Amount of Iron in Seeds: Which is Highest? [Chart]

A

Seeds are one of the best plant sources of iron.

I’ve quickly gone over how much iron is in a variety of common seeds, so you can decide if you need to prioritize any of them in your diet.

Note that all data on this page is per 100 grams of each seed.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

The recommended amount of iron varies considerably by age and gender.

Adult males need at least 8 mg of iron per day, while adult females should aim for at least 18 mg.

It’s pretty difficult to get too much iron unless you’re also using iron supplements.

Seeds High in Iron

The table below uses an RDA of 18 mg for the column on the far right in order to put the amounts into context.

  Iron (mg) Iron (%RDA)
Sesame Seeds 14.6 81
Pumpkin Seeds 8.8 49
Hemp seeds 8.0 44
Chia seeds 7.7 43
Flaxseed 5.7 32
Sunflower Seeds 5.3 29

There’s quite a bit of variation in iron content. Sesame seeds have almost 3 times as much iron as sunflower seeds.

Overall, all seeds have a good amount of iron that can contribute greatly towards the RDA.

Which Seeds Are Highest in Iron?

Sesame seeds are by far the highest in iron of all common seeds. They have 14.6 mg in a 100 gram serving, which is about 80% of the RDA for most adult women.

Pumpkin seeds, hemp seed, and chia seeds all have around 7-9 mg of iron per serving, which is about 40-50% of the RDA.

Which Seeds Are Lowest in Iron?

Flax seeds and sunflower seeds are the lowest in iron of common seeds, with 5.7 mg and 5.3 mg per serving respectively.

This is still a good amount of iron, making up about 30% of the RDA for most adults.

Are Seeds a Good Iron Source Compared to Alternatives?

When you look at the best plant-based sources of iron, seeds are the best overall.

The only other plant sources that come close are certain nuts like cashews and pine nuts, along with grains like oats.

Overall, it’s a good idea to include some seeds in most healthy diets as a source of iron (and other essential nutrients).

Do Seeds Have Heme or Non-Heme Iron?

Like all plant sources of iron, seeds have non-heme iron.

Non-heme iron isn’t as easily absorbed by the body, which is why animal products like meat are arguably better sources of iron.

However, most vegetarians do not struggle with getting enough iron as long as they include iron-rich foods like seeds in their diet. Pairing non-heme iron with vitamin C can also improve absorption.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.