Many women suffer from iron deficiency, or anemia, because we don’t eat enough iron dense foods, plus we lose iron during menstruation. For these reasons it’s extremely important that we add iron rich foods to our diet.

Iron deficiency anemia is also a problem with kids who are picky eaters. Check out the list below for foods high in iron, plus the foods you should and should not eat with them.

Absorption of iron from food is influenced by multiple factors. One important factor being the form of the iron. Heme iron, found in animal sources, is highly available for absorption. Non-heme iron on the other hand, found in vegetable sources, is less bio-available.

How much iron do I need?

  • The recommended iron intake for men and post-menopausal women is 8 mg. The recommended intake for pre-menopausal women is 18 mg and the recommendation increases to 27 mg for pregnant women.
  • Children ages 7 to 12 months need 11 mg, 1 to 3 years 7mg, 4 to 8 years 10mg, 9-13 years 8mg, 14 to 18 years 11 mg (for boys), 15 mg (for girls).

Iron Absorption Enhancers: eat these foods to increase the iron absorption of the foods below.

  • Meat/fish/poultry
  • Fruits: Orange, Orange Juice, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit etc
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomato, tomato juice, potato, green & red peppers
  • White wine

Iron Absorption Inhibitors: these foods decrease the iron absorption.

  • Red Wine, Coffee & Tea
  • Vegetables: Spinach, chard, beet greens, rhubarb and sweet potato
  • Whole grains and bran
  • Soy products

List of Grains Rich in Iron:

  • Brown rice, 1 cup cooked 0.8 mg
  • Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 0.9 mg
  • Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons 1.1 mg
  • English Muffin, 1 plain 1.4 mg
  • Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked 1.6 mg
  • Total cereal, 1 ounce 18.0 mg
  • Cream of Wheat, 1 cup 10.0 mg
  • Pita, whole wheat, 1 slice/piece, 6 ½ inch 1.9 mg
  • Spaghetti, enriched, 1 cup, cooked 2.0 mg
  • Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 6.3 mg

List of Iron Rich Legumes, Seeds, and Soy:

  • Sunflower seeds, 1 ounce 1.4 mg
  • Soy milk, 1 cup 1.4 mg
  • Kidney beans, ½ cup canned 1.6 mg
  • Chickpeas, ½ cup, canned 1.6 mg
  • Tofu, firm, ½ cup 1.8 mg**
  • Soy burger, 1 average 1.8 to 3.9 mg**
  • Raw Spinach, 1 cup 1 mg**
  • Cooked Spinach, 1 cup 3.5 mg **
  • Pumpkin Seeds, ½ cup roasted 8.5 mg
  • Pistachios, ½ cup 4.4 mg

List of Vegetables Rich in Iron:

    • Broccoli, ½ cup, boiled 0.7 mg
    • Green beans, ½ cup, boiled 0.8 mg
    • Lima beans, baby, frozen, ½ cup, boiled 1.8 mg
    • Beets, 1 cup 1.8 mg
    • Peas, ½ cup frozen, boiled 1.3 mg
    • Potato, fresh baked, cooked w/skin on 4.0 mg
    • Vegetables, green leafy, ½ cup 2.0 mg
    • Watermelon, 6 inch x ½ inch slice 3.0 mg

    Other Foods Rich in Iron:

    • Blackstrap Molasses, one tablespoon 3.0 mg
    • Dates or Prunes, ½ cup 2.4 mg
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, three ounces 2.3 to 3.0 mg
    • Liver (beef, chicken), three ounces 8.0 to 25.0 mg*
    • Clams, Oysters ¾ cup 3.0 mg
    • Dark meat Turkey ¾ cup 2.6 mg
    • Pizza, cheese or pepperoni, ½ of 10 inch pie 4.5 to 5.5 mg

    *Pregnant women should not eat liver because of the high Vitamin A content which can harm the baby.

    **East with iron absorption enhancers.

    58 Responses to “Foods High in Iron”
    1. Tina says:

      Just a question,

      Why is spinich listed as an iron inhibitor, but yet it is found to be rich in iron?

    2. Oodora says:

      Hi Tina,

      According to Healthcastle.com:

      “Spinach is a source of non-heme iron, which is usually found in vegetable sources. Unlike heme iron found in animal products, non-heme iron is not as bioavailable to the body.

      According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked spinach provides ~3.5mg of iron whereas a cup of raw spinach only contains 1 mg of iron.

      Spinach – also inhibits iron absorption

      Spinach also contains oxalic acid (sometimes referred as oxalate). Oxalic acid binds with iron, hence inhibiting its absorption.

