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Behold the Power of the Plant-Based Diet

4 min read

hand holding brocolli

Eating a plant-based diet has never been easier or more delicious. It’s also a wonderfully sustainable way to maintain our health. But when you deal with iron-deficiency anemia, vegetarian diets pose an added challenge. How do you create a delicious vegetarian diet that still helps alleviate your anemia symptoms?

Creating an iron-rich, vegetarian diet for anemia just takes a few simple steps. In fact, by using a few tricks, you’ll be able to add a little extra power to every snack and meal.

Here are our tricks for turning any veggie meal into a powerful anemia-fighting feast!

Go Green 

Leafy green vegetables are packed with iron. Spinach, kale and broccoli are especially great superfoods that you can add to any meal:

  • Add baby spinach to a morning smoothie.
  • Add broccoli to a pasta salad for lunch.
  • Puree all the greens and add them to your favorite sauces and soups.

Remember: Not all leafy greens are created equal. Lettuce is great for adding a little extra crunch to your sandwich or as a side, but it lacks vital nutrients, including iron, calcium and Vitamin C. With so many other great green options, it’s better to let the lettuce go.

Go Nuts

Nuts are a great source of healthy fat, protein and iron.  A handful of cashews or almonds is great for staving off hunger while at the same time giving you vital nutrients. If your favorite mix gets a little boring, here are some simple ways to make your meals a little nuttier:

  • Spread on the nut-love with almond, cashew or pumpkin seed butter.
  • Make your favorite pesto with cashews or almonds instead of traditional pine nuts.
  • Add chopped nuts or pumpkin seeds to your favorite salads and stir fries.

For many vegetarians, peanuts are a cheap and accessible protein option, but keep in mind that peanuts are not nuts but rather legumes. Although they’re equivalent in fat content to nuts, they do not have the same levels of calcium and iron.  When opting for a nut butter, alternative sources like cashew, almond or pumpkin will serve your body better in the long run. 

Love Lentils

Lentils and chickpeas are great sources of protein and iron. Long-time vegetarians know that lentils are simple to cook, inexpensive and incredibly versatile. Incorporating lentils into your meals is pretty easy, but here are some ways to make them tasty and fun to eat:

  • Season and roast a can of chickpeas, turning them into a healthy, crunchy midday snack
  • Use red lentils to create a dal, which can be eaten as a meal, a snack or incorporated into a soup.
  • Use the heartier French or green lentil for salads and stews.

Legumes of this kind are a great source of iron, protein and other essential nutrients.  They are also a healthy dose of carbohydrates, so remember to pair them with more satiating or less caloric foods, like leafy greens or healthy fat sources. This will reduce your chances of carb overload and help you to maintain a balanced diet. 

Follow the Grain 

Opting for whole grains or iron-rich cereals is a great way to infuse your diet with essential,  slow-burning sugars while also getting extra iron. When you’re shopping in the bread or cereal aisle, remember the following guidelines:

  • Don’t just read the big label; look at the fine print to get the nutritional guidelines.
  • Make sure that the majority of carbohydrate in the item is not simple sugar.
  • Look for iron-fortified bread and cereals.

Iron-fortified bread and cereals contain the recommended daily intake of iron for everyone. For people with anemia, this is a good way to boost your iron but should also be taken in conjunction with other iron-rich foods or supplements. Always remember to consult your healthcare provider when incorporating fortified foods and supplements into your diet.

Embrace the Darkness

The darkness of chocolate, that is! Did you know that 100 grams of dark chocolate contains 67% of the recommended daily intake of iron? Yes, it’s true.  And yes, you’re welcome!  As a snack, dessert or added to a favorite meal, dark chocolate is a delicious way to power up your plant-based diet. Here are some creative ways to use it:

  • Combine nuts and chocolate to make a delicious iron-rich bark.
  • If you want to get savory, consider trying a mole sauce with your next Mexican meal.
  • If you like things sweet and bitter, use some chocolate as a stir stick for your coffee

Like all good things, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation. To maximize its benefits and to minimize your sugar intake, make sure to eat dark chocolate that’s 70% to 85% cocoa. 

The Power of Plant Food

Incorporating these simple tricks into your vegetarian diet will help boost your iron levels while adding a little extra flavor to every meal. Combined with exercise and the right blood builder supplements, an iron-rich, plant-based diet should make you feel healthy and strong. It’s time to embrace the power of plant food!