31 Iron Rich Foods for Vegetarians & Vegans

This Evidence Based article was written by

Great list of iron rich foods for vegetarians, vegans and anyone who wants to get more iron in their diet without eating a big steak.

Many vegetarians and vegans worry about getting enough iron in their diet. Since meat is traditionally thought of as the main source of iron, vegetarians need to find different sources to help them reach their recommended amount of iron each day. Fortunately, there are several delicious and easy-to-prepare options that are both rich in iron and vegetarian-friendly.

brussels sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

You may have resisted Brussels sprouts as a kid, but they’re hard to resist once you learn just how healthy these tasty veggies are. Brussels sprouts are a viable source of antioxidants, vitamins, folate, and fiber. Plus, they’re an excellent source of iron, and an obvious choice in helping to prevent fatigue and other symptoms of iron deficiency.

Serving Size (1/2 cup), 0.9 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 28 calories



Like other dried fruits, raisins are nutrient-dense treats that contain large amounts of iron. It’s easy to add a handful of these subtly sweet treats to your cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or salads as part of a balanced diet. To get the most out of your next handful of raisins, combine them with other healthy foods containing vitamin C. This will make it easier for your body to absorb the iron found in raisins.

Serving Size (1 small box), 0.8 milligrams of iron (4% DV), 129 calories



Many vegetarians worry about not getting enough iron or protein in their diets. Lentils can solve both problems, and then some! These colorful legumes are packed with vitamins and nutrients including iron, protein, and essential amino acids. Plus, they’re easy to cook and make a great companion to many meals. Lentils are traditionally used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, but they can spice up your soups, stews, pastas, and more.

Serving Size (1 cup, boiled), 6.6 milligrams of iron (37% DV), 230 calories

dried peaches

Dried Peaches

If you’re trying to get more iron in your diet, opt for dried fruit as opposed to fresh. Dried fruits pack more nutrients, including iron, per serving. Dried peaches make a great breakfast companion, a delicious addition to salads, and an easy snack throughout your busy day. A 100-gram serving of dried peaches contains about 23% of your daily recommended iron, without weighing you down with lots of sugar and calories.

Serving Size (100 grams), 4.1 milligrams of iron (23% DV), 239 calories


pumpskin seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

If you stopped eating pumpkin seeds when you stopped carving pumpkins as a kid, now is the time to start back up again. A handful of pumpkin seeds, or an ounce, contains about one milligram of iron. That’s about 5% of the recommended daily value. Pumpkin seeds provide the most benefit when eaten raw, but they still pack an iron punch when roasted for no more than 15-20 minutes.

Serving Size (1 ounce, about a handful), 4.2 milligrams of iron (23% DV), 151 calories.



Soybeans are another super food that packs protein, unsaturated fat (the “good fat”), fiber, and minerals such as iron. A single cup of mature, boiled soybeans contains nearly half the recommended amount of iron your body needs daily. Another great thing about soybeans is their versatility. Season these nutritional powerhouses to your liking, or add them to soups or chili for a healthy and delicious meal.

Serving Size (1 cup, boiled), 4.5 milligrams of iron (25% DV), 254 calories

pinto beans

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans contain a splash of color and a spattering of essential vitamins and minerals. Among them is iron, and it comes in no small quantity; just a cup of boiled pinto beans yields about 21% of the recommended daily value. Pair these colorful legumes with whole wheat rice for a virtually fat-free meal that’s as easy on your wallet as it is on your waistline. Or, enjoy them with your favorite veggies to introduce even more iron into your diet.

Serving Size (1 cup, boiled), 3.6 milligrams of iron (20% DV), 245 calories



Dark greens such as arugula have countless health benefits with a tiny calorie count. Vegetarians should consume plenty arugula, particularly for its rich iron content. Adding several servings to your diet each week can greatly improve the health of your red blood cells. The easiest way to enjoy arugula is in a green leafy salad, but you can also enjoy it in soups, as a pizza topping, and sautéed with pasta and other dishes.

