Unexpected iron sources

Getting enough iron gives you the energy needed to tackle tough workouts and have a more productive day. Too little, on the other hand, could leave you feeling sluggish. Your body uses the mineral to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that’s responsible for shuttling oxygen throughout the body.

Men should aim for eight milligrams (mg) of iron a day, while women need 18 mg. While it’s found in abundance in animal protein, there are plant-based sources, too. To meet your mark, consider the following four vegan options. Pair them with a source of vitamin C, such as bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli, to increase their absorption, says Ryan Andrews, R.D., author of A Guide to Plant-Based Eating.

1. Sunflower Seeds:

A half-cup delivers 15 and eight percent of the daily quota for men and women, respectively. Snack on them out of hand, or use them to add crunch to salads, soups, or toasts. You can also bake them with spices, such as cayenne pepper.

2. Bulgur: 

This whole grain contains magnesium, manganese, and nearly two mg of iron per cup. You can swap bulgur for your usual rice. Or make this tasty melon and feta bulgur salad. You don’t even need to fire up the stove to cook bulgur. Simply soak it overnight.

3. Microgreens: 

Leafy greens like spinach contain iron. That’s true for microgreens, which are harvested from the sprouts. Look for a chive relative called long winter bunching onion, which is high in iron, along with calcium and vitamins A and C. Try it atop soups for a bright, fresh taste.

4. Spirulina: 

With two mg of iron per tablespoon, blue-green algae is an excellent addition to smoothies. It also adds protein, says Julia Gartland, a New York City-based recipe developer. Try it in this blueberry-cashew concoction.