As an essential mineral, it’s important to ensure that you receive an adequate amount of iron each and every day in order to help your body function the way it’s supposed to. However, with a wide variety of vegan meals, getting the right amount of nutrition you need each day, especially the right vegan iron sources, it doesn’t have to be a hassle.
At Willow in NYC every dish is homey and familiar, then elevated with unique flavors and upscale presentation. We’re taking relatable American food and turning it on its head—then making it vegan!
Why is Iron Important?
Iron is important because it is an essential aspect of blood production, specifically in your red blood cells.
Hemoglobin, which is produced using iron, is the part of your blood that helps transfer oxygen from your lungs when you breathe into different areas of your body for healthy, proper function. Iron is also responsible for your myoglobin, which helps trap oxygen in your muscles and allows you to move properly.
For iron, it is recommended that you receive 8.7mg a day if you’re a male over 18, 14.8mg if you’re a female between 19 and 50, and 8.7mg if you’re a female over 50 years old. This value is known as your Recommended Dietary Intake, or RDI.
However, many people don’t meet this number each day, which can lead to iron deficiency.
What Can Iron Deficiency Cause?
Nearly 10 million people in the United States suffer from an iron deficiency. However, since iron is found most abundantly in lean meat and seafood, vegans are at a higher risk for developing an iron deficiency and anemia.
Without the right amounts of iron each day, your body will be unable to produce the red blood cells it needs. This can make it difficult for your blood to transport oxygen around your body and can result in signs and symptoms such as dizziness and difficulty breathing.
Top 6 Vegan Sources of Iron
Dark leafy greens
When it comes to iron, dark leafy greens are one of the best sources – for both vegans and non-vegans. Dark leafy greens can contain up to 36% of the average RDI, which is more than red meat and salmon.
They’re also rich in other key vitamins and minerals, such as folate and calcium.
Dark leafy greens include:
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
Legumes include beans, peas, and lentils, and they can contain up to 83% of the average RDI for iron. They’re versatile and easily incorporated into a variety of meals, with diverse flavors and textures to suit every palate.
Despite their small size, pumpkin seeds are rich in a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron. In fact, one cup of pumpkin seeds can contain nearly 3mg of iron, all in a small, bite-sized snack.
Pumpkin seeds are great alone as a snack throughout the day or can easily be combined with other popular nuts and dried fruits for a healthy trail mix. You can also easily incorporate these versatile iron sources into your recipes.
Iron doesn’t have to be consumed through food alone. An easy way to incorporate more iron into your diet is by substituting one of your drinks throughout the day with prune juice.
Half a cup of prune juice can provide up to 17% of the average RDI, which is nearly four times the amount half a cup of raw prunes would contain. Prune juice is also high in fiber and aids in digestion.
While prune juice is a great source of iron, however, too much fiber can be a bad thing, so you’ll want to explore other high iron options too.
Technically, tofu belongs with legumes – it’s a type of bean curd made from soybeans. However, due to its preparation, it almost seems like an entirely different food group.
Most often, tofu is used as a vegan meat alternative in many dishes. It can be pan-seared, fried, baked, and utilized in the kitchen in countless other ways.
It’s also a great source of iron. Half a cup of tofu can contain as much as 6.6mg of iron, which is more than many types of meats.
Lucky Iron Fish
No! This isn’t a type of fish that is high in iron. This amazing product is quite literally iron in fish shapes which you can add to any of your vegan dishes whilst cooking, or even into your water. If you know you have anemia, or are chronically low in iron, this alternative could be incredibly beneficial for you. Based on clinical studies they have discovered that those who use these iron fishes every day, (or the leaf shapes they come in) have a better iron status.
Dine with Willow Today
Here at Willow, we believe that each meal should be the perfect balance of health and taste to make sure you can enjoy each and every bite. A cozy vegan restaurant tucked into the heart of NYC, we offer a decadent menu of classic American comfort dishes with a vegan twist by elevating traditional American dishes with high-quality plant-based ingredients and upscale presentation.
Whether you’re looking to join us at our restaurant on 8th Avenue or want to take advantage of our online ordering options; you may indulge in delectable vegan cuisine for any occasion.