      Spinach is not the only food containing high levels of oxalic acid. Whole grains such as buckwheat and amaranth, other vegetables such as chard and rhubarb, as well as beans and nuts all contain significant levels of oxalic acid. “

    3. Barbara says:

      Regarding the question about the bioavailability of iron in spinach: Does this mean it is better to avoid spinach, beet greens, etc, if you are trying to increase your iron levels? Or are they a good source of iron if cooked or eaten with meat? Is the oxalate content the problem with soy products as well and would that apply to fermented soy products (tempeh) as well as tofu?

      Thank you.

    4. Oodora says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Always eat your greens, just eat some vitamin C with them and stay very far away from soy products, like tofu and soy milk. Soy beans are very toxic plants. Only eat small amounts of fermented soy, like miso.

    5. Kevin says:

      How exactly is soy toxic??

    6. Lisa says:

      Hi Oodora,

      My firends’ 92 year old GRANDMA is somewhat anemic after an accident. What could she ask for in the rehab unit, and what could Blake make to bring to help with her iron deficiency? He has a juicer. I told him liver is the best, but I see Total and Cream of wheat on your list. Are these helpful?

      thanks,,

      Lisa Poe

    7. Wendy says:

      So, If i had a blood test that said I have really high iron in my blood, What can I eat that will lower my iron??

    8. Teresa says:

      I was told to drink red wines for building up my the blood for iron deficiency yet you have on your list white wines please explain the diffirences…

    9. Teresa says:

      Which is best White or Red Wine???

    10. Oodora says:

      White wine helps absorb more iron than red wine because iron is less soluble in red wines than in white wines. Possibly due to the binding of iron to the polyphenoals in red wines.

    11. Pat says:

      I have 2 questions. I had the bypass stomach surgery and now crave salt. I eat a lot of pretzels and even use extra salt on foods. Does salt inhibit iron absorbsion? Is the surgery itself the cause of my iron deficiency?

    12. Oodora says:

      Hi Pat, according to my Dr. friend here is the problem: “you are craving salt because you have hypoadrenia (weak adrenals), commonly known as Addison’s disease. Going through any kind of surgery can bring this on. Also, if you had gastric bypass, then your ability to breakdown iron will be decreased because of the lack of HCL produced by the stomach (you need HCL to breakdown iron).”

      There is a supplement called Zypan which you can get from Standard Process. You will have to take this with every meal. I have been taking this and it has been helping me tons. http://www.standardprocess.com.

    13. Alex C. says:

      Oodora it’s nice to see you’re trying to help people to improve their health, but you shouldn’t be giving any nutritional/etc consultation if you aren’t a nutritionist or a doctor….especially when some of these people have been diagnosed with something or went through surgery. I understand you are a trainer, and so am I, and certifications make it clear that we cannot give out any type of nutritional advice since no certification tests us for it.

      Please be more careful.

    14. Oodora says:

      Thank you Alex for your comment and concern, but as you can read above anyone who has been diagnosed with something or has surgery gets a response from my doctor that I pass along. Everything is just that…nutritional advice, not a diagnosis or a prescription.

    15. terri says:

      im 36 weeks and 5days pregnant an my iron levels are 8.2 how can i incress them quickly as im due a c-section in 2wks n 2days

    16. Susanne says:

      My Husband has hemochromatosis, which means he has too much iron in his blood. I would like to know what he can eat which has no or very little iron in it, can someone help me please, is there a speicial diet he can have to help him with this problem? to help him be healthy and live a normal life

    17. annie says:

      hi im 15 yrs old and i went to hospital yesterday and i got told that im anaemic and my iron levals are quiet low , ive been really sick lately and i was wondering if you could reply to me with the best foods out of these that i should have to regain strength and health ?

    18. mona says:

      Hi Suzanne,
      Ihave haemochromotosis. My serum ferritin is 225. If it is near 330 for female they will take blood to relieve iron levels.
      Avoid taking a lot of vitamin c esp in tablet form. you may have oranges. Spinach or very green veg. Liver, black pudding, offal, too much shell fish.

    19. Maree says:

      My husband had been diagoniazed with high iron and diabetes so it is hard to get information about what vegetables he is allowed to eat. I was wondering if potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato are too high in iron. Also what other vegetables are also high in iron beside green leafy vegetables?

    20. deep says:

      black peper or white pepper has the high concentration?
      and also the factors effect of the pepper has the high concentration?

    21. scott says:

      For the vast majority of individuals oxalate-containing foods should not be a health concern. Under most circumstances, high oxalate foods like spinach can be eaten raw or cooked and incorporated into a weekly or daily meal plan as both baby spinach and mature, large leaf spinach can both make healthy additions to most meal plans.

    22. scott says:

      The ingestion of black tea has been shown to decrease the absorption of iron. Afrrcain tea may contain iron so too much should not be consumed.

    23. scott says:

      It is non-heme iron or the iron found in sources such as fruits and vegetables that is excessively absorbed in hemochromatosis. Thus a patient with hemochromatosis may consume a steak and not be overly concerned. Meat and blood are sources of heme iron.

