Iron is one of the hardest minerals to get on a vegan diet, and it’s a bit more difficult if you only stick to raw food.
Luckily, most of the best vegan sources of iron can be eaten raw.
I’ve compiled nutritional data for over 100 raw foods and we’ll look at the ones highest in iron just below.
Table of Contents
How Much Iron Do You Need Per Day?
In general, men need less iron than women.
The RDA of iron for most adult men is 8 mg, while women need 18 mg or more if pregnant.
Note that if you donate blood or lose blood in other ways, you need even more.
You should also be aware that iron in plants is “non-heme” iron, which doesn’t absorb as well as heme iron (from animal products). Try pairing your iron with vitamin C to improve absorption.
Raw Vegan Foods High in Iron
Note that all data below is for a 100 gram serving of each food. Some are better than others if you’re watching calories.
|Food||Iron (mg) per 100g|
There’s a big drop off after the first few foods at the top.
If your RDA is only 8 mg, it’s pretty easy to get enough if you eat a relatively healthy diet of whole plant-based foods.
However, it can be hard to get 18 mg or more of iron with raw vegan foods. You will likely need to specifically plan for it because eating 200-300 grams of seeds isn’t easy for most people.
The Top 6 Raw Vegan Foods High in Iron
Let’s take a bit of a closer look at some of the foods at the top of the table.
While it’s relatively expensive, dried seaweed is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals, including iron. Eating 10-15 grams a day is a nice little snack that will get most people close to their RDA.
Some dried seaweed is raw, while others are roasted or toasted. If you really want it raw, you will need to pay close attention to the packaging.
Of all the seeds, sesame seeds stand above the rest when it comes to iron.
They have 14.6 mg of iron per 100 gram serving, which makes it worth finding ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Hemp, Chia, and Flax Seeds
I’ve grouped these 3 “super seeds” together because they have very similar nutritional profiles overall. They also have solid omega 3 to 6 fat ratios for seeds, so you don’t need to worry about overeating.
When it comes to iron, they have about 6-8 mg per 100 gram serving, which is a good amount. With that being said, most servings of these seeds are significantly smaller.
So while they are a good topping to add to meals, you likely won’t get more than a portion of your iron from them.
I know most people have a love/hate relationship with olives, but if you do like them, feel free to pack your salads with them.
They have 6.3 mg of iron per 100 gram serving, so eating a handful can make up a solid chunk of your daily target.
Cashews and Pine Nuts
With 6 mg of iron per serving, cashews are the best nut when it comes to iron content.
Pine nuts are not far behind with 5.5 mg of iron per serving, but they are also prohibitively expensive for most people.
Finally, oats are arguably the easiest grain to incorporate on a raw diet, and they also happen to have a decent amount of iron (4.7 mg per 100 grams of raw oats).
Overnight oats are a good choice for a high protein vegan breakfast, which also usually includes some of the seeds higher on this list.
Finally, oats go well with most fruits, which are typically high in vitamin C and will enhance the absorption of iron.