21 Iron Rich Foods
Iron is a highly essential nutrient required for the normal functioning of our body. The importance of this super mineral is more for the menstruating or pregnant women, infants, children aged 1 to 2, people over 65, and people on blood thinners. You can ensure a recommended intake of this nutrient for your body by consuming the foods rich in Iron (1). In today’s post, we will discuss 21 Iron Rich Foods that will help your body get sufficient amount of iron.
What is Iron?
Iron is one of the components of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin, which is a substance in red blood cells, transports the oxygen across the body for its various functions (2).
Dietary iron comes in two forms- heme and non-heme. Heme iron is derived from the haemoglobin in the animal food sources, such as fish, and red meat, whereas, Non-heme iron comes from the plant sources.
Why is Iron Important for Your Body?
Being a must-have mineral, the deficiency of iron can be catastrophic for your body. A less than usual amount of iron in your body causes the number of red blood cells to decrease. This condition is known as Iron-deficiency anaemia (3).
As a result, your body fails to produce enough haemoglobin and hence, doesn’t carry sufficient oxygen to body cells and tissues. Consequently, you feel tired, weak, irritable, dizzy and experience difficulty in breathing (4).
21 Best Iron Rich Foods
Almonds contain 3.7 mg iron per 100 g and contribute towards 20% of Recommended daily allowance (RDA). The iron present in almonds is non-heme iron. Therefore, it doesn’t get well absorbed as compared to the heme iron from animal sources (5).
The iron absorption of your body from the almonds can be increased by combining it with foods which contain vitamin C. However; you should avoid consuming wine, tea or coffee as they reduce the iron absorption rate.
2. Cashew Nuts
Cashews contain 6.7 mg iron per 100 g which is 37% of the RDA. As is with all the non-heme iron sources, cashew nuts also include iron blockers which minimise your body’s capability to absorb all of the iron content.
To deal with this, you can soak cashew nuts to reduce their iron inhibitors. Dehydrate them and eat as a crunchy snack. Alternatively, you can also make cashew flour and use it in baking to utilise much of its iron.
Lentils contain 3.3 mg iron per 100 g that makes for 18% of the RDA. Lentils are an excellent source of iron. Additionally, they also provide magnesium, folate and potassium.
To maximise the iron absorption from lentils, you should eat them with vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Eggs contain 1.2 mg of iron per 100 g which makes 6% of the RDA. Egg yolk is both heme and non-heme iron source. Besides, egg yolks are also rich in lutein- a nutrient which keeps your eyes healthy, and Vitamin B.
You can make them a part of your daily breakfast by eating them with avocado, a whole wheat toast sprinkled with red chile pepper flakes.
Spinach contains 2.7 mg iron per 100 g and makes for 15% of the RDA. Spinach contains non-heme iron which isn’t absorbed efficiently in the body. On a good side, Spinach also contains vitamin C, which significantly boosts the iron absorption. Spinach is one of the best iron rich foods.
Besides, the spinach is a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (carotenoids) which show anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the risk of cancer.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide 0.6 mg of iron per 100 g of serving. This makes 3% of the RDA.
It also contains vitamin C but in moderate quantity. So you should try to add bell peppers, pineapple salad or ripened tomatoes along with your meal to increase your non-heme iron metabolism.
7. Green Peas
Green peas contain 1.5 mg iron per 100 g which is 8% of the RDA. Along with the iron, peas are also loaded with protein, potassium and fiber.
You can eat them as a salad or try them as soup thickeners. Dried peas also are no less in their iron content.
Here is an informative video from HomeVeda Nutrition
Broccoli contains 0.7 mg of iron per 100 g and contributes 3% to the RDA. Broccoli is a favourite food for health and fitness seekers due to it being a significant vitamin C source. It contains 89.2 mg of Vitamin C, which is 148% of RDA.
Due to its vitamin C richness, it blocks the iron inhibition, and thus, the iron absorption of the body gets improved. Besides, broccoli also contains folate, fiber, and vitamin K.
Tomatoes provide 0.3 mg of iron per 100 g of their serving. This is 1% of the RDA.
Another food which is highly rich in vitamin C and thus helps in the efficient absorption of all of its iron content by the body. Sun-dried tomatoes contain more iron than the regular ones. Moreover, they are also rich in lycopene which is an antioxidant protecting you from sunburn. Tomatoes is one of the best iron rich foods.
Beet provides 0.8 mg of iron per 100 g. It is 4% of the RDA. Beet also comes with other nutrients such as vitamin C (4.9 mg), calcium, copper, and folate.
Besides, they provide Vitamin B6, phosphorus and magnesium. Beet is one of the best iron rich foods.
Strawberries contain 0.4 mg of iron per 100 g and make for 2% of the RDA. Although the iron content is low in strawberries, it is still absorbed effectively due to its high vitamin C content (58.8 mg).
Strawberries also increase the iron absorption from the other plant-based foods.
Watermelon contains 0.2 mg of iron per 100 g making for 1% of the RDA.
Besides, watermelon is also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and other essential amino acids and antioxidants.
Seedless raisins contain 1.9 mg of iron per 100 g, which is 10% of the RDA.
To get most of the iron from raisins, Soak them and them with vitamin C-rich foods such as strawberries and sweet potatoes. Raisins are found to be supporting the immune system and also help the body in making amino acids. However, It should be noted that its consumption more than 45 milligrams in a day makes it toxic for the body.
The iron content in dates is 1 mg per 100 g making for 5% of the RDA.
The consumption of this dried fruit can be started with a ¼ cup and gradually increased to 1 cup.
Apples contain 0.1 mg of iron per 100 grams and have a much less or negligible contribution in the RDA.
Apples do contain a right amount of vitamin C that promotes the non-heme iron absorption found in fruits.
Bananas contain 0.3 mg of iron per 100 g which is 1% of the RDA.
The same thing as with apples goes with bananas also. Low in iron, but high in Vitamin C.
Grapes contain 0.3 mg of iron per 100 g, 1% of the RDA.
Although grapes have low iron content, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Grape is one of the best iron rich foods.
Apricots provide 0.4 mg of iron per 100 g, i.e. 2% of the RDA.
Not only they satisfy a sweet tooth, they also contain fiber, beta-carotene and other nutrients.
Turnip includes 0.3 mg iron/100 g, i.e. 1% of the RDA.
Prunes are the dried plums. They contain 0.9 mg of iron per 100 g which is 4% of the RDA.
Further, prunes are also rich in vitamins such as Vitamin A, K, and B-6, and potassium. By acting as a mild-laxative, they relieve constipation. On the other side, Prune juice is rich in fiber, Vitamin C and manganese too.
Tamarind provides 2.8 mg of iron per 100 g which makes it 15% of the RDA.
It is an excellent source of iron and also has Vitamin E and B, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, fiber, and manganese.
Benefits of Iron Rich Foods
- Treat your frequent headaches caused due to improper supply of oxygen to brain cells.
- Boost your essential energy levels to help you carry out your routine functions normally.
- Keep the anaemia away by increasing the number of your red blood cells.
- Increase your brain function by promoting and stimulating its cognitive capabilities.
- Treats muscle spasms and restless leg syndrome which is caused due to iron deficiency.
- Regulates body temperature to support your body’s metabolic and enzymatic functions.
Iron has a significant role to play in the human body. Its deficiency not only affects the normal functioning of the body but also leads to various diseases and other health complications.
This mineral can be maintained in a normal range in your body through the consumption of foods that are exceedingly rich in iron. These foods also contain other beneficial nutrients and plant compounds in addition to the iron. So, include them in your diet and meet your iron requirements to stay healthy and normal.