With 7 mg of iron, this tropical mango iron rich smoothie is the best way to increase your iron intake on a plant-based diet. I also discuss the importance of iron, who is at risk for deficiency, and my other favourite high iron recipes!
Are you getting enough iron in your diet? For females and people who menstruate, iron is one of the most common deficiencies. It can also be tricky to get enough iron on a plant-based diet, which is why I'm bringing you this tropical mango iron rich smoothie.
I'm obsessed with this iron rich smoothie because it's PERFECT for summer. After a day of blazing heat in Toronto, there's nothing I want more than a refreshing smoothie with tropical, fresh fruits like mango and orange. I love smoothies during summer because they pack a nutritious punch, while also delivering essential hydration. It's a 2 in 1!
Before we dive into the recipe, let's talk a bit more about iron and why it's important.
What is iron?
Iron is a mineral found in every cell in our body. It has SO many functions:
- Carrying oxygen to our muscles
- Making new blood cells, hormones, amino acids and neurotransmitters
- Functions in energy metabolism (how we use energy!)
Iron requirements are heavily dependent on biological sex and stage of life. Since my audience are mainly younger adults, I'll focus on that.
Men require 8 mg of iron daily, while women require 18 mg. In addition, those on plant-based diets are recommend to aim for 1.8x more iron than the baseline. For plant-based men, this would be 14 mg, and for women, 32 mg. I'll discuss why this is later on.
Since our body is constantly using iron, our iron stores can get depleted if we don't consume enough. There are difference stages of deficiency, but the severest level that is typically diagnosed is known as iron-deficiency anemia. Anemia occurs when our body is so low in iron that we have low blood hemoglobin, meaning our red blood cells aren't able to carry as much oxygen. This is why some of the symptoms of anemia include weakness, paleness, headaches, lower immunity and fatigue.
Who is at risk for iron deficiency?
There are several groups of people who are at a higher risk of iron deficiency:
- Women and people who menstruate: When you get your period, there is a significant loss of blood and iron. This is why women have higher iron requirements compared to men.
- Vegans and vegetarians: Plant-based diets are a lot lower in bioavailable iron, making it tricky to get enough that your body can actually absorb.
- Pregnant women: During pregnancy, there are higher iron needs to support the increased blood supply and growing baby.
- Young children: Children typically eat diets lower in iron, yet require a lot to support their brain development and rapid growth.
- Adolescents: Like children, adolescents require a lot of iron due to rapid growth during puberty.
Why My Iron Rich Smoothie Works
We talked about why iron is tricky on plant-based diets, so let me explain why this iron rich smoothie works.
First, this smoothie contains iron-rich ingredients like hemp seeds, spinach and chia seeds. However, this plant-based iron is hard for our body to absorb. Luckily, there's something we can do to help.
It all comes down to vitamin C. When it comes to increasing iron on a plant-based diet, the key rule to remember is pairing it with a source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in many fruits in vegetables and has been shown to increase iron absorption. This iron rich smoothie is packed with vitamin C, thanks to the mango and oranges.
Lastly, I made sure to avoid using dairy in this smoothie. As much as I'm a dairy girl and LOVE a good milkshake, we know that calcium can inhibit iron absorption. This is why we're using water and OJ in the smoothie, instead of milk.
Hopefully now you understand why this iron rich smoothie is a great option for my plant-based friends!
Other Ways to Increase Iron Intake
For anyone who isn't on a plant-based diet, meat, fish, poultry and eggs are also amazing sources of iron. Here are some iron rich recipes to try:
And for my plant-based friends, focus on iron rich foods like whole grains, fortified products, and beans/legumes. Don't forget to pair with vitamin C! Here are some iron rich plant-based recipes to try:
I recommend speaking with a registered dietitian for individualized advice on increasing your iron intake or supplementation. Now, let's move on to the smoothie!
- Orange juice
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Ice cubes
Blend spinach with water and orange juice until smooth.
Once blended, add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy.
Substitutions and Variations
To make gluten-free: This recipe is naturally gluten-free.
To make vegan: This recipe is naturally vegan.
To make nut-free: This recipe is naturally nut-free.
Although this smoothie has some protein from the hemp seeds, feel free to add a scoop of your favourite protein for a more filling option.
If you prefer a sweeter smoothie, I would increase the amount of orange juice and decrease the amount of water in equal amounts. I tried to create this smoothie using as little added sugar as possible, however some individuals may not find it quite sweet enough- so this is a great option!
This iron rich smoothie is best consumed right after making it. You can store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours however it may separate slightly and will need to be blended or stirred.
To freeze, I recommend blending your smoothie and freezing into a silicone ice cube tray. When you are craving a smoothie, pop out the cubes, add some water and blend!
For a thicker smoothie, use more ice and less water. You can also try freezing your orange juice into ice cubes and blending that instead of ice cubes!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes you absolutely can! I created this smoothie as a refreshing summer snack option and thanks to the chia and hemp seed there is some protein in the smoothie already! However if you are looking for a more filling meal or snack I highly recommend adding some protein powder or pairing with a source of protein to keep you full!
I love the plant-based protein from Nuzest. You can try it out with 15% off with my code NOURISHEDBYNIC!
You don't need to! I like adding it as it adds a boost of sweetness and extra tropical flavour to this smoothie (plus we love the extra Vitamin C), however you can easily swap it with water if you prefer!
You can! I personally just love using frozen fruit when I can as it's convenient and adds a nice coldness to smoothies!
More Refreshing Summer Recipes
Here are some other amazing recipes to cool down this summer!
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you decide to make this iron rich smoothie, don't forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram- @nourishedbynic or leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it!
Tropical Mango Iron Rich Smoothie
- 2.5 cups spinach
- 1.5 cups water
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1 medium orange peeled
- 2 tablespoon chia seeds
- ⅓ cup hemp seeds
- 1 inch fresh ginger grated (about ½ tsp)
- ½ cup ice cubes
- Blend spinach with water and orange juice until smooth.
- Once blended, add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy.