Foods High in Iron
- Iron is an essential mineral for the body’s metabolism and health. Without it, your blood could not deliver oxygen from the lungs to muscles and tissues. When levels are too low (anemia), your physical performance and immune system suffer. The World Health Organization reports iron deficiency as the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. However, don’t take an iron supplement unless your physician recommends one as too much is toxic. Generally, you can get all the iron you need from a regular multivitamin and a balanced diet that includes some of these iron-rich foods.
- The most readily absorbed source of dietary iron is found in beef and organ meats. One 3-ounce serving of ground beef, the size of a deck of playing cards, contains 2.05 mg of iron.
- Another source of well-absorbed or “heme” iron, chicken contains 1.13 mg of iron in a 3-ounce serving. Remove the skin, and avoid fried chicken to cut down on the fat content.
- Seafood, including clams and shrimp, can boost the iron in your diet. It is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to eat up to two fish or seafood meals a week (12 ounces total) and to stick to smaller fish such as salmon, pollock or tuna to minimize mercury concerns and maximize healthy omega-3 benefits.
- A significant source of iron in most people’s diet, fortified breakfast cereals sometimes contain 100 percent of your daily iron requirement. Read the nutrition facts label to discover how much iron your cereal contains.
- Beans deliver an important vegetarian source of “non-heme” iron. Even though this is not as readily absorbed as the heme iron found in animal products, you can combine beans with vitamin C foods such as tomatoes or citrus to increase non-heme iron’s absorption.
- Spinach and other leafy greens contain non-heme iron. One cup of cooked spinach contains 6.43 mg of iron. Toss citrus fruit, tomato or bell pepper in a fresh spinach salad for added vitamin C.