A Guide to Healthy Food That Are Rich in Iron

Enjoy these 13 foods to get your daily requirement

You can enjoy a variety of foods from either plant or animal sources to get the dietary iron you need. The average adult male requires about 8 milligrams (mg) of iron per day. A woman who is still having her period needs about 18 mg per day.

Your body needs iron because it is essential for the production of hemoglobin, a protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to every part of your body. It's also a component of myoglobin — which is similar to hemoglobin, but it's found in your muscle cells. If you don't get enough iron, you may feel fatigued and you may end up with iron-deficiency anemia. If you're interested in boosting your iron intake, here are 13 foods to use in your healthy diet.

Oysters

Oysters

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Oysters are an excellent source of iron. Depending on where they are from, a serving of six raw oysters can have between about 4 to 16 mg of iron. It also has anywhere between 5 to 28 grams (g) of protein.

White Beans

White beans are high in iron.
Alejandro Rivera/Getty Images

White beans are a good plant-based source of iron. One half-cup serving has more than 3 mg of iron. That half-cup serving has 6 mg fiber and 500 mg potassium, plus plenty of protein, calcium, B vitamins, and antioxidants.

Beef Liver

Beef liver

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Beef liver is well-known as a source of iron — and for good reason. One slice of liver has more than 4 mg of iron. It's also an excellent source of protein, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and it even has 33 International Units of vitamin, all for about 130 calories.

Lentils

Lentils

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Lentils are another plant source of iron with more than 3 mg of iron in a half-cup serving. Lentils are also high in fiber — about 8 mg. In addition, lentils are high in protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

It turns out that dark chocolate is an excellent source of iron as well as antioxidants. A 100 g serving of dark chocolate (70-85% cacao solids) has almost 11.9 mg of iron. It also has 598 calories, so don't overdo it. 

Canned Tuna

Tuna

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Canned tuna is a rich source of iron. The average can of tuna (about 6 ounces) has over 3 mg of iron, along with plenty of potassium and B vitamins, along with a little vitamin D. It also has 400 mg sodium, which is a little on the high side. But, canned tuna has less than 150 calories, as long as you choose the kind packed in water, not oil.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are rich in iron. One-half cup of chickpeas has over 2 mg of iron, along with several other minerals. It also has 141 micrograms (mcg) folate, which is one of the B-complex vitamins, and 6 grams of fiber—all for less than 150 calories.

Tomato Juice

Tomato juice

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tomato juice doesn't have as much iron as our other selections, but it's good for a beverage. One cup of tomato juice has 1 mg of iron. It also has lycopene, a potent antioxidant, and vitamin A. It's also a good source of minerals, but look out for brands that are too high in sodium. 

Baked Potato

Baked potato

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

 

Potatoes don't get the credit they deserve, nutritionally speaking. Not only are they a good source of vitamin C and B vitamins, but they're also an excellent source of potassium and are high in iron. In fact, one large baked potato with the skin has more than 3 mg of iron.

Cashews

Cashews

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Here's another plant-based source of iron. Cashews are perfect as an iron-rich snack — 1 ounce has close to 2 mg of iron, It also has some vitamins and minerals along with beneficial monounsaturated fats.

Spinach

Spinach

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Iron must have been the reason Popeye wolfed down all those cans of spinach. One cup of cooked spinach has 6.5 mg of iron. It's also got almost 250 mg of calcium and more than 800 mg of potassium, plus vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber.

Raisins

Raisins

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Raisins, along with most dehydrated fruits, are high in iron. One little box (about 1/3 cup) has almost 1 mg of iron — not bad for a mid-afternoon snack. Raisins are also high in potassium and an excellent source of B vitamins.

Beef Steak

Steak

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Beef is an excellent source of animal-sourced iron. One 6-ounce tenderloin steak has more than 3 mg of iron. It's also a good source of zinc, potassium, and other minerals, plus vitamin B-12. However, it has about 5 grams of saturated fat, so portion control is a good idea.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, "FoodData Central."

  2. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, "National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release."

  3. Household USDA Food Fact Sheet

Additional Reading