We were born and raised with many different prejudices and beliefs, that we incorporated from our surroundings. It was mainly by our parents, relatives, friends, etc. But a significant part was coming from some old and questionable medical findings and of course – the media. One of them is the Red Meat Myth.
The same is with other foods. Milk was always promoted as healthy, good for children’s development, useful for the bones, and full of important vitamins needed for our body, but in recent years, we can see how new studies and practices are destroying that theory. People nowadays are showing lactose intolerance and different allergic skin reactions when consuming milk. Even acne was related to higher consumption of dairy products, which we explained in our previous blog post.
The same is happening with other minerals and vitamins, especially when it comes to Iron, Vitamin B12, and protein in the vegan diet. In this article, we will focus on Iron in plant-based food.
What is Iron and why do we need it?
Iron is a mineral that transports oxygen through your body and helps form red blood cells that support your metabolism.
Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
Parents were telling us since childhood that meat is full of iron. especially beef and horse meat. And if we consume enough meat, we will satisfy our daily needs for Iron. But that is not completely true.
Vegans consume the right amount of iron daily because their diet is diverse and high in Iron and Vitamin C, which improves the absorption of Iron. There is a widespread misconception that a vegan diet is lacking iron, more than the general population. People who rely only on eating meat, without a diverse diet will lack a lot of vitamins needed for normal body function.
Red Meat Myth will lead you to taking other unhealthy things that meat contains
By the intake of red meat to get iron, you will get all other side effects too. It might increase the risk of chronic diseases, including even some types of cancer. It also raises the level of cholesterol in your body. Proceeded red meats can even cause inflammation and colorectal cancer.
That is why turning to plant-based options is healthier for your body. Tear yourself off from the Red Meat Myth that that’s the only way to get proper amounts of iron in your body. You can find Iron in a variety of vegan foods, and that way it is more likely you will mix different foods containing iron. This will lead you to just the right amounts of Iron intake. Most people who eat meat suffer from iron deficiency because they don’t have a rich diet.
Plant-based foods that are rich in Iron
People often tend to take supplements for vitamin deficiencies, but it is much better to absorb vitamins from natural sources. The same goes for Iron. Vegans have a really wide range of foods that are rich in Iron, and most of them you probably already consume on daily basis.
There are a lot of plant-based foods that are rich in Iron, but we created a list of ten different foods, that are easy, and affordable and that you probably already have in your kitchen:
- Lentils – All kinds of lentils are good for health and rich in iron, whether they are green, red, or brown. Lentils are also rich in protein, magnesium, Vitamin B, and zinc.
- Tofu – A popular food among vegans because its adjustable nature gives a variety of cooking options. Beside Iron, tofu contains protein and calcium.
- Cereals – Oats are also a great source of iron and fiber for vegans and vegetarians. Also, fortified cereals, are suitable for vegans and might contain other vitamins, such as B12 and Vitamin D. Check out the label next time you buy it.
- Dark Chocolate – Cocoa is also a great antioxidant that is good for the heart and overall immunity.
- Spinach – One cup of spinach provides about 6mg of iron. Spinach is full of fiber and minerals, which makes it a very important part of the healthy vegan diet. It is low in calories, so it will keep you in shape.
- Hemp Seeds – Besides that hemp seeds are rich in iron, they are also a great plant-based source of omega-3 fats, which are vital for heart and brain function.
- Legumes – beans, peas, and lentils are great sources of iron, but also great in calcium and protein. Soybeans and Kidney beans have higher levels of iron, as well as other soy products.
- Nuts and Seeds – Richest seeds in iron are pumpkins, sesame, and hemp seeds. But besides being a good source of iron, seeds also contain a good amount of fiber, calcium, zinc, selenium, and protein.
- Mushrooms – Not all mushrooms have the same amount of Iron, for instance, white and oyster mushrooms contain most iron. Mushrooms are also sometimes called “forest meat”, as besides the iron they contain high levels of protein, which is important for the vegan diet.
- White Rice – Just one portion of rice has about 6 mg of iron. If it is served with another food that we previously mentioned, such as beans, peas, or lentils, you might fulfill your daily intake of iron in just one portion.
How to efficiently increase the absorption of iron?
According to Medical News Today, a person can increase the amount of iron by combining vegan iron-rich foods with foods that are rich in vitamin C. Plant-based food that is a great source of vitamin C include:
- Lemon and citrus fruits
- Bell Peppers
- Leafy green vegetables
- Sweet Potatoes
- Tomatoes, etc.
On the other side, some foods and beverages can reduce iron absorption if they are consumed 2 hours before the meals, such as caffeine and tannins in coffee and tea, dairy, eggs, and red wine.
So how much Iron do we need?
According to The National Institute of Health, the daily intake of Iron depends on gender and age.
It is recommended for women to take about 18mg of iron per day, while men should take about 8mg of iron per day. Pregnant women will require more iron intake – up to 27 mg per day, while women older than 50 can reduce their daily iron intake to 8mg per day.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Symptoms of iron deficiency may include:
- Poor blood circulation
- Loss of Appetite
- Lack of energy
In case you have any of that, or you might be suspicious, you should visit your doctor and do a blood test to check your levels of Iron.
As seen, new studies and research revealed that red meat is not giving us more benefits than plants. We need to break the Red Meat myth and “tear off” from beliefs that were instilled in our minds since childhood. It is important to use critical thinking for all things that have been imposed and to turn ourselves to new cleaner options for diet, such as a vegan diet.