Protein & Iron Base Foods for Vegetarians

by Michelle Powell-Smith

Dry beans are an excellent vegetarian protein source.

beans image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com

Many vegetarians may have initial concerns about obtaining adequate protein and iron from their diet. Fortunately, it is actually quite easy to get adequate protein and iron from vegetable food sources, whether you opt to include eggs and dairy products or avoid them. Beans, nuts, whole grains and many vegetables provide essential protein and iron, but you do need to be conscientious to eat a varied diet.

Beans and Nuts

Beans and nuts are an ideal source of protein and iron in the vegetarian or vegan diet. Depending upon the bean, a 1-cup serving can have 3mg to 8mg of iron, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. Beans provide 12g to 18g of protein per 1-cup serving. Nuts and nut butters offer ample amounts of protein and iron, and are a convenient snack option or an addition to meals.

Beans and nuts, like most other vegetarian protein sources, are not a complete protein and should be combined with whole grains, recommends The Veggie Table. You do not need to combine these foods at the same meal, but over the course of a day.

Whole Grains

Whole grains, including whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur wheat and amaranth, provide both protein and iron in the vegetarian or vegan diet. One cup of cooked brown rice provides 5g of protein, while a cup of cooked quinoa adds 9g of protein to your diet. Quinoa, whole wheat bread or bagels, and other grains are also a fair to good source of iron.

Fruits and Vegetables

While fruits and vegetables are not a rich source of protein, they are an ideal source for iron. All dark green vegetables include ample amounts of iron, with absorption aided by a high vitamin C count. You can also add iron to your diet by including dried fruits, such as figs and apricots, recommends the Vegetarian Society.

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About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.