4–5: Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds serve as two more iron-rich plant sources.
Those who wish to increase their total daily iron intake should add the following varieties to their diet, as they contain the highest amounts.
4. Pumpkin, Sesame, Hemp and Flaxseeds
Pumpkin, sesame, hemp and flaxseeds are the seeds richest in iron, containing around 1.2–4.2 mg per two tablespoons, or 7–23% of the RDI.
Products derived from these seeds are also worth considering. For instance, two tablespoons of tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, contain 2.6 mg of iron — which is 14% of the RDI.
Similarly, hummus made from chickpeas and tahini provides you with around 3 mg of iron per half cup, or 17% of the RDI.
Seeds contain good amounts of plant protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds, too.
They’re also a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds, in particular, seem to contain these two fats in the ratio considered optimal for human health.
5. Cashews, Pine Nuts and Other Nuts
Nuts and nut butters contain quite a bit of non-heme iron.
This is especially true for almonds, cashews, pine nuts and macadamia nuts, which contain between 1–1.6 mg of iron per ounce, or around 6–9% of the RDI.
Similarly to seeds, nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, good fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds.
Keep in mind that blanching or roasting nuts may damage their nutrients, so favor raw and unblanched varieties.
As for nut butters, it’s best to choose a 100% natural variety to avoid an unnecessary dose of added oils, sugars and salt.