Foods High in Iron

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.

Daily iron requirement | Health risk of too much iron | anemia causes | Iron deficiency symptoms | Iron rich foods for vegetarians | Heme Iron foods
low fat high Iron foods | Iron in pregnancy | Iron rich recipes

Foods Not Good (Inhibitors) For Iron Absorption: Iron Blockers

Avoid the following foods in combination with iron foods as they inhibit the iron absorption: Tea, coffee, chard, etc.

The List of Iron Rich Foods

Iron Foods

Following is a list of iron sources which contain 8 mg or more of iron per 100 g of the food.

  1. Cereals & Grains: barley, Rice flakes
  2. Pulses & Beans: cow pea, lobia (black-eye beans), lentils, soybean.
  3. Iron rich 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.
  4. Sea vegetables.
  5. Iron rich Spices: Turmeric (Haldi)
  6. Fruits High in Iron: Dried dates, watermelon, raisins
  7. Fish and Red meats.
  8. Iron in Animal Sources - Heme Iron: Animal food is one of the highest iron foods.

Iron In Vegetarian Diet

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)Iron
Beet greens1.4 mg
Bok choy0.7 mg
Broccoli0.55 mg
Brussels Sprouts0.9 mg
Green beans0.60 mg
Kale0.55 mg
Peas1.2 mg
Potato, baked with skin1.7 mg
Pumpkin1.7 mg
Spinach1.5 mg
Potato, 1 large1.4 mg
Sea vegetables18.1- 42.0 mg
Sweet potatoes, canned1.7 mg
Swiss chard2 mg
Tomato juice0.6 mg
Turnip greens1.6 mg
Watermelon, 1/8 medium0.5 mg

Nuts & Seeds (2 tablespoon)Iron
Almond, 1/4 cup1.3 mg
Apricot, dried 51.6 mg
Cashew nuts1.0 mg
Figs, dried, 5 mg2.0 mg
Pumpkin seeds2.5 mg
Tahini1.2 mg
Sesame1.2 mg
Sunflower seeds1.2 mg

Fruits (100 g)Iron
Apples, dried2 mg
Apricots, dried6 mg
Figs, dried2 mg
Mulberries2.6 mg
Pears, dried2.1mg
Prune juice, 4 oz1.5
Raisins3 mg
Tomatoes, sun dried9 mg

Legumes (1/2 cup cooked)Iron
Lentils3.2 mg
Black eye beans2.6 mg
Chickpeas (200 g)6.2 mg
Kidney beans Rajmah1.5 mg
Lima beans2.2 mg
Navy beans2.5 mg
Pinto beans2.2 mg

Soy foods (1/2 cup cooked)Iron (mg)
Soy milk0.9
Breads, Cereals and grainsIron
Bran flakes, 1 cup11.0
Oatmeal, 1 packet6.3 mg
Pasta, 1 cup, cooked1.7 mg
Semolina, 1/2 cup cooked5.5 mg

Wheat germ, 2 tablespoon

1.2 mg
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice0.9 mg
White bread, 1 slice0.7 mg

Iron Rich Vegetables

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.

USDA Nutrient Data Base for Standard Reference, Release 12, 1998.
US Dept of Agriculture: 1988: Publication No. NIS/PT-103.
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)
Clams, steamed22
Clams, cooked8.5
Oysters, cooked8.5
Oysters, raw5.4
Chicken liver, cooked8.5
Beef liver, cooked6.3
Beef, roasted3.5
Ground beef, cooked2.2
Lamb beef, cooked2.2
Turkey, white meat1.6
Turkey meat, cooked4.8
Tuna in oil1.2
Shrimp, mixed species, cooked, 4 large0.7
Halibut, cooked, dry heat1.06
Pork, loin, broiled1.05
Egg, 10.7

Low Fat Iron Rich 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:

(100 g)
Fat Content
Iron Content
Cereals, KELLOGG'S Corn Flakes0.5929
Cereals, KELLOGG'S Raisin Bran2.1912.77
Cereals, KELLOGG'S Special K1.5527
Cereals, GENERAL MILLS, Corn Flakes1.6160
Cereals, GENERAL MILLS, Raisin Bran1.8232.73
Cereals, GENERAL MILLS, Whole Grain TOTAL1.6760
Mushrooms, morel, raw0.5712.18
Peppers, capsicum, green or red3.0010.4
Seaweed, agar, dried0.3021.4
Kidney Beans, mature seeds, raw0.259.35
Soy meal, defatted, raw2.3913.7

Iron Rich Foods For Pregnancy

A pregnant woman needs more iron because of her baby's rapid development. So she should include iron rich 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, iron rich 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 :

  1. Oat bran oatmeal recipe
  2. Chole recipe
  3. Lobia Palak recipe
  4. Sooji ka Halwa
  5. Sooji Dhokla recipe
  6. Sooji idli recipe
  7. Moong dal
  8. Maa ki dal
  9. Palak paneer

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