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

Navy beans

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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 4-ounce serving has 5.54 mg of iron. It also provides 23 grams of protein and is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, folate, and other nutrients. A single serving contains about 153 calories, according to USDA data.

Lentils

Lentils

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Lentils are another plant source of iron. A 100-gram cooked serving provides more than 3 mg of iron. Lentils are also high in fiber providing 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 one-ounce serving of dark chocolate (70-85% cacao solids) has almost 3.37 mg of iron. It also has 170 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 cooked 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. Depending on the source, one cup of cooked spinach has about 4-6.5mg 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.

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

  2. Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, raw. USDA FoodData Central. Updated April 1, 2019.

  3. Lentils, dry, cooked, fat not added in cooking. USDA FoodData Central. Updated April 1, 2019.

  4. Chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids USDA FoodData Central. Updated 4/1/2019

  5. Household USDA Food Fact Sheet

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