35 Iron Rich Foods + How To Know If You're Deficient
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35 Iron Rich Foods + How To Know If You’re Deficient

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Over 30% of the world population suffers from an iron deficiency with vegans and women dominating these numbers.

What Are the Common Symptoms?

You may be iron deficient if you notice:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Brittle nails

How to Know If You Are Iron Deficient?

One way of finding out is by running a simple blood test called the complete blood count (CBC). If you are anemic, the red blood cell (RBC) count will be lower than normal.

How Can You Overcome Iron Deficiency?

Most of the iron in our bodies comes from food that is easily available in the kitchen. To ward off iron deficiency, you should consume 8-18 mg of iron per day. I have compiled a comprehensive iron rich foods list for you below.

1. Spinach

Popeye the Sailor Man loved spinach for a reason – one cup (8oz) gave him 36% of reference daily intake (RDI) value of iron – that’s plenty of strength and energy to wrestle down Brutus and save Olive.

Spinach gives plenty of strength and energy because it is an iron rich food

2. Kale

Kale is your go-to source for iron particularly if you are dieting. It provides the required nutrition for weight loss. 1 cup of kale contains 5% of iron RDI. If you do not like to eat raw kale, drizzle some olive oil to make crunchy kale chips or drop a sprout into your soup.

3. Olives

Next in iron rich foods list are olives – one of the healthiest iron rich fruits in the world. One tablespoon of olive oil contains about 119 calories but all the goodness in the world. It is an excellent source of iron, 1 cup of olives provides 25% of the daily recommended value of iron.

Olive is one of the healthiest iron rich fruits in the world

4. Collard Greens

Pick the darkest leaves of collard greens to get iron (2% per one cup). Collard also contains calcium and vitamins (A & C).

5. Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are not just mouth-watering, they are also tiny little iron shells. You get 27% of iron in a single cup of dried tomatoes. Just make sure you do not buy canned tomatoes since they contain far too much oil.

Tomatoes can give 27 percent of iron in a single cup if sun-dried making it an iron rich food

6. Potatoes

Next comes the global favorite – potatoes. Starch and fiber in potatoes makes your stomach happy and full. However, not many people know that potatoes are also a good source of iron. 1 medium potato provides up to 18% of iron.

7. Peas

13th on our list is another favorite green – peas, a cup of which gives you 17% iron. Compared to other veggies, it is easy to fill up on peas since they are delicious and wholesome. You can eat them raw; boiled or steamed.

A cup of green peas can give 17 percent of iron

8. Black Eyed Peas

You can get your daily dose of iron from black eyed peas as well. Boil or soak one cup of peas overnight to get 24% of RDI value of iron. Black eyed pea and vegetable soup can also be a great starter or side dish to double-up your dose of iron.

9. Sesame Seeds

You do not have to look for iron supplements if you have sesame seeds in your pantry. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of sesame seeds on salads or steamed vegetables to get a healthy dose of copper, selenium, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin E and iron (20%).

Sesame seeds is one of the iron rich foods

10. Sunflower Seeds

There is something about seeds and intense nutritional value. Sunflower seeds, for instance, never disappoint with their nutritional value and health benefits. 1/4th cup of nutty seeds is a mineral- and nutrient-treat. Proteins, carbs, vitamins (E, B5, B6), magnesium, zinc, iron (6%), folate (17%) – you just name it and everything is packed in these tiny sunflower seeds.

11. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds can make a great evening snack given their nutty and salty taste. Grab a handful of seeds to get a daily dose of 5% iron.

A handful of pumkin seeds can give a daily dose of 5 percent of iron

12. Hemp Seeds

One tablespoon of hemp seeds a day gives you 13% of your daily iron requirements. If you don’t like them dry, blend them in smoothies.

13. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are normally used for their fiber, omega-3s and lignan (phytochemical) content to regulate hormones, improve digestion, and reduce cholesterol levels but they are also a good source of iron. A tablespoon of flax seeds provides 3% of non-heme iron.

A tablespoon of flax seeds provides 3 percent of non-heme iron

14. Lentils

If you are looking for iron rich vegetarian food, lentils are for you. Lentils contain amino acids, proteins, fiber and iron. Stew a cup of lentils to get 37% of iron.

15. Black Beans

For a solid daily iron dose (44%), soak a cup of black beans overnight and cook the next day. Avoid canned beans if possible as they are not organic.

A cup of black beans, soak overnight and cook the next day, can give a solid daily iron dose

16. Garbanzo Beans

Vegetarians can’t be happier because they can easily get the recommended daily intake of iron from vegetables and beans. If you are iron-deficient, eating a cup of garbanzo beans every other day will give you 26% iron.

17. Kidney Beans

Immensely popular kidney beans provide 22% of iron, folate, manganese, copper and protein. Kidney bean soups are tasty and can be given to children with iron deficiency.

