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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Not Eating Red Meat? Plant-Based Iron Sources

Not eating red meat? 

Where will you get your iron? It turns out that there a plenty of plant-based (vegan) foods that supply a significant amount of iron, in fact in many cases, more iron than in beef! 

Free Plate of Assorted Vegetables Beside a Plate of Nuts and Beans Stock Photo

How much iron does a man or post menopausal woman need? 
8 grams of iron per day (a pre-menopausal woman needs 18gm/day) 

Beef: A 4 oz serving of lean ground beef provides 2.5 mg of iron which is about 14 percent of your daily value (source)

Which non-meat (non-heme) sources have more iron?

Lentils:  A cup of cooked lentils provides 7 grams of iron.
Find recipe for lentil soup here.

lentil soup www.realfoodblogger.com

So don't worry about getting enough iron if you have stopped eating red meat. Try some of the plant-based options that may provide more iron than beef (4 ounce servings has 2.5mg.)

Free Appetizing tasty stewed chickpeas in bowl topped with red onion slices and parsley placed on marble table near plate with fresh bread Stock Photo

Beans are Good Sources of Plant-Based Iron
Chickpeas- 1 cup cooked has 4.7 mg
Navy Beans -1 cup cooked has 4.3 mg
Black Eyed Peas -1 cup cooked has 4.3 mg
Lima Beans (Butter Beans)- 1 cup cooked has 4.1 mg
Quinoa- 1 cup cooked has 2.8 mg

Free Close-Up Shot of a Hummus on Bowls Stock Photo

Vegetables Also Contain Iron 

Spinach -1 cup cooked has 5.7 mg
Hearts of Palm - 1 cup  has 4.6 mg
Mushrooms -  1 cup cooked has 2.7 mg
Sweet Potato- 1 large peeled and cooked ha 2.2 mg 
Black Olives - 1 cup has 8.5 (olives are actually a fruit)

* most vegetables contain some amount of iron. When cooking with multiple vegetables, the iron content of the recipe can add up!

Note about absorbability of plant-based iron: 
Plant-based iron is not as easily absorbed as heme iron UNLESS you use some of the following simple well known strategies:


1. Eating foods rich in vitamin C at the same time as a food rich in plant-based iron increases absorption. Add a squirt of lemon juice to your lentil soup!

2. Don't drink coffee or tea with lunch or dinner because it inhibits the absorption of iron from the foods you are eating.

Recipes that are are rich in plant-based iron 

greek lemon soup, vegan, chickpeas

Greek Lemon Soup (photo above)

black bean soup

fava beans, foul medemas,  brunch

Food, Arab, Arabic, Tabbouleh, Salad

quinoa with sliced almonds and white raisins

Today our low temperature dropped to 53 degrees! 
That says soup weather to me!

Free photos of Soup


  1. Plants mainly contain nonheme iron, so even if it's high in iron, absorption of iron is low. So, it's not highly bioavailable. However, if it works for you, then it's the right diet for you.

  2. What a great reminder of iron rich foods. I tend to run anemic, so this is helpful. I never knew hearts of palm were a decent source of iron. I add them to so many salads I make!

  3. Judee, great information and quite interesting, especially the info on quinoa, I had no idea.

  4. Important information Judee, thank you. It's so interesting that citrus can increase absorption!

  5. Have a great New Year. I hope you and your family are enjoying the hollidays.
    best, mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  6. Mmmm! That Greek lemon soup looks so nourishing, it could almost tempt back into the kitchen tonight -- and I just finished cleaning up for the night! Maybe tomorrow...

  7. I am going to try your black bean soup recipe. It does look easy, easier than mine, anyway, and I love black bean soup!

  8. So informative! Thanks for sharing with Weekend Cooking!

  9. Do you take supplements as well? Not only for iron, but Vitamin B12. I know vegetarian diets can be lacking in both. Out of your list, mushrooms feature high on mine.
    from Tandy I Lavender and Lime https://tandysinclair.com

  10. Very interesting....good information!!....Abrazotes, Marcela

  11. Thank you for this information and great reminder to consider iron.


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