When was the last time you thought about your iron levels? Probably not today – or yesterday, (or the day before that, for that matter). Go ahead and take this as your cue to start thinking about it for you and your family – one-quarter of the world’s population are anemic. That is, they’re not getting enough iron to carry out important bodily functions, like producing red blood cells. Babies need this mineral for both brain development and growth. Children and adults need it too, as it removes carbon dioxide from the body. Here are some quick and easy non-meat food sources to get your family’s iron levels up:
Lentils: Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, lentils provide a hefty amount (7mg) of your daily intake of iron with every cup you consume. For little ones, disguise their taste by adding them into tomato sauce (vegetarian Bolognese sauce) or “meat”balls. Otherwise, these legumes are delicious as part of cold or even warm salads.
Spinach: Lean, mean green machine – this leafy vegetable not only contains iron but it is also high in Vitamin C, which makes the absorption of iron that much easier for the body. Try whipping up a batch of our Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip either for yourself or for your toddler! We recommend calling it Green Monster Dip to lessen the chances that your little one grimaces at the sight of a food that’s green.
Eggs: Though not the highest source of iron, eggs still do provide approximately 1mg of iron each. Crank up the iron levels by making our Frittata Bites, which also contain iron-rich spinach.
Dark Chocolate: Go ahead and treat yo’self! We’re giving you permission to not only think of dark chocolate as candy, but to think of it as a part of a healthy diet 😉 The next time you or your child “accidentally” eats a bar of dark chocolate, rest assured that you’ve gotten approximately 67% of your daily intake of iron.
Chickpeas: More peas, please! Add them to salads, roast them for a quick, crunchy snack or blend (even with beets!) to make hummus. For a baby-friendly puree that has a healthy dose of iron and other minerals and vitamins, blend chickpeas with steamed sweet potatoes and apples.
If none of the above foods have you thinking about your next meal, there are many other foods you can eat to increase your iron levels. Other sources include soybeans, pumpkin seeds, oysters, and fortified foods (like cereal).