Serving Size (1/2 cup), 0.1 milligrams of iron (1% DV), 2.5 calories

whole wheat pasta

Whole Wheat Pasta

Vegetarians should enjoy whole wheat pasta as part of a healthy balanced diet. Eating pasta is a great way to curb your cravings for carbs while getting essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. While white pasta contains these minerals as well, it can also weigh you down with extra carbs and calories, so choose the much healthier whole wheat pasta options.

Serving Size (1 cup), 1.5 milligrams of iron (8% DV), 174 calories

collard greens

Collard Greens

With staggering amounts of calcium, high levels of vitamin A, and several cancer-fighting elements, what’s not to love about collard greens? Vegetarians have another reason to love these dark green veggies, because they’re also high in both iron and vitamin C. To get the most out of these essential nutrients, use raw collard greens in a salad that’s filled with other iron-rich vegetables. The vitamin C in collard greens makes it easy for your body to absorb iron from other sources.

Serving Size (1 cup), 2.2 milligrams of iron (12% DV), 49.4 calories


Sesame Butter (Tahini)

Sesame butter, also known as tahini and often associated with hummus, can provide the body with a tremendous amount of iron. If you’re already eating plenty of iron-rich fruits and vegetables, tahini can be an excellent addition that will help you reach your daily iron needs. Many people eat tahini as is, but you can also use it to add some flavor to your favorite vegetables or to dress up a salad.

P.S. Take a look at the 5 veggies that boost female metabolism and burn off lower belly fat.

Users Comments:

  • mary5

    I love tahini in hummus. I’ll have to try it on veggies. Any other ideas about how to use it?

    • Thutto

      There are so many ways to eat hummus ! You can try with veggies, crackers (pita chips/triscuit/etc), and even hot wings! I like it in my lunch: lettuce wrap with turkey and a spoon of hummus. Yum!

    • spunk

      instead of a sphaghetti sauce… mix in with cooked veggies and whole wheat pasta. so very good and really good for you at the same time

    • Meebo1

      In a bowl, mix together some tahini w/ tamari and a little citrus (lemon, orange, even a little ACV will do) mix this sauce with soba noodles and then add stir fried broccoli and sprinkle on some pumpkin and sunflower seeds – Iron powerhouse meal. Even good straight out of the fridge the next day – cold sesame noodles!

      • Meebo1

        Also, for breakfast – I do some tahini on toast and then smash a half an avocado on top – add a splash of lemon and sprinkle of salt – my favorite breakfast.

    • Brandy

      I just read that sesame seeds (tahini) are linked with increase miscarriages, colon cancer, diverticulitis, and appendix issues (they get stuck there causing inflammation)… I was all on board with tahini until I read that. Anyone care to debate both sides to bring more clarification to us all? Thanks

      • Mark

        I’m guessing they’re talking about whole seeds getting stuck and causing inflammation. The Tahini I’ve had is a smooth paste with no remnants of the seed structure remaining.

  • Kisha Majors

    Regarding whole wheat pasta. In most case’s whole wheat does not mean less carbie. It will be just as carbie or more so. It still disolves in your system just like sugar, white flour, and starch. I wish people would stop making this crap up. Like pasta is healthy for us. It’s not. Period. And how is eating carb’s going to curb your carb cravings, huh? Maybe for about 2 hours when your insulin spikes to reduce your blood sugar and then… your blood sugar plummet’s and guess what happens? You crave carb’s again! Stick with the leafy greens, broccoli, and whole red meat for your IRON people! Seriously! (PS If your even close to being diabetic, pasta will not zap your energy levels, not the other way around) Trust me, I know. Years of eating carbage has taught me, eat meat, eat green’s!!!

    • Andrea

      Carbohydrates are a vital energy source for marathon runners and most people training for a marathon don’t get enough. Glucose from carbohydrates is stored in limited amounts in your muscles and liver as glycogen and it is glycogen that governs the length and intensity of your running both in training and in competition. The more glycogen you have on board, the longer you can keep going at a higher level of performance, and avoid ‘hitting the wall’ as your carbohydrate reserves run low and your body burns more fat for energy.

