Eat foods high in iron from the given list including those for vegetarians, vegans and meat and fish lovers. Iron in animal foods such as beef, chicken, clams, mussels, oysters, pork, sardines, shrimp and turkey are also listed. Know what foods are low in fat but high in iron. Iron deficiency causes iron deficiency anemia.
A food high, rich in or excellent source of iron means that it contains 20 percent or more of the daily value for iron in a serving. If it is mentioned that the food is iron free, it means that it contains no or negligible iron.
Iron Absorption By Body
Note that eating iron rich foods alone will not ensure adequate iron supply to body because the iron absorption by body depends on the form of the iron. The iron from animal foods, known as heme iron, is absorbed easily by the body. The iron found in vegetable foods, known as non-heme iron, is less available to the body.
The amount of iron absorbed from vegetarian food is around 1 - 10% , while it is 10 - 20% from animal food.
Good Enhancer Foods for Iron Absorption:
Iron from the raw foods is absorbed better. Foods that are rich in vitamin C such as tomato and citrus help to increase iron absorption.
Combinations of foods such as beans and tomato or tofu and broccoli result in good iron absorption. In general, vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, capsicum, potato, tomato, etc. and fruits such as cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, orange, etc. enhance the iron absorption.
Vegetables: Beetroot greens, mint, parsley, turnip greens. Vegetables like broccoli and bok choy are rich in iron and also high in vitamin C. The presence of vitamin C in these vegetables help absorb iron.
The daily requirement of iron is very easily met with vegetarian diet. For example, 1 cup of cooked spinach contains 3 mg (palak paneer recipe), 1 cup of tofu contains 13.2 mg and 1 cup cooked lentils give 6.4 mg of iron.
Iron Sources For Vegetarians & Vegans
Vegetables (1/2 cup cooked)
Potato, baked with skin
Potato, 1 large
18.1- 42.0 mg
Sweet potatoes, canned
Watermelon, 1/8 medium
Nuts & Seeds (2 tablespoon)
Almond, 1/4 cup
Apricot, dried 5
Figs, dried, 5 mg
Fruits (100 g)
Prune juice, 4 oz
Tomatoes, sun dried
Legumes (1/2 cup cooked)
Black eye beans
Chickpeas (200 g)
Kidney beans Rajmah
Soy foods (1/2 cup cooked)
Breads, Cereals and grains
Bran flakes, 1 cup
Oatmeal, 1 packet
Pasta, 1 cup, cooked
Semolina, 1/2 cup cooked
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoon
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice
White bread, 1 slice
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are packed with vitamin C and iron. The presence of vitamin C help our body absorb and digest the essential iron. Broccoli, Kale, Collard greens, and Brussels sprouts help fight anemia and fatigue with a high iron content.
Cooked spinach is an excellent source of iron and vitamin C, so body will have no trouble absorbing all the iron because of the presence of vitamin C.
Bran flakes, oatmeal and semolina are high in iron. Sea vegetables contain as high as 42 mg per half cup iron. Chickpeas, soybeans and tofu are also good sources of iron. Lentils and beans are high in iron but soy foods are even higher.
One cup serving of sunflower seeds gives about half the body's daily iron needs along with plenty of vitamin E.
Sources: USDA Nutrient Data Base for Standard Reference, Release 12, 1998. US Dept of Agriculture: 1988: Publication No. NIS/PT-103. www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search Pennington J. Bowe's and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used. 16th ed. Lippincott-Raven; 1994.
Foods Containing Heme Iron
Iron in animal food is found in a chemical structure known as heme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin. Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish and poultry. Heme iron is absorbed very efficiently by our body.
Beef Liver, Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Pork Liver, Sardines, Shrimp, Turkey and Chicken Liver are high heme iron sources.