Kidney bean soups are tasty and can be given to children with iron deficiency because it is an iron rich food

18. Lima Beans

Make lima bean soup today with carrots, zucchini and onions and give your taste buds a treat. 1 cup of lima beans contains 25% of iron and aside from producing blood, lima beans lower cholesterol and reduce flatulence.

19. Prunes

Munching on prunes is a good idea if you have a sweet tooth because not only will they satisfy your cravings, they will also give you plenty of iron (1 cup = 17%).

Prunes is considered as one of the iron rich foods

20. Dark Chocolate

Who can say no to dark chocolate? Eating it becomes a must if you have an iron deficiency for one bar of chocolate is loaded with 72% iron – a number too tempting to resist.

Eating dark chocolate every now and then is a good idea anyway. It keeps your:

  • Sugar cravings in check
  • Blood pressure low and reduces risk of heart attack
  • Improves brain function
  • Happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin) high

21. Strawberries

Can’t say no to iron rich fruits such as strawberries, because they increase the number of RBCs and blood volume. One cup of strawberries gives you 5% of iron. Strawberries also energize you and increase the redness of cheeks that is lost with anemia.

One cup of strawberries gives you 5 percent of iron

22. Brown Rice

Bet you didn’t know rice is another good source of iron. One cup of brown rice contains 5% of iron and fiber to provide a feeling of fullness and prevent midday energy sap.

23. Cocoa Powder

One ounce of cocoa contains 22% of your daily iron requirements. It also contains magnesium, manganese and copper.

One ounce of cocoa contains 22 percent of your daily iron requirements

24. Mushrooms

After leafy greens, mushrooms are probably the best source of plant iron. One cup of sliced mushrooms contains about 45% of iron. Experts recommend morel mushrooms for iron deficient people.

25. Goji Berries

Goji berries are iron rich fruits vegetables that are sometimes called superfood because of its nutritional value. One tablespoon of these berries provides up to 11% of iron.

Goji berries are iron rich foods

26. Cashew Nuts

Time to go nuts with cashew nuts if you have an iron deficiency. Cashew nuts are immensely healthy and a good source of iron, i.e., 11% per oz. Cashew nuts also contain zinc, magnesium and phosphorous.

27. Hazelnuts

Delicious hazelnuts provide 7% of iron per ounce and a good amount of vitamins, fiber and protein. Replacing high-carb snacks with hazelnuts is a good idea to prevent hunger pangs and midday cravings.

Delicious hazel nuts provide 7 percent of iron per ounce

28. Peanuts

Peanuts enjoy a good nutritional profile. Per ounce serving contains 7% of daily iron requirements.

29. Almonds

Almonds are probably the most popular snack in the world since these are a good source of iron (6% per oz), anti-oxidants, vitamin E and magnesium.

Almonds are a good source of iron

30. Lamb Kidney

Kidney, whether chicken or lamb, is a rich source of iron.

  • 6oz of lamb kidney contains 52% of reference daily intake (RDI) value of iron.
  • Kidney is also a good source of selenium (100%) and B vitamins (1300%).

31. Animal Liver

There is the reason why some moms stuff kids with organ meat, as it is the best source of iron, copper and folate, all of which are essential for blood vessels, nerves and immunity.

A duck liver gives you 75% of heme iron.

Animal liver is one of the iron rich foods

32. Goose Breast

Luscious and chewy goose breast is another way of replenishing your body with heme iron, a form of dietary iron. Your body absorbs heme iron more efficiently than others.

  • 6oz of goose breast contains 56% of daily iron intake.
  • Goose breast is also loaded with proteins (48%), phosphorous (37%) & copper (49%).

33. Lean Beef

Steak lovers would love it. 6 ounce of steak provides 52% of iron. That’s a lot for a single serving!

Not just that, when you munch on the scrumptious cut, you are also consuming a healthy amount of protein, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.

So medium-rare tonight?

6 ounce of steak from a lean beef provides 52% of iron

34. Chicken Heart

For something so tiny, chicken hearts are nutritional bombs. Bite on the teensy lump and you will get 2% of iron RDI. A chicken heart gives 2% of iron, vitamin B12 and protein. Vitamin B12 keeps blood cells healthy.

35. Seafood

Last but not least in our iron rich foods list is none other than Seafood.

Who is a seafood fan here?

Time to make sushi and give RBCs a little treat. Almost all fish and marine creatures contain iron but the highest is found in:

  • Octopus (29%)
  • Cuttlefish (33%)
  • Whelk or sea snail (28%)

Seafood is almost always part of the nutrition plan for women who are iron-deficient.

Octopus contains 29 percent of iron

To Sum it Up

The best way to overcome iron deficiency is to eat the right kind of food. The 35 iron-rich foods mentioned in the article contain sufficient quantities of the essential mineral to meet you daily requirements. Start adding them to your diet today to start seeing results.

35 Iron-Rich Foods + How To Know If You're Deficient

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