      The amount of carbohydrate-containing foods you eat can influence the amount of glycogen you store. Consuming carbohydrate before, during and after exercise provides blood glucose for energy and helps to maximize and speed up recovery and restore glycogen levels in time for your next training session or race.

    • RiverJordan

      This is a vegetarian/vegan page…that means we don’t eat red meat. There are reasons we don’t eat meat; I am vegetarian because i cannot even stand the smell of meat. You sound a little ridiculous saying eat meat eat meat on a vegan/vegetarian website. Sorry to burst your bubble. You are right about carbs it’s not healthy however if people choose to eat it so be it, don’t force your opinions on others. Thanks.

    • Seth

      Carbohydrates are not bad by any means. Saying not to eat carbs will put your body into a ketogenic state, which is not healthy. Do you eat pinto beans? Black beans? Lentils? Sweet Potatoes? Apples? Bananas? Or any other fruit for that matter? THEN YOU ARE EATING CARBS. Carbs are the main energy source for our body. Without them, we are unable to sustain long periods of training as muscle glycogen and liver glycogen stores run out. Andrea is right when she says eating carbs before, during, and after exercise is important to promote muscle gains, weight loss, and provide energy for exercise. I agree following a plant based diet, with lean proteins is great. But without carbs, your body will not have the energy it needs to live a healthy lifestyle. Therefore eat carbs, eat whole grains and brown rice. Yes, there are bad sources of carbs (i.e cake, cookies, white bread, enriched pasta) but the fiber and other nutrient benefits from whole grains and starchy vegetables will do your body good.

    • Lolly

      I wish people would stop putting apostrophes in words to try to make them plural. And, carbs are both delicious and a necessary part of a balanced diet.

    • GreenGirl

      My humble opinion is that meat if far worse for humans than whole grains. And of all the meats, red meat is the absolute worse is has a huge link to breast cancer and fibroids. Imagine eating red meat for iron because of fibroid related anemia only to find that the red meat is contributing to your condition in the first place? Our bodies are simply not made to process it but we eat it anyway because of Cultural factors. Eating meat is linked to all sorts of diseases. We’d all be better off getting our iron from a nice organic whole wheat pasta dish with veggies and fresh fruit than meat on any given day.
      Wheat flour has a higher nutrient value than white and does have health benefits including lowering your cholesterol. The refining process practically makes white sugar and white flour poison, there is a huge difference in food that is or is not “refined”. Best of health to everyone.

  • Lovinlife

    I’m not a vegetarian yet, but I’m researching and learning more about it, because one day I would like to go completely vegan. I’ve stopped eating beef and pork a few months back and I plan to stop eating chicken as well. As far as iron consumption is concerned, I think for someone like me that would be fairly easy since I like a lot of the foods listed here. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I could call myself a proud vegetarian.

    • ysabel

      I tried to be a vegetarian but due to iron defficiency I had to stop. I had severe anemia and my doctor advised me to eat red meat with the iron supplements… I am now ok. I am back to eating red meat. so good for those of you who have no side effects of becoming a vegetarian.

      • Adela

        Ysabel….one can become food-deficient with conventional food too! All you need is to get a good guidance, such as this page and many others. But you must be sure they come from responsible sources. Physicians are not trained on diets or lifestyles so they aren’t equipped to give advice. It’s a pity you’ve been made to deprive yourself of these God foods….. :o(

    • fi

      that’s great news about going vegie/vegan. Can i recommend a brilliant and informative ( encouraging too!) video … Gary Yourofsky’s Best ever speech on youtube. Think it will really encourage you and boost your ability to do this….. all the best….yours fiona x

  • Kylie

    I want to get all my iron intake from dark chocolate. I want to say no to kale and broccoli if possible ^_^. I’m finding this new vegetarian life very satisfying so far. I feel better and I’m definitely happier now that I don’t eat animal meat. But there’s still a lot of learning to do in order to live a healthy life as a vegetarian. I wish I had someone who could guide me through this, but since I don’t, the internet has been my teacher and friend through this journey. Anyways back to dark chocolate, now I have a good reason to gobble them up as I wish!

