iron rich foods

Importance of iron rich foods

Consumption of iron rich foods are very essential for health.

Iron is needed to make hemoglobin (Hb) a part of red blood cells that acts like carrier for oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Hb carry oxygen in the lungs drives it through the bloodstream and drops it off in tissues including the skin and muscles and from there it picks up carbon dioxide and drives it back to the lungs where it is exhaled.

Types of iron found in belong to two categories, i) Heme and ii) Non-heme iron.

Heme iron is found non-vegetarian sources of food like in meat, fish and poultry. This form of iron is most readily absorbed by the body.

Non-heme sources of iron is found in vegetarian sources of foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. They are not easily absorbed by the body.

If the body does not absorb its required amount of iron, person become iron deficient. If his ion deficient symptoms has progressed, it developed in to anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the body’s iron stores are so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies which leads to development of anemia and reflect symptoms like fatigue, pale skin, fingernails weakness, dizziness, headache etc.

The iron deficiency and anemia can be treated with proper diet and iron supplements.

The average recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron is 18 mg per day. The RDI of iron may vary based on an individual’s gender and life stage. A menstruating women and pregnant women require more iron compared to normal individuals.

List of iron rich foods

List of iron rich foods can be classify depending on their sources such vegetables, fruits and seeds.

Iron rich foods from vegetables

There are several vegetables which are rich in not only iron but other healthy nutrients such as vitamins, mineral and dietary fiber. Some of the iron rich vegetables are listed here.

Dark leafy Greens

Spinach and other green leafy veggies like and kale are good source of the iron and other nutritional components.

Spinach is a green leafy vegetable that is amongst the healthiest in the world.

Spinach has naturally high nutritional profile for many vitamins like B, C and K. Apart from these it is packed with iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and many other micronutrients.

This can be consume along the cooked vegetable as well as a smoothie.


Beetroot is a root which is naturally high nitric oxide content.

Nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels and allows more blood to circulate through them. This aids more oxygen transported all over the body.

Beetroot is a root is one of the important iron rich foods.

Apart from it, it is packed with several naturally occurring vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.

This can be consume as salad or by making it juice and smoothie.

Green beans

Green beans are rich source of vitamin B-complex, as we as vitamin A, C and K.

They are also rich in proteins, dietary fiber as well as the minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium.

These natural nutritional components make it an ideal choice for the vegetarians.

It contain two very potent flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and Kaempferol which have additional health benefits. 


Tomato do not contains much iron as compared to other sources, but contains lycopene, a potent antioxidant and vitamins like A and C.

I has been found that tomato fruit extract improves the levels of hemoglobin formation in the pregnant women.

Iron rich foods from Fruits

There are several fruits which comes under iron rich foods. They are not only rich in iron but also other healthy nutrients. Some of the iron rich fruits are listed here.


Pomegranates is one of the healthiest fruits and very significant for a person with iron deficiency and suffer from anemia. Apart from this it is very delicious also.

I have significant amount of Vitamin C content which strengthens the immune system and enhances the body immunity and also helping in the natural absorption of iron.


Oranges are also very helpful anemia and iron deficient person. It is packed with a lot of vitamin C which strengthens the immune system and enhances the body immunity and also helping in the natural absorption of iron.


Regular eating of an apple not only keeps the doctor away but it could also keep anemia and iron deficiency away.

Apples are naturally rich in vitamin c and several minerals.  

Apart from this it is rich in dietary fiber which make digestive system healthy and also in management of the weight and cholesterol.


Date is also rich in the iron and vitamins B and C. 

Vitamin C which strengthens the immune system and enhances the body immunity and also helping in the natural absorption of iron.

It can be consumed directly or may be soaked in water overnight before consuming.

Dates are rich source of the dietary fiber also which improve the digestive health.


Apricots contains significant amount of iron and are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

It can be consumed directly or may be soaked in water overnight before consuming.

It is ideal for snacks.

Iron rich foods from seeds

Flax seeds

Flax seeds is well known for its rich source of omega-3-fatty acid, proteins, vitamins, mineral and dietary fiber.

It usage has been associated with several health benefits, such as type 2 diabetes,  reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Its dietary fiber have great potential for minimizing digestive system related problems.  

Since it contains some anti-nutritional component so it is advised that, consume it after roasting not as raw.

It can be incorporated in anyone daily diet in the form by directly consuming and grinding it to make powder and include in the meals etc.

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are a rich source of iron and a cup of sesame seeds provide around 20 mg of iron.

It is also packed with several essential nutritional components such as Vitamin E, Zinc, Copper and Phosphorus along with the fiber.

They are also good source of healthy fats which improve cardiovascular health.

This seed can be sprinkle on meals, can be taken along with smoothies or just blend with your choice of drink.


The fenugreek leaves are loaded with iron, helpful in blood formation and very good for the anemic people.

Fenugreek seeds come under spice are also loaded with the iron.

Apart from this it is very good for managing the metabolic syndrome like cardiovascular diseases, diabetics and obesity. It lower blood sugar and bad cholesterol.

Causes of Iron Deficiency

Because of the menstrual cycle if there is the greater blood loss then more the chance of iron deficiency.  

In a pregnant lady, the developing fetus requires a high amount of iron so she should take care of their iron level. Same way a breast feeding lady should also take care of their iron level by eating proper iron rich food.

People having gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal disorders and diseases like colitis and Cohn’s disease have an inadequate iron absorption.

The person who are having kidney problem and are on dialysis have more chance of getting iron deficiency. This is due to an inability of the kidney to make desire amounts of the hormone erythropoietin which is necessary for red blood cell creation.

Growing kids such as infants and toddlers require a lot of iron, so they are at high risk of iron deficiency.

How to increase iron absorption?

Presence of significant amount of Vitamin C in fruits and vegetables help in increasing the absorption of iron in the body. Vitamin C will increase the absorption of non-heme iron by as much as 85%.

Cooking of foods in cast iron pan provide 2-3 times more iron as compared to non-iron pan.

Drinking of coffee and tea after meals can reduce more than 50% of iron absorption. So it should avoided. Tannins, oxalates, polyphenols, and phytates found in tea and coffee are the main culprit responsible for reduce iron absorption.

Iron supplements

If someone is worried that he is not consuming enough iron rich foods, use of an iron supplement is a great option.

For fast recovery of the body iron one may use iron supplements along with the iron rich foods.

Thus, everyone should be well aware to incorporate iron rich foods in the daily dietary habit for overall health life.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides a general information only. It is in no way a substitute for trained medical practitioner opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. We do not claim any obligation for this information.

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