Iron and a Raw Food, Vegan Diet

by Susan on December 21, 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse a good source of iron. Recipe here: Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse

I have been amazed at how many people I know are being diagnosed as having low iron. A sign of the times? What amazes me even more is it seems that the standard recommendation for people with low iron is to eat red meat. Somehow, we have been conditioned to believe that it seems to make sense. But does it really? And what happens if you are on a raw food diet, or are a vegan or vegetarian? Where do you get your iron? Are animal products really the best way?

A search for the top ten iron containing foods resulted in some very interesting facts. At the top of the list was dried herbs, followed by our friend, cacao which is very high in iron, fiber, and anti-oxidants. Pumpkin and squash seeds, sesame seeds (tahini) and sun dried tomatoes also have significant amounts. And don’t forget about your dried apricots and sunflower seeds!

Consider this: 1 serving (3 oz) of beef liver  contains 36% of the RDA for iron, while  only 1 tablespoon of dried thyme contains 21%.

It is important to point out that there are two types of iron, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the iron that is present in animal products and is digested more easily than non-heme iron, the type found in plants. But simply adding food containing vitamin C along with your non-heme iron foods increases digestibility. It is also important to note that non-heme iron is better regulated by the body and protects against the possible toxic effects of too much iron.

It is quite easy to get high quality iron from your plant food. We just need to do our research and develop a new mindset. Tomorrow I will post a wonderful Christmas fudge recipe loaded with iron!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne December 22, 2010 at 3:30 am

Thanks for your research! This is a recurring problem for me, I’ll definitely look into it :-)


ivy December 22, 2010 at 5:11 am

Hello ! Very intereseting, thank you. I had always been very low in iron too. Then i stopped meat and i worried about my iron. Yet what’s really amazing is that now that i don’t eat meat any longer, i’ve never been so high in iron !!!! I guess the sprouts help a lot :-)


Serenity December 22, 2010 at 7:41 am

Indeed. Food combining is a very important part of maintaining your levels. After my cycle each lunar month, I juice beets and mix it in OJ to get me back on track. And there are other signs and symptoms of impending iron defieciencies if you would just get to know your body.



Nikita December 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

THis is what I needed to hear. Just last week I got my blood tested and have been told I have low iron (19) 117 is my Hemoglobin so I’m not anemic but my doctor said I should take a supplement. I don’t want to take a supplement because I have heard of such bad side affects in people taking them. Do you think that I could get these levels back up with food? Thank you.


Susan December 22, 2010 at 9:51 am

I would suggest having that discussion with your doctor. Let him/her know you would like to try that and see what they think.


bitt December 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Iron and chocolate: perfect combo! I always crave it during that time so I indulge!


Fran December 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Looking forward to Christmas fudge recipe. Thank you.


Randahl December 22, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Mm hazelnuts and chocolate might as well have been made to go with one another! Excellent recipe :9

For anyone interested in learning more about iron as it pertains to health and foods high in iron, World’s Healthiest Foods gives a pretty good rundown:

I found it interesting that of the 20 foods they list as being excellent, very good, or good sources, a full 18 of them are vegetal in origin (and most of those are raw!)

One thing I like in particular, though, while very NOT raw, but IS vegan, is Blackstrap Molasses. Its pretty low in sugar, and very high in several minerals, including iron (2 tsp gives you 13% DV iron and 12% DV calcium) Its rather bitter on its own, but excellent mixed with warmed almond milk. I find it to be very energizing :)


Helen December 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I love cacao but it doesn’t love me…I develop a rash, headaches, and body aches. I also get dizzy, feel drugged, and believe me I have tried it more than once. Be careful –


Susan December 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

I love cacao. But I eat it in moderation. It is like everything food related. Some people can’t eat avocados, some can’t eat nuts, some can’t have gluten. Cacao is just raw chocolate. Everyone needs to figure out what works for them.


Tahini July 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm

whoa, thank you very much for posting this! It is going to aid me when I buy Sesame Tahini at the market! Very Beautiful!


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