  • Noah

    Wow check out brussels sprouts! 0.9 milligrams of iron with just 28 calories!! Arugula is crazy rich in iron too with 0.146 milligrams of iron and just 3 calories. Dried thyme I’ve never heard of before, but I’ll definitely give it a try. I love these highly efficient foods that you give you so much nutrient with very little added calorie.

  • Rita Khairallah

    I am planning to be a vegetarian soon. So, I like all the foods listed here especially that they contain iron. This means instead of eating animal meat which was not made for human beings (Teeth) we eat healthy vegetables and clean our inside bodies….wowww

  • Annah

    Isn’t one cup of one sunflower seeds 144 gram and that means around 851 calories, not 269 as it says in the article?

  • Reannan

    Does the thyme have to be dried? I have it sitting on my windowsill nice and fresh 🙂

  • Valerie

    Hi Kylie, dark chocolate-eat in moderation;-)

  • snr Boadi

    tnx 4 the pictures of the items. Sometimes you might no know the name but with the picture one can easily identify. God bless this site.

  • reeta

    wheat substance is not rich in iron

  • Ishwar Patel

    Just been to my gap,after blood test they found that iron deficiency ,I was worried being vegetarian ,it will be difficult to manage but,oh my god after visiting this site,I m already there.

  • Patsy

    It’s true that dark chocolate and spinach have high levels of iron, but you make no mention of the fact that they also contain high levels of oxalates which inhibit non-heme (non-blood) iron absorption.

  • Anjali

    Thanks for this wonderful post , the best thing is you have mentioned vegan sources of Iron which is very useful for vegetarian like me

  • anjali

    Oops……. Am I vegitarian

  • Victoria

    This is great! My toddler has anaemia and I’ve been finding it difficult to give him a varied diet (all I could think of was spinach).

    I’m amazed at how much iron is in a potato. Again thank you!

  • mitesh

    Hi, its good to hear about lot of people turning towards vegetarian. I have tried Kale its amazing not only as source of iron but also as anti oxidant. I love spinach and other green veg. and I have seen lot of non veg people have iron + B12 folate defi.Thanks

  • rene

    Hi I’m actually a pescetarian. I cant go vegetarian because of an extreamly high metabolism, but do eat mostly vegetarian foods. this sight helped all lot.

    • Spot

      Though long time since your post I thought I’d querry couple thought patterns presented. Firstly why maintaining a diet containing meat that you would choose the worse form possible, that is fish (marine) forms. Fish are killed the slowest of all commercially killed animals, often dragged up in nets (squashed, oxygen deprived) to end up on board a vessel (out of their natural sphere) before eventually been killed. Our marine environments are also the most over exploited (tragedy of the commons) as far as stripping the marine environments of specific species without regards to the natural balance of species. This is before considering bio-catch and such wasteful practices as the shark-fin industry uses.
      Regards to high metabolism, would have thought a vegan diet is more than capable of supplying the neccessary energy in form of fats (e.g. nuts) and carbohydrates (e.g. cerials, fruit).
      I may be wrong regards to high metabolism so let me know if there is some magical property of meat that reduces your metabolism as I’m always glad to learn as don’t wish to remain ignorant of other peoples misfortunes.


    • Michelle Doll

      By high metabolism, do you mean that your body burns through calories efficiently? I have the highest metabolism of anyone I know, and I eat a vegan diet, except for eggs layed by my pet chickens & some dairy. As long as you eat a balanced diet, you can easily get enough calories. My meals start with whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, kasha, etc eaten along side 2 or 3 veggies, with lentils, beans, or eggs to round it out. I cook all greens until they just turn that lovely bright green color, and can be chewed without crunching. Finish your meal with herbal tea or fruit juice & some rice pudding (with raisins & nuts, of course), and you will get plenty of calories and iron. If you add some kind of fat to your greens, you will absorb vitamins A and K better. I typically eat 2500 kcals/day on this kind of diet. I eat salmon as a treat once or twice a year. I also bake my own whole wheat bread in a bread machine 1 or 2 times a week, mostly so I can control the ingredients. You wouldn’t believe the garbage they put in commercial bread these days. And my girls contribute an egg, so they get any leftovers. Circle of life, indeed. Hope this helps you eat healthier! Susun Weeds’ books on herbs encourage readers to “eat you weeds” for more nutrition, including iron! She give comprehensive analyses of each plant, along with how to find & prepare each one. I’m sure there are other book out there, I’m just most familiar with Susun Weed. Remember : if you get injured or ill, your metabolism will slow down, ditto with living until 40. 😉

