We all need iron to stay healthy. Iron is an essential mineral which helps carry oxygen around the body and contributes to energy yielding metabolism.
We need to eat foods containing iron regularly, as it’s not easily absorbed by the body.
The NHS recommends:1
- 7mg iron a day for men over 18
- 8mg iron a day for women aged 19 to 50
- 7mg iron a day for women over 50
You should be able to get your recommended daily amount of iron through a normal, balanced diet.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, be sure to include plenty of iron in your diet as iron from plant sources is less easily absorbed than meat sources.
Getting too little iron can lead to iron deficiency anemia which can make you feel weak and tired.
Eggs, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, brown rice, baked beans, lentils, spinach, broccoli, tofu and dried fruit are all great sources of iron to include in your diet every day.
Don’t drink a cup of tea with an iron-rich meal, as tea has been shown to hinder iron absorption. Have a glass of water instead – and save your tea breaks for between meals.
Spinach and chickpea dahl
The vitamin C from the lemon juice and tomatoes helps your body absorb the iron from the chickpeas in this delicious dinner dish.
Superfood spinach is rich in both iron and vitamin C, meaning that this recipe is a high-quality source of absorbable iron.
- 2 cans of chickpeas (480g drained weight)
- 3 tbsp balti curry paste
- 1 large diced onion
- 200g leaf spinach (frozen is fine if you don’t have fresh)
- ½ tsp cumin
- 3tbsp fresh coriander
- 20ml lemon juice
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
Heat the onion and curry paste in a pan with a small amount of vegetable oil. Cook for about 6 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
Once the onion is soft add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep a few coriander leaves back to use as garnish.
Simmer for 5 minutes. Then, add the tin of chickpeas and spinach and stir until spinach has wilted, garnish with coriander and serve.
Sweet chili broccoli and bean stir fry
Broccoli, edamame beans and sesame seeds are some of the best vegetarian sources of iron around. Get them all in one meal with this healthy takeaway-inspired dinner.
- 1 stalk of broccoli (400g)
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 150g edamame beans
- 50ml soy sauce/tamari
- 3tbsp sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 diced large onion
- 1tbsp fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- 100ml sweet chilli sauce
- 300g rice noodles
Sauté the onion in the sesame oil for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a further 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce, stirring gently to form a glossy mixture.
Add the broccoli and edamame beans and cook for around 5 minutes. The broccoli should be sufficiently soft but not in any way mushy. Stir in the rice noodles
Cook until the broccoli is sufficiently soft but not overcooked and then stir in rice noodles and coat in the sauce. Cook for 3 minutes.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Last updated: 20 July 2021