There are two different types of iron we can obtain from food - non haem and haem. Haem iron is absorbed more efficiently by our bodies than non-haem iron and the iron found in plant foods is non-haem iron, which is why iron requirements for vegans are much greater than non-vegans (1.8x as much in fact). Ref: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron
However, there are some simple ways we can help to improve the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. These include:
- Eating a wide variety of iron rich foods every single day including chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, edamame, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
- Pairing your iron rich meals with Vitamin C rich raw foods (e.g. capsicum, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli or citrus fruits) as vitamin C can increase the absorption of non-haem iron.
- Avoiding drinking coffee, tea and wine with meals as the polyphenols in these drinks can reduce iron absorption
- Avoiding the consumption of high dose calcium supplements with iron rich meals
Reference for above: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/4/iron-and-vegetarian-diets#0_i1141571
This tip was provided by Courtney Myers, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, and the owner of Nourished By Plants, a dietetic private practice based on the Gold Coast.
Courtney has a passion for supporting her clients to maintain a plant-based or vegan diet that is nutritious, delicious and stainable.
She offers both in-clinic and online consultations so she can help you wherever you are located.
To find out more information, or book in for a consultation, please follow the links below.