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 in shells with lemon
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Oysters are an excellent source of iron. A serving of six raw oysters has almost 4 mg of iron. It also has about 43 calories, 50 mg of calcium, and 5 grams (g) of protein.

White Beans

White beans are high in iron.
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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

Animal Liver
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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 D—all for about 130 calories.


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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

Dark chocolate is high in iron.
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It turns out that dark chocolate is an excellent source of iron as well as antioxidants. A serving of dark chocolate (45 to 59 percent cacao solids) has almost 3.5 mg of iron. It also has 232 calories, so don't overdo it. 

Canned Tuna

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Canned tuna is a rich source of iron. One 6-ounce can of tuna has over 2.5 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 are high in iron.
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Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are rich in iron. One-half cup of chickpeas has almost 2.5 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

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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
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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.


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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 is high in iron.
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Of course, iron is 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.


Sultanas, raisins and corinths in wooden spoons, close up, elevated view
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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

Beef tenderloin is high in iron.
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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.

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