Rebuilding your blood after giving birth is very important aspect of a strong postpartum recovery. Eating foods high in iron is one of the best ways to rebuild your blood after birth. The recommended amount of iron for vegetarian nursing mothers is 27 mg/day.
It isn’t necessary to eat heavy meats in order to boost your iron levels. In fact, there are plenty of plant foods high in iron that can rebuild your blood, with the added bonus of being eyeball-free 😳.
Eating a vegetarian postpartum diet is highly recommended in Ayurveda, a tradition which has been perfecting the art of vegetarian postpartum cooking for millennia. In Ayurvedic cooking, food is medicine. Learning the power of different foods, how and when to utilize them, is an art unto itself. An art that I absolutely LOVE!
5 Vegetarian Foods High In Iron That Are Excellent For Postpartum Healing
To achieve a strong postpartum recovery, it isn’t good enough to just eat foods high in iron. In order to access that iron, you need to be able to digest it.
Make sense ya?
Eating heavy meats can easily dampen the fire of your already sensitive digestion. Meat contains heme iron, which is a form that scientists have found is more easily absorbed than the non-heme iron from plant sources.
But what if you can’t digest your food?
After birth, mamas have an extremely sensitive digestion. Digesting heavy foods like meat can be quite difficult. If you aren’t able to digest your food, you will have limited access to the nutrition available. That is why an easily digestible vegetarian diet is recommended.
After birth we need foods that are not only high in iron, but easy to digest, promote healthy tissue growth and are loaded with nutrients. Below are 5 plant-based foods that not only are high in iron, but are easy to digest and will promote a well-rounded, strong postpartum recovery.
1. Dried Apricots
Dried apricots are the fruit with the most iron, with a whopping 8 mg per cup! Peaches, prunes, figs and raisins and dates also contain significant amounts of iron.
Think about how many fresh apricots you can fit in a cup. Not very many right? When you dehydrate them, they loose their water, and their nutrients become very concentrated. You can fit quite a bit more apricots in that cup.
What is the trick to making this work for the postpartum mama, who does NOT need more dryness in her life?
Soak them in water overnight and stew them on the stove top. Best with some digestive spices like ginger and clove, as well as some fruit juice and ghee. Yummy! 😋
Lentils (and beans) are a critical part to a healthy vegetarian diet. They are also contain a substantial amount of iron, 7 mg per cup! The key is unlocking this iron. This can easily be done by soaking them in warm water overnight. Also, adding a squeeze of lemon or lime with help with absorption. For optimal postpartum rejuvenation, make sure they well-cooked until very soft. Add generous amounts of ghee and digestive spices to further aid digestion and absorption.
3. Cooked Spinach
Popeye was onto something by eating so much spinach to gain superhuman strength.
Minus the stagnant canned food vibe – yuck!
Cooked spinach has the highest iron content of all the dark, leafy greens , at a solid 6.4 mg per cup. It cooks down quite a bit, consequently making it easier to eat a solid serving size. It also cooks fast and is easy to digest, which are bonuses during the postpartum window.
Never eat spinach raw postpartum and it is best to wait 7 days after birth before adding to your diet.
4. Sesame Seeds
Sesame is a staple in Ayurvedic postpartum care. Ayurveda recommends using sesame in your diet, as well as sesame oil for mother’s massage & baby massage. Sesame seeds are not only high in iron, but high in calcium as well. In addition, (vegans listen up!) sesame oil is the very best plant-based oil to use during the postpartum window, both internally and externally. Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, has 2.3 mg of iron in just 2 Tbsp.
Sesame can be eaten in a variety of ways to enhance postpartum rejuvenation. Some examples include sesame oil, fresh sesame seed milk, tahini stuffed dates (both good sources of iron), as well as roasted/salted sesame seeds (can be sprinkled over your meal as a garnish).
Quinoa, a nutrient dense seed from South America, is a worthwhile addition to your postpartum vegetarian diet. Not only is it a good source of iron (3 mg/cup), it also is a complete protein, high in fiber (which will help with postpartum constipation), and is anti-inflammatory. Quinoa can be eaten by itself, as a breakfast porridge, as part of a soup, or even as a replacement for rice in kitchari.
Iron deficiencies can be hard to detect because a lot of the symptoms have been synonymous with being a new mom. Fatigue, irritability, and generally feeling low, are all symptoms of iron deficiency and postpartum anemia. Regularly eating foods high in iron will naturally help avoid this.
Mama, You got this!
Adding these 5 foods to your postpartum diet will not only help you rebuild a healthy blood supply, but also nourish and strengthen your tissues for a healthy postpartum recovery. If you feel that you may be suffering from iron deficiency or anemia, please contact your healthcare provider. For an optimal postpartum recovery, make sure that you get plenty of rest, drink plenty of warm fluids and follow a healthy postpartum diet.