Iron is more than important. It’s critical. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. Without enough iron, you may experience iron deficiency anemia, a condition that can lead to fatigue, weakness, and other health issues.
Iron is found in both animal-based and plant-based foods, but the form of iron in plant-based foods is not as easily absorbed by your body. I always recommend that you buy organic, non-GMO foods whenever possible. However, I understand that it can be expensive, but try your best to get your meats or fish from organic sources like a farmers market or butcher shop.
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Here are ten high-iron food sources:
If you eat oysters, you’re getting a good dose of iron. 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked oysters provide 8 milligrams (mg) of iron — that’s 45% of the daily value (DV). In addition, oysters are high in zinc, which helps your body absorb iron.
Organ meats are a great source of iron, and the liver is one of the best. 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked beef liver provides 6.5 mg of iron — that’s 36% DV. Similarly, other organ meats like kidneys, heart, and brain are also super sources of iron.
Dark leafy greens like spinach are not only rich in iron — they also provide essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and vitamin K. 1 cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach provides 6 mg of iron — that’s 33% DV.
Lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and many other important vitamins and minerals. 1 cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides 6 mg of iron — that’s 33% DV. Furthermore, lentils are inexpensive and extremely versatile. You can add them to salads, soups, stews, or make a delicious curry.
5. Red Meat
Beef, lamb, and pork are excellent sources of heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by your body than non-heme iron from plant foods. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked beef provides 2.7 mg of iron — that’s 15% DV. What’s more, red meat is a great source of zinc, B vitamins, and other important minerals.
Not only is tofu an excellent source of plant-based protein, but it’s also a good source of iron. Just 1/2 cup (126 grams) of firm tofu provides 3.6 mg of iron — that’s 20% DV. Additionally, tofu also contains calcium and isoflavones — compounds that may help reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Certain varieties of fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are loaded with both heme-iron and omega-3 fatty acids. 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked salmon provides 1.1 mg of iron — that’s 6% DV. In comparison, the same amount of canned tuna provides 1.4 mg — that’s 8% DV.
Beans are a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and iron. 1 cup (170 grams) of cooked white beans provides 7.8 mg of iron — that’s 44% DV. Similarly, other varieties like black beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans are also good sources of iron.
Quinoa is the best source of plant-based protein and other important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. Just 1 cooked cup (185 grams) provides 2.8 mg of iron — that’s 15% DV. To top it off, quinoa is gluten-free and easy to prepare.
10. Dark Chocolate
Believe it or not, dark chocolate is a great source of iron. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) provides 3.3 mg of iron — 18% DV. In addition, the cocoa in dark chocolate is also loaded with healthy antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
Overall, iron is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in maintaining good health. These ten high-iron food sources can help you ensure that you’re getting enough iron in your diet. But if you’re still concerned about your iron levels, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for personalized advice.
Also read: 10 Warning Signs of Low Iron in a Woman