know that they have an iron deficiency until the symptoms worsen.

But luckily iron deficiency recovers without any treatment. But if you have symptoms of iron deficiency consult a doctor immediately.  

Symptoms of iron deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • General weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Cold feet and hand
  • Brittle nails
  • Soreness of tongue
  • Loss of appetite especially in children and infants
  • Cravings for non-nutritive substances, like ice, starch, or dirt

Recommended Daily Intake of iron RDI

The recommended daily intake of iron is:

  • Birth to 6 months    0.27 mg
  • 7-12 months             11 mg
  • 1-3 years                    7 mg  
  • 4-8 years                     10 mg
  • 9-13 years                  8 mg
  • 14-18 years                11 mg for males and 15 mg for female
  • 19-50 years                 8 mg for male and 18 mg for female
  • 51+ years                     8 mg for both
  • Pregnant women 14-50 years            27 mg
  • lactating women 14-18 years           10 mg
  • lactating women 18-50 years            9 mg 


Iron is essential for the health of all people. A deficiency of iron leads to various medical complications. There are some types of foods that contain a large amount of iron.

Rich iron foods for vegetarian are very necessary because they avoid meat and animal products. Along with foods also use iron supplementation because iron from the plant is not completely absorbed.

Iron rich foods for vegetarians are spinach, lentils, amaranth, potato, tomato, dark chocolate, beans, cereals etc.


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