iron rich foods vegetables

Last Updated on May 9, 2024

Feeling drained and lethargic? This could be due to low iron levels in your body, a common issue among Americans. By knowing which delicious vegetables are high in iron – like spinach or Swiss chard – you can easily boost the essential mineral intake that keeps your energy high and brain sharp.

We will show you the best vegetable sources of this mighty mineral, so grab a fork, and let’s dig in!

How Much Iron You Need Daily 

Iron is an essential mineral for the human body as it plays a vital role in various bodily functions. It is necessary for oxygen transport, energy production, and a healthy immune system. The importance of meeting your daily iron intake cannot be overstated.

However, the daily iron requirement for the human body varies depending on factors such as agegender, and overall health.

The recommended daily intake for iron is higher for certain groups, such as premenopausal women and adolescents, due to increased needs during growth and menstruation.For adult men and postmenopausal women, the recommended daily intake is lower.

So, the recommended dietary allowance for iron varies between 8 mg and 18 mg per day, with pregnant women requiring slightly higher amounts. 

Type of Iron Found in Vegetables

fiber vegetables

There are two types of iron in food, heme and non-heme iron.

Non-heme iron is found in vegetables that can be easily incorporated into various dishes, ranging from salads to smoothies, providing a healthy and iron-rich addition to one’s diet.

Aside from veggies, beans and lentils are also rich in iron. For vegetarians and vegans, these legumes serve as a valuable alternative to animal products. 

Causes of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is a common nutritional disorder that occurs when you don’t get enough iron in the body.

There are several causes of iron deficiency, including an inadequate intake of iron-rich foods, poor absorption of iron by the body, and excessive blood loss. 

Top 6 Vegetables High in Iron

Spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli are iron-rich vegetables.

1. Spinach

6.43 mg of iron per cup of cooked spinach

Spinach deserves a shout-out for its impressive amount of iron. As a nutritional powerhouse among vegetables, spinach stands out not only because it’s a good source of iron but also as a source of protein

In addition, it provides other vital nutrients it provides like vitamins and minerals. This green wonder is versatile and can be incorporated into your meals effortlessly; you can toss it in salads or blend it with smoothies.

You’ll find this iron-packed veggie to be a simple yet effective way to boost your everyday iron intake.

2. Beet Greens

2.7 mg of iron in one cup of cooked beet greens.

They are a fantastic vegetable with the most iron that often gets overlooked. These leafy green tops of beets are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients.

What’s more, they also contain significant amounts of fiber, folate, and vitamins A and K.

Incorporating beet greens into your diet is easy – sauté them with garlic and olive oil or add them to salads for a nutritious and flavorful boost.

3. Brussels Sprouts

2 mg of iron in one cup of cooked sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are one of the foods high in iron that you should definitely consider adding to your diet.

These small, green gems pack a punch when it comes to iron, making them a great choice for those looking to increase their iron intake.

In addition to being rich in iron, they also provide other essential nutrients like vitamin C and fiber.

With their slightly nutty flavor and tender texture, they can be roasted with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a delicious side dish or you can make Brussels sprouts salad for an extra boost of nutrition.

4. Kale

1.14 mg per cup of raw kale.

Kale is a nutrient-packed vegetable that also happens to be iron-rich, making it an excellent choice for those looking to increase their iron intake.

This powerhouse not only provides the body with this essential mineral but also offers numerous other health benefits.

Kale is rich in antioxidants and fiber, which can support digestion and promote overall well-being. Additionally, it contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and potassium.

With its impressive iron content and versatile nature, kale is undoubtedly a top contender when it comes to iron-rich veggies.

5. Broccoli

1 mg of iron in one cup of cooked broccoli.

Broccoli is another iron-containing vegetable that you should consider adding to your diet.

Not only does it provide a good amount of this essential mineral, but it’s also packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for promoting a strong immune system and healthy digestion. 

6. Swiss Chard

0.65 mg of iron in one 36-g cup of cooked Swiss chard.

It is a leafy vegetable that packs a punch of iron. This vibrant veggie not only adds color to your plate but also provides a lot of this essential mineral.

Along with its high iron levels, it also offers an array of other nutrients and antioxidants that support immune function and protect against chronic diseases.

Legumes High In Iron

Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are particularly rich in iron.


6.6 mg of iron per 100 grams, which is approximately 37% of the recommended daily intake for adults. 

Chickpeas and Kidney Beans

Around 2.9 mg and 1.5 mg of iron per 100 grams.