    • OneForAll

      That’s strange – we keep being told to eat meat and fish to keep our metabolisms up, in order to lose weight (as in the Atkins or paleo diets).

      If you have a high metabolism, be thankful: you are the envy of most of us who don’t know how to keep our weight down.

  • laura

    Thank you so much for this informative article! I have struggled with anemia all my life and hate the side effects of iron pills. This article will help me conquer it once and for all. I didn’t know that vitamin C helped with the absorption and that is great to know. I should have more energy very shortly!

  • Tanmay

    I have been looking for veggie iron rich food. My wife is recently diagnosed to have chronic iron deficiency anemia and I want to help her the all the way I can. I have no knowledge about the iron rich foods, yes I have been studying online for the veggie foods. Can anyone please suggest me the various recipes that I can cook for her and help her recover? Please bless us with your knowledge and all sorts of helps that you can to help her.

  • Alana

    This site is so useful. My son and I are vegetarians and I worry about his iron intake. His daily allowance is easily made up looking at the amount of foods containing iron. So , thank you!

  • Esha

    Thank you….I am a vegetarian…this helped me a lot specially to feed my kids….thank you…god bless

  • hare krishna

    Hi! Indeed a very glad to see ur site. Iron deficiency. I am a pure vegetarian. What types of fruits, vegetables, and other products that will boost iron deficiency? Pl help

  • Adela

    Could somebody tell me what it means “DV” placed next to some percentages? Thanx.

    As to foods with iron in them, see these:


    Plus from this very site which I use:


    Arugula: (1/2 cup), 0.146 milligrams of iron (1.8% DV), 3 calories
    Black Beans: (1 cup, boiled), 3.6 milligrams of iron (20% DV), 277 calories
    Black-eyed Peas: (1 cup, boiled), 4.3 milligrams of iron (24% DV), 220 calories
    Broccoli: (1/2 cup), 0.3 milligrams of iron (2% DV), 15 calories
    Brown Rice: (1 cup), 0.8 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 216 calories
    Brussels Sprouts: (1/2 cup), 0.9 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 28 calories
    Collard Greens: (1 cup), 2.2 milligrams of iron (12% DV), 11 calories
    Cooked Spinach: (1 cup), 6.4 milligrams of iron (36% DV), 41 calories.
    Dark Chocolate: (100 grams), 6.3 milligrams of iron (35% DV), 578 calories
    Dried Apricots: (1/2 cup), 2 milligrams of iron (8% DV), 78 calories.
    Dried Peaches: (1/4 cup), 1.6 milligrams of iron (9% DV), 96 calories
    Dried Thyme: (1 teaspoon), 1.2 milligrams of iron (7% DV), 3 calories
    Kale: (1 cup), 1.1 milligrams of iron (6% DV), 1.3 calories
    Lentils: (1 cup, boiled), 6.6 milligrams of iron (37% DV), 230 calories
    Lima Beans: (1 cup, cooked), 4.5 milligrams of iron (25% DV), 216 calories
    Molasses: (1 tablespoon), 0.9 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 58 calories
    Oatmeal: (1/2 cup), 1.7 milligrams of iron (8% DV), 154 calories
    Peas: (1/2 cup), 1.2 milligrams of iron (7% DV), 62 calories
    Pinto beans: (1 cup, boiled), 3.6 milligrams of iron (21% DV), 245 calories
    Potatoes: (1 medium potato with skin),3.2 milligrams of iron (18% DV), 278 calories
    Prune Juice: (1 cup), 3 milligrams of iron (17% DV), 182 calories
    Pumpkin Sees: (1 ounce, about a handful), 0.9 milligrams of iron (5% DV), 126 calories.
    Raisins: (1/2 cup, packed), 1.6 milligrams of iron (9% DV), 247 calories
    Soybeans: (1 cup, boiled), 8.8 milligrams of iron (49% DV), 298 calories
    Strawberries: (1 pint), 1.5 milligrams of iron (9% DV), 114 calories
    Sun Dried Tomatoes: (1 cup), 4.9 milligrams of iron (27% DV), 139 calories
    Sunflower Seeds: (1 cup), 7.4 milligrams of iron (41% DV), 269 calories
    Tahini: (1 tablespoon), 0.4 milligrams of iron (2% DV), 86 calories
    Tofu: (1/2 cup), 3.4 milligrams of iron (19% DV), 88 calories
    Whole Wheat Bread: (1 slice), 0.7 milligrams of iron (4% DV), 69 calories
    Whole Wheat Pasta: (1/4 cup dry), 0.4 milligrams of iron (2% DV), 44 calories
    PLUS: Turnip greens; quinoa; sweet potatoes

