Beef is known for being an iron-rich food, but it is not the only high-quality source of the mineral you can add to your diet. Especially if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are plenty of alternative foods to ensure you get your daily iron fix.
We look at why iron is such an essential mineral for good health and showcase eight foods that contain more iron than beef.
WHY YOU NEED IRON
From transporting oxygen to our blood and supporting the immune system to maintaining normal cognitive function, iron is a key nutrient for your health and wellbeing. According to the NHS, men over 18 and women over 50 require 8.7mg per day, while women under 50 need 14.8mg.
While, for some people, an iron tablet supplement can also be beneficial, iron can be sourced through a healthy, balanced diet. So, if beef is off your menu, here are eight iron-rich alternatives:
DARK, LEAFY GREENS
Iron-rich spinach was made famous by the cartoon character Popeye. But there are also other dark leafy greens that also pack an iron-rich punch. Giving spinach a run for its money are swiss chard and kale, which also has high amounts of vitamin C.
Legumes are good for your heart, and many are also iron rich too, particularly white beans and red kidney beans. The bonus with beans is that they are also fibre-rich and a good source of protein, so an ideal staple if you are following a plant-based diet.
FISH AND SEAFOOD
As well as a good source of protein, fish such as tuna, sardines, and mackerel, are packed with iron as well as other vitamins and minerals, including omega 3 fatty acids. And they are relatively low fat too.
Balancing iron with protein, lentils are a store cupboard staple which are also rich in antioxidants and fibre as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals. These versatile legumes can be used in a wide range of delicious dishes.
An excellent alternative to meat-based protein, tofu is a soybean product that is an excellent source of iron, so an excellent switch for more traditional meat-based dishes.
Oats not only make a delicious breakfast that helps you to feel fuller for longer. Packed with fibre, you could also opt for a fortified oat cereal which can top up your daily iron quota even further.
Delicious cold in a salad or as the protein source in a fragrant vegetarian curry, chickpeas are another nutritional powerhouse you most likely have in your food cupboard. They are fibre-rich too, and can even be roasted to make a super-tasty snack.
You can even satisfy a sweet tooth while getting a good dose of iron as dark chocolate is also rich in the mineral. That dark chocolate brownie has never looked so inviting!