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Iron A Vegan Diet and Food Combinations

Iron A Vegan Diet & Food Combinations

Iron is seen as one of the critical nutrients on the vegan diet as well as on an omnivore diet worldwide. Generally, it is possible to cover iron needs with a plant based diet, if the food intake is optimally combined. It is also important to mention that some have higher iron needs such as pregnant women, breastfeed women, children and teenagers.

What do we need iron for?

Iron is needed for the transportation of oxygen in our blood, as iron makes up the biggest part of haemoglobin. In the muscles iron has the role to store oxygen. It is also important for energy production as well as the creation of transmitters in the body.

When there is a lack of iron in our body, iron reservoirs are activated. If the reservoirs are not enough, the resorption of the iron increases through nutrition.

A lack of iron can lead to a decreased physical capacity and disturb thermoregulation. A chronically low intake of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.

Bioavailability of iron

Iron is available in both, animal and plant products. It depends on the type of iron if it is well or less well absorbed.

In our body we have the bivalent iron, also called heme-iron. Because of our similarity to animals, this type of iron can also be found in animal products.

Plant products on the other hand have trivalent iron, also called non-heme iron. Trivalent iron tends to form complexes whilst the solubility is very low, even at a pH of> 5. Therefore, it is less well absorbed by the body than divalent iron. In addition to that, it can interact with other food components or be influenced both positively and negatively in the absorption process.

The bioavailability of heme-iron is 15-35%, whereas for non-heme iron it is 2-20%.

How To Increase Iron Resorption

Adding Vitamin C, fruit acids, organic acids and sulfur-containing amino acids to meals can increase iron resorption. Especially Vitamin C can increase resorption by 3 to 4 times.

Some compounds such as oxalates, phytates, tannines and other polyphenols can inhibit iron absorption. Phytates in legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains create complexes with minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc, which inhibit resorption. Soaking, fermentation and sprouting can reduce the amount of phytates.

Lack of Iron

As mentioned before, a lack of iron can lead to anaemia. If there is a lack of iron diagnosed, supplements can be taken when consulted with a doctor. It is not recommended to take supplements when no diagnose has been made.

Plant Sources Of Iron

  • Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu
  • Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, sesame (tahini), flax seeds, pistachios, sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains and pseudo cereal: amaranth, quinoa, millet, oats, spelt, brown rice
  • Vegetables: raw fennel, purslane, endive, lamb’s lettuce, cooked salsify, rocket, zucchini
  • Dried fruit: peach, apricot, banana, dates

Generally it is again important to highlight that iron is not only critical for vegans or vegetarians but also for omnivores. Therefore, it is important to smartly combine food.

Some examples:

  • Hummus with bell pepper sticks
  • Orange juice and oatmeal
  • Fermented soy products such as miso or tempeh
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Lentils and tomato sauce
  • Dark chocolate and strawberries
  • Tofu, Broccoli & Tahini

I hope that this article could help you understand the importance of iron for our body and on a vegan diet in general. If there are more questions, feel free to reach out to me at any time.

If you are not sure about how much iron you are getting into your diet, you can always track it using cronomenter.com. I personally really enjoy it, as it really helps me understand what I need to eat in order to hi my targets.

With love,

Jess

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Vegan Nutrition Vegan Tips

Vegan Nutrition Advice And Top 3 Vegan Recipes By Lissette From “stayhealthyforyou”

Vegan Nutrition Advice

You should be able to get most of the nutrients you need from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet.

Lissette’s advice for a healthy vegan diet:

  • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables in every meal, potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates (choose wholegrain where possible)
  • Have some dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts (choose lower fat and lower sugar options) eat some beans, and a lot of water of course.
  • Eat all the variety of legumes, lentils, beans, chickpeas are a great source of protein and carbohydrates, just make sure to combine them with a cereal to complete all the amino acids,  grains and legumes, or nuts and seeds plus legumes, this could be throughout the day, not in every meal.
  • Of course plenty of water.

With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs, especially so you cannot miss out on essential nutrients, such as calcium, iron and vitamin B12.

 

Vegan sources of calcium and vitamin D

Calcium is needed for strong and healthy bones and teeth. Non-vegans get most of their calcium from dairy foods (milk, cheese and yoghurt), but vegans can get it from other foods.

Good sources of calcium for vegans include:

green, leafy vegetables – such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, tofu sesame seeds and tahini, dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots.

The body needs vitamin D to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients help keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Good sources of vitamin D for vegans include:

exposure to sunlight, 15min daily is enough, fortified fat spreads, breakfast cereals and unsweetened soya drinks (with vitamin D added) or vitamin D supplements.

*Read the label to ensure the vitamin D used in a product is not of animal origin.

 

Vegan sources of iron

Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells.

A vegan diet can be high in iron, although iron from plant-based food is absorbed by the body less well than iron from meat.

Good sources of iron for vegans are:

pulses wholemeal bread and flour breakfast cereals fortified with iron dark green, leafy vegetables, such as watercress, broccoli and spring greens nuts dried fruits, such as apricots, prunes and figs, and always try to combine iron rich foods with vitamin c to help the iron absorption.

 

Vegan sources of vitamin B12

The body needs vitamin B12 to maintain healthy blood and a healthy nervous system.

Sources of vitamin B12 for vegans include:

breakfast cereals fortified with B12 unsweetened soya drinks fortified with vitamin B12 yeast extract, such as Marmite, which is fortified with vitamin B12

 

Vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily those found in oily fish, can help maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten as part of a healthy diet.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids suitable for vegans include: 

flaxseed (linseed) oil rapeseed oil soya oil and soya-based foods, such as tofu and walnuts.

Evidence suggests that plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids may not have the same benefits in reducing the risk of heart disease as those in oily fish.

 

Lissette’s Top 3 Vegan Recipes:

1) Vegan falafel salad with a garlic dill dressing 

For the falafel mixture you’ll need:

  • 400g of cooked and dry chickpeas,
  • 15g of chopped parsley or cilantro if you want,
  • 2 medium shallots minced,
  • 15g of raw sesame seeds,
  • 1/2 tsp cumin,
  • 20-30g all purpose flour,
  • salt and pepper for taste.

Method:

Process the chickpeas, parsley, shallot, garlic, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, pepper, You’re looking for a crumbly dough, not a paste, then add the flour 1spoon at a time and mix until you get a mixture that doesn’t stick to your hands, let it rest 30min in the fridge for a ticker texture, or just roll them and cook them for about 5min each side or bake them until golden and that’s it!

For the dressing I just processed 1/4 cup of tahini, 1/2 medium lemon, 1 tsp dried dill and 2 cloves garlic, minced.

 

2) Brown rice and broccoli with teriyaki tofu

A nutritious and easy meal, I made the teriyaki sauce with

  • 1tbsp of Tamari,
  • 1 tsp sesame oil,
  • 1 tsp stevia powder,
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger,
  • salt and pepper to taste,

then just stir fry the tofu until brown and voilà it’s done!, you can combine it with rice and veggies or in a sandwich with tomatoes and greens etc.

 

3) Vegan chickpea burger

I would say this one and the black bean patty are my two favourite vegan burgers.

For the chickpea patty you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of cooked chickpeas then mashed,
  • 1 grated carrot,
  • 1/2 minced onion,
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder,
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients, Form your mixture into patties and lightly pan-fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. And that’s it!

 

I hope this information is useful and you like my recipes, for more check out @stayhealthyforyou, any contact or nutrition consult, send me an email, don’t hesitate to ask me anything! I’m here for that.

Lissette xx