    Hope it helps. You can help me by saying what this is “DV”. :o)

  • asha

    Please send me recipes of Sun dry tomato thanks

  • Julia

    Did anyone actually fact check this? A quick google check shows that one potato has about 10% DV of iron. The bag that I have says 6%. Where are you coming up with 18%???????

  • Mitesh Singh

    Is soy milk should be taken for iron deficient patient. And can one oats in milk as milk is rich in calcium while oats for iron?

  • Tulasiraj Rai

    Thank you, It is very informative!

  • Sukriti

    This page is very useful. Keep it up!!!
    But I have a doubt. I am suffering from anemia and my doctor has advised me to have pomegranate, raisins; none of which contain iron as per your list.
    Kindly help me out as to why she has given me to eat those things….

  • Sukriti

    Moreover, I have to take some iron syrup and pills too.
    I feel as if within 1 week of this medication i am growing fat
    Kindly help!!!!!

  • Sharon

    Wow! I am just reading the passion of everyone and I am so excited to have found a site where everyone not only voices their opinion but an explanation. This information really helps someone like me who is so very anemic try to figure out a regime for myself. Although each person has a different opinion, you are appreciated and I will take everything into consideration.

  • shah s

    nettle iis rich in iron and plenty about// it also contains all the vitamins and minerals//clenses the blood//the beauty of this plant is that its free /// every where in parks and waste land and woodlands//I call it the poor mans health plant//shah

  • michasds

    I’d like to know weather most of these ingrediances should be consumed Un coocked – or is coocking them OK? Also, how long to coock?

  • Mavi

    I don’r recommend soy nor its products, like tofu, lecithin, “protein” vegetable meat, etc. Nor soy drinks/milk, very bad for thyroid health and function, also causes hormones changes, pretty bad for all, especially babies and children. Women and men alike, bad bad bad, it’s mostly GMO to add more hurt to the injury.

  • felix

    You have the picture and heading for whole wheat pasta listed twice. One of the descriptions is for whole wheat bread not pasta.

  • Daisy Ray

    Remember to include vitamin c in your diet, or else you’ll have a hard time absorbing iron. Also, beware of coffee (why world, why?!?). If you’re a coffee drinker, make sure to do so at least 2 hours prior eating yummy foods filled with iron. Statistically, vegetarians have a higher iron deficiency rate than vegans. Diary and eggs have almost no iron. So next time you want to grab a big ol’ block of local cheese, try grabbing the kale instead.

  • Kathleen

    Great site and easy to read

  • Mickey Mouse

    The photograph and caption for whole weat bread is a duplicate of that for whole wheat pasta.

  • Mickey Mouse

    The photograph/caption for whole wheat bread is a duplicate of that for whole wheat pasta.

  • Jenn

    The blood tester at the local blood bank told me to take Flinstone vitamins and to avoid soft drinks, coffee and milk to help my iron

  • Noopur

    This helped me a lot as my mum Is a vegetarian , she has deficiency of haemoglobin so she needs to gain iron rich food in her diet ………

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