Animal sources are some of the highest iron sources of iron
Animal Foods (Heme Iron Sources) (100 g)
Chicken liver, cooked
Beef liver, cooked
Ground beef, cooked
Lamb beef, cooked
Turkey, white meat
Turkey meat, cooked
Tuna in oil
Shrimp, mixed species, cooked, 4 large
Halibut, cooked, dry heat
Pork, loin, broiled
Low Fat Iron Foods
Many foods that are high in iron are also high in fat, so you may not like to eat them. However, there are several options for low fat iron rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, fruits, cereals, with less than 3 g fat and more than 9 mg iron per 100 g, as listed below:
Food (100 g)
Fat Content (g)
Iron Content (mg)
Cereals, KELLOGG'S Corn Flakes
Cereals, KELLOGG'S Raisin Bran
Cereals, KELLOGG'S Special K
Cereals, GENERAL MILLS, Corn Flakes
Cereals, GENERAL MILLS, Raisin Bran
Cereals, GENERAL MILLS, Whole Grain TOTAL
Mushrooms, morel, raw
Peppers, capsicum, green or red
Seaweed, agar, dried
Kidney Beans, mature seeds, raw
Soy meal, defatted, raw
Iron Foods For Pregnancy
A pregnant woman needs more iron because of her baby's rapid development. So she should include foods like wholegrains and iron fortified breakfast cereals in her daily diet. Her doctor may advise her to add a daily iron supplement of 30 to 50 mg when she enters 20th week of pregnancy, to avoid iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy. The iron supplement should be taken with a vitamin C source such as orange or tomato juice to increase its absorption by the body.
If you are pregnant, your pregnancy diet may include cooked dried beans, oat bran, soybean, barley, pumpkin seeds, dry fruits such as apricots, peaches, prunes, raisin; vegetables such as artichokes and spinach, seaweed, blackstrap molasses and heme iron from animal foods such as beef, lean buffalo meat, duck, sardines, cooked clams, shrimp and oyster to get adequate iron.
You should limit the iron blockers like tea and coffee. Remember to have your iron levels checked soon after giving birth.
Iron Rich Recipes
Some of the recipes which contain ingredients that are high in iron content are given below :
Give Your Comments: You can add your comments on this article.
Comments to date: 10. Page 1 of 1.
Deborah Deist, IP: 22.214.171.124 4:24pm on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
Please note Iron can play hell with your bowel. Constipation can be a big problem if taking a supplement.
Donna, IP: 126.96.36.199 10:01am on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Looking for a simple list of foods high in iron to help with iron deficiency.
shilpa, IP: 188.8.131.52 5:08am on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
I am in 35th week of pregnancy and my hb count is 7.8 pls prescribe me food course and are sheep/goat meat and sheep/goat liver are rich in iron? Admin: Goat meat has 3.2 milligrams of iron per serving compared to beef's 2.9 milligrams and chicken's 1.5 milligrams.
srividya, IP: 184.108.40.206 9:04am on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
is date syrup good of health? i live in UAE and get quality date syrup here, which i have with milk everyday. What are its benefits?
Drivel, IP: 220.127.116.11 9:41pm on Friday, July 19th, 2013
Could you please add a list of foods you should eat if you need to REDUCE the iron in your diet.
jeevagan, IP: 18.104.22.168 10:27pm on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Thanks for useful information. Whether Drumstick is rich in iron or not? Admin: Drumsticks are rich in iron. According to Trees for Life organization, “ounce-for-ounce, drumstic contain more iron than spinach, more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas”.
c.manjulamohan, IP: 22.214.171.124 9:14am on Sunday, November 11th, 2012
Thanks, I got so much information about, I wanted it badly as my daughter is pregnant and to take iron nicely as she has iron deficiency.
Ann Solomon, IP: 126.96.36.199 5:12am on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
What are some good juices to help with low iron. Admin: Will be listed soon.
Jo-Ann T.De Felipe, IP: 188.8.131.52 3:59am on Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Can you give example of vitamins rich in iron.
Rose Bilgin, IP: 184.108.40.206 2:58pm on Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Can we please also have some dessert, cake and cookie recipes.
Doesn't have to be related to iron but I would love to have some Indian recipes.