Healthy Foods That Are High in Iron

Why Your Body Needs Iron

Beef and Spinach salad is high in iron.
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Iron 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 – that's 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. The average adult male needs about 8 milligrams (mg) of iron per day – a woman who is still having her period requires about 18mg per day.

Dietary iron is found in both plant and animal-based foods. If you're interested in boosting your iron intake, here are 13 of them.


Oysters in shells with lemon
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Oysters are an excellent source of iron. A serving of six raw oysters has almost 4mg of iron. It also has about 43 calories, 50mg of calcium, and 5g 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 3mg of iron. That half-cup serving also has 6mg fiber and 500mg potassium. It also has plenty of protein and 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 4mg 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 3mg of iron in a half-cup serving. Lentils are also high in fiber – about 8mg. In addition, lentils are high in protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is high in iron.
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Nothing makes us happier than finding out that chocolate is good for you, and it turns out that dark chocolate is an excellent source of iron, as well as antioxidants. A serving of dark chocolate (45-59 percent cacao solids) has almost 3.5mg 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 2.5mg of iron, along with plenty of potassium and B vitamins, along with a little vitamin D. It also has 400mg 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 2.5mg of iron, along with several other minerals. It also has 141mcg folate, which is one of the B-complex vitamins, and 6g 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 1mg 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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I'm not sure why, but potatoes don't get the credit they deserve, nutritionally speaking. Not only are they a good source of vitamin C, B vitamins, but they're also an excellent source of potassium. Oh, and they're also high in iron. In fact, one large baked potato with the skin has more than 3mg 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 2mg 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 6.5mg of iron. It's also got almost 250mg of calcium and more than 800mg of potassium. It's also got some 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 1mg 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 3mg of iron. It's also a good source of zinc, potassium, and other minerals, plus vitamin B-12. It's also got about 5g of saturated fat, so portion control is a good idea.


United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.