3 b3an salad

Additionally, legumes have the advantage of being low in fat and high in fiber, promoting healthy digestion and weight management.

Whole Grains High In Iron

Whole grains are an excellent dietary source of iron, a mineral that plays a crucial role in the body. Iron is vital for the production of hemoglobin, a protein responsible for carrying oxygen to all parts of the body. Examples:


2.76 mg of Iron per cup of cooked quinoa.

a spoonful quinoa-salad-with-chickpeas

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain, and is not only a great source of iron but also contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. 


2.1 mg of Iron per cup of cooked oats

4 glasses of protein overnight oats

A popular breakfast staple is another whole grain rich in iron. 

Brown rice

0.82 mg of Iron per cup of cooked

a bowl of vegan chilli with corn chips

It’s a variant of white rice and contains a higher concentration of nutrients, including iron. 

Benefits of Iron-Rich Vegetables

Iron-rich vegetables offer a range of benefits, including the prevention of iron deficiency anemia, boosted energy levels, improved cognitive function, and enhanced immune system.

✅ Prevention of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia is a common condition that occurs when your body lacks enough iron to produce adequate red blood cells.

Incorporating iron-rich veggies into your diet can prevent this condition and promote optimal health.

✅ Boosted energy levels

When you include iron-rich vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and broccoli in your diet, you provide your body with the necessary nutrients to support healthy red blood cell production and prevent iron deficiency.

By maintaining optimal iron levels through these plant-based sources, you can experience increased vitality and improved stamina for your daily activities.

So make sure to incorporate these iron-packed veggies into your meals and fuel yourself with natural energy from the earth’s bounty.

✅ Improved cognitive function

Iron plays a crucial role in the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential for optimal brain function.

When our bodies have adequate iron levels, our cognitive abilities thrive, promoting better memory, attention span, and overall mental performance.

Leafy greens like spinach and kale pack a powerful punch when it comes to iron content, making them excellent choices for boosting brain health.

✅ Enhanced immune system

Iron is crucial for the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and keeping you healthy.

Add these vegetables to your meals regularly, you can boost your body’s ability to defend itself against pathogens and enjoy better overall health.

(Source: Medical News Today)

Cooking Tips to Maximize Iron Absorption

In order to maximize the absorption of non-heme iron, it’s better to pair these vegetables with vitamin C-rich foods. Avoid overcooking the vegetables to retain their iron content. 

👩‍🍳 Pair with vitamin C-rich foods

To maximize the absorption of iron from vegetables, it’s important to pair them with foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body absorb non-heme iron found in plant-based sources.

So, when enjoying your iron-packed leafy greens like spinach or kale, consider adding some citrus fruits, tomatoes, or bell peppers to your meal.

👩‍🍳 Avoid overcooking

To make sure you get the maximum iron benefits from your vegetables, it’s important to avoid overcooking them.

Overcooking can lead to a significant loss of iron in the vegetables. Instead, opt for methods such as steaming or sautéing to preserve their nutritional value.

To Sum Up

Incorporating vegetables high in iron into your diet is an excellent way to boost your iron intake and maintain optimal health.

By including certain vegetables in your meals and snacks, you can prevent iron deficiencyincrease energy levelsimprove cognitive function, and strengthen your immune system.

So why wait? Start enjoying the benefits of these delicious and nutritious vegetables today!

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1. Which vegetables are high in iron?

Some vegetables that are high in iron include spinach, kale, and broccoli.

2. How can I incorporate iron-rich vegetables into my diet?

You can incorporate iron-rich vegetables into your diet by adding them to salads, stir-fries, soups, or smoothies. You can also steam or roast them as a side dish.

3. Why is it important to consume vegetables high in iron?

Consuming vegetables high in iron is important because iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout the body and plays a vital role in energy production and immune function.

4. Are there any cooking techniques that help retain the iron of these vegetables?

To retain the maximum amount of iron from these vegetables during cooking, it’s best to cook them using methods such as steaming or sautéing instead of boiling them excessively.

Additionally, pairing them with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits or bell peppers can enhance the absorption of non-heme (plant-based) iron.

iron rich foods vegetables

Top 6 Iron Rich Vegetables

Check out this list of the top 6 iron rich vegetables to add to your diet! These nutrient dense foods will help improve your energy levels and overall health.
5 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Author: SHU-CHUN


  • In order to maximise the absorption of non-heme iron, it’s better to pair these vegetables with vitamin C-rich foods. Avoid overcooking the vegetables to retain their iron content.