Anemia is a condition that occurs when your blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout your body. Anemia can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, pale skin, dizziness, and headaches. Anemia can have many causes, such as blood loss, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, folate deficiency, chronic diseases, infections, or genetic disorders.
One of the ways to prevent or overcome anemia is to eat a balanced diet that includes foods rich in iron, folate, and vitamin B12. These nutrients are essential for the production and function of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Iron helps your body make hemoglobin, folate and vitamin B12 help your body make new red blood cells, and prevent them from becoming abnormally large or malformed.
Vegetables are a great source of these nutrients, as well as other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that can benefit your overall health. In this article, we will list 10 vegetables that are high in iron, folate, or vitamin B12, and explain how they can help you overcome anemia.
Tenth That Can Help Overcome Anemia
Spinach is one of the most popular leafy green vegetables that are high in iron and folate. One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach provides 6.4 mg of iron (36% of the Daily Value or DV) and 263 mcg of folate (66% of the DV). Spinach also contains vitamin C, which can enhance the absorption of iron from plant sources. Spinach can be eaten raw in salads, cooked in soups or stir-fries, or blended in smoothies.
Broccoli is another cruciferous vegetable that is high in iron and folate. One cup (156 grams) of cooked broccoli provides 1 mg of iron (6% of the DV) and 168 mcg of folate (42% of the DV). Broccoli also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage. Broccoli can be eaten raw with dips, steamed, roasted, or added to casseroles or pasta dishes.
Brussels sprouts are small cabbage-like vegetables that are high in iron and folate. One cup (156 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 1.9 mg of iron (11% of the DV) and 93.8 mcg of folate (24% of the DV). Brussels sprouts also contain vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and glucosinolates, which are compounds that may have anti-cancer effects. Brussels sprouts can be cooked, sautéed, or boiled.
Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable that is high in iron and folate. One cup (130 grams) of cooked kale provides 1.2 mg of iron (7% of the DV) and 17 mcg of folate (4% of the DV). Kale also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants that can lower inflammation and oxidative stress. Kale can be eaten raw in salads or wraps, cooked in soups or stews, or baked into chips.
Beetroot is a root vegetable that is high in iron and folate. One cup (170 grams) of cooked beetroot provides 1.3 mg of iron (7% of the DV) and 148 mcg of folate (37% of the DV). Beetroot also contains nitrates, which can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Beetroot can be eaten raw in salads or juices, cooked in soups or curries, or pickled.
Asparagus is a green spear-shaped vegetable that is high in iron and folate. One cup (180 grams) of cooked asparagus provides 2.9 mg of iron (16% of the DV) and 268 mcg of folate (67% of the DV). Asparagus also contains vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants that can support your immune system and urinary tract health. Asparagus can be drilled, roasted, steamed, or boiled.
Edamame are young soybeans that are high in iron and folate. One cup (155 grams) of cooked edamame provides 3.5 mg of iron (19% of the DV) and 482 mcg of folate (121% of the DV) . Edamame also contains protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and isoflavones, which are plant compounds that may have hormone-balancing and anti-cancer effects . Edamame can be eaten as a snack or appetizer, or added to salads or stir-fries.
Lentils are legumes that are high in iron and folate. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides 6.6 mg of iron (37% of the DV) and 358 mcg of folate (90% of the DV). Lentils also contain protein, fiber, potassium, and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may have anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects. Lentils can be cooked in soups or stews, or made into burgers or patties.
Potatoes are starchy vegetables that are high in iron and folate. One large (369 grams) baked potato with skin provides 3.2 mg of iron (18% of the DV) and 102 mcg of folate (26% of the DV). Potatoes also contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and resistant starch, which is a type of fiber that can feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut and improve your metabolic health. Potatoes can be baked, mashed, roasted, or cooked.
Mushrooms are fungi that are high in iron and folate. One cup (156 grams) of cooked white mushrooms provides 2.7 mg of iron (15% of the DV) and 16.3 mcg of folate (4% of the DV). Mushrooms also contain vitamin D, selenium, copper, and beta-glucans, which are polysaccharides that can modulate your immune system and lower cholesterol levels. Mushrooms can be eaten raw in salads, cooked in soups or sauces, or stuffed with cheese or vegetables.
Anemia is a condition that can affect your energy levels, mood, and overall health. Eating a balanced diet that includes vegetables high in iron, folate, and vitamin B12 can help you prevent or treat anemia. Some of the best vegetables for anemia are spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, beetroot, asparagus, edamame, lentils, potatoes, mushrooms, and fortified cereals.
These vegetables also provide other nutrients and benefits that can support your well-being. Try to include a variety of these vegetables in your daily meals and snacks, and consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your blood health.