Iron deficiency is the most common malnutritional condition. Iron deficiency affects up to 20% of women (50% of pregnant women) and about 3% of men. The disparity between the gender rates is that men usually eat more meat than women and the biology of menstruation.
The lack of iron can lead to a condition known as anemia. People with anemia do not produce enough hemoglobin, which is the molecule that binds oxygen so it can be carried to cells by the red blood cells. When suffering from anemia the results are often fatigue, decreased aerobic capacity, and irritability. Long term, anemia can cause heart disease or failure, and can lead to fatigue so severe you cannot complete your daily tasks.
The easiest way to remedy an iron deficiency is to eat more foods high in iron including meats and seafood like oysters. For vegans and as alternatives to meats, the vegetables listed high are all high in iron.
1.Chickpeas -- With about 5mg per cup, chickpeas are a good source of iron and can be added to salads and pasta dishes. Hummus is a spread that is made from chickpeas and is an excellent source of iron.
2. Pumpkin seed -- This favorite fall snack has 2mg of iron per cup. Mixed with granola, nuts and raisins, pumpkin seeds make a tasty trail mix. The seeds are also a good topping for salads, and can be mixed into bread and muffins.
3. Soybeans -- Aside from being high in protein, soybeans have 4mg of iron per 1/2 cup. Try soybeans sprinkled with sea salt for a healthy meal providing a lot of other important nutrients. Soybeans can also be used in edamame dips and stir-fry recipes.
4. Beans -- Between 3-7mg of iron per cup (depending on the variety) can be obtained from beans. Try homemade baked beans, use them in chilis and stews or just as a side dish. Beans can help increase your iron intake as well as provide protein and vital vitamins.
5. Lentils -- Lentil soup can add up to 6 mg of iron per cup to your diet. Lentils can also be used in chilis, salads or mixed into burgers.
6. Spinach -- Whether cooked or raw spinach provides up to 6 mg per cup. Fresh raw spinach makes a delicious base for a salad. Add sauteed spinach to vegetable lasagna or frittatas.
7. Sesame Seeds -- Not just for hamburger bun toppings, sesame seed are packed with 20mg per cup. Sprinkle them in salads, add them to a trail mix, or bake them in bread. Sesame seed has a nutty flavor and in addition to iron are high in copper, phosphorus, vitamin E, and zinc.
8. Kale -- While kale provides only about 1mg of iron per cup, it has more iron per calorie than beef. Plus, kale provides other healthy benefits such as its cholesterol-lowering ability and has antioxidant properties that may reduce cancer risks. Kale can be juiced, mixed in with pasta and used as a base for soups.
9. Berries -- Though technically fruits, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries are rich in iron as well as other nutrients. Tasting good eaten on their own, berries can be used in juices and smoothies, baked into pies, crisps, muffins, and cakes. While the amount of iron varies with the type of berry, most provide around 1mg per cup in addition to anti-oxidants and vitamin C.
10. Tomatoes -- Whether tossed in a salad, added into a pasta dish as a paste or as a base for a soup, tomatoes provide a little less than 1mg of iron per cup. While on the lower end of the scale, the popularity and versatility of the tomato makes up for a lower iron contribution in quantity.