    24. Debbie says:

      I was just told I was anemic . I had a pregnancy test and it was negative, I had a tubiligation about 9 yrs ago but I am almost two weeks late on my period which is usually very regular. Can being anemic effect my period?

    25. Renee says:

      what would you recommend as good example meals for a person who has just been diagnosed as an anaemic? As i was just diagnosed with anaemia and my doctor said i could eat more foods high in iron to lessen the effects of my deficiency as im only a teenager i have no clue and was wondering if anyone has any ideas especially those who have the same condition as me.

    26. Joanne says:

      If you’re low in iron you can go to any pharmacy and ge an over-the-counter iron pills and ask the pharmacist which dosage if right for you. Aside from that, red meat contains lots of iron. You should be having lots of steak, 2-3 times a week and that should make a big difference. Spinach and nuts are also high in iron

    27. ila mason says:

      Your list contains some of the same foods in both good and not so good sources of iron. That’s confusing; would you clear it up ~ (such as spinach and soy products?

    28. Shaz says:

      Hi All

      My son has Hemochromatosis and I’ve just started searching the Net on it…not real savvy yet…but I think I may have come across a reasonable site for info on low/high Iron rich foods etc. Google …
      ‘ehow foods high in iron’ …click on the left hand side ‘Top 5 to Try’ …there’s a little spiel on each one and then each one seems to have another different 5 …so you might need to go back and forth. Haven’t studied it thoroughly yet …but seems to be better than most others I clicked on.

      Cheers Shaz fromTas :-)

    29. Diane Burke says:

      Hi
      in your list of foods, how come we don’t see BEETS. I happen to see this by mere chance while shopping (as I need iron for anemia reasons). I will not take iron pills as I have very bad side effects.
      Anyway, I noticed that beets – 1/2 cup – is 10% iron. Why isn’t it mentioned in your list? Thank you.

    30. lola bledsoe says:

      my grandma was in the hospital and they said she needed iron, so i found this website and i think she is going to be happy and healthy.

    31. Terry says:

      Could you send me a list of iron rich food to eat

    32. Nicole E says:

      If you have any nutrition related questions you should be consulting a registered dietitian. RDs are registered health professionals that have the knowledge to practice clinically and apply nutrition to disease states as well as healthy physiology. Your family doctor should be able to refer you to a dietitian.
      There is much mis-infomation about nutrition floating around today as this is a current hot topic. Please for your own health and safety go to a dietitian for evidence based scientific nutrition information. I am a student in my third year of university in this program and noticed that some of the information shared above is not accurate. Soy beans are not at all toxic and both heme and non-heme iron are absorbed when a patient has hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a genetic disease that alters iron storage in the body, not absorption from the intestine.

    33. ReneeH says:

      Hi Dianne… I wondered the same thing about Beets. I’d also like to know why it’s not listed. I thought Beet juice was high in Iron….?

    34. Carla Cooks says:

      im new to this but im anemia i guess from having my kids plus a car wreck but i was wondering about soy products are you sayn soy products are not good for you at all

    35. Crystal says:

      ReneeH : Beets are listed in the article, Beet greens are listed as :

      “Iron Absorption Inhibitors: these foods decrease the iron absorption.

      Red Wine, Coffee & Tea
      Vegetables: Spinach, chard, beet greens, rhubarb and sweet potato
      Whole grains and bran
      Soy products”

      And Beets themselves are listed under:
      List of Vegetables Rich in Iron:

      Broccoli, ½ cup, boiled 0.7 mg
      Green beans, ½ cup, boiled 0.8 mg
      Lima beans, baby, frozen, ½ cup, boiled 1.8 mg
      Beets, 1 cup 1.8 mg

      Hope this helps!

    36. Crystal says:

      ReneeH : Beets are listed in the article, Beet greens are listed as :

      “Iron Absorption Inhibitors: these foods decrease the iron absorption.

      Red Wine, Coffee & Tea
      Vegetables: Spinach, chard, beet greens, rhubarb and sweet potato
      Whole grains and bran
      Soy products”

      And Beets themselves are listed under:
      “List of Vegetables Rich in Iron:

      Broccoli, ½ cup, boiled 0.7 mg
      Green beans, ½ cup, boiled 0.8 mg
      Lima beans, baby, frozen, ½ cup, boiled 1.8 mg
      Beets, 1 cup 1.8 mg”

      Hope this helps!

    37. Andrea says:

      What are the best high iron foods to eat while pregnant?

    38. Denise says:

      My mother was told on her last dr visit that she is low in iron but they cant put her on anything because she is on cumidin for her blood and it is still too thin. She also has chronic constipation and increase of iron also causes that……..any suggestions as far as foods to help her iron levels but not interfere with the cumidin and bowel blockage?

    39. CRYSTAL P says:

      I WAS TOLD PLANTAINS ARE HIGH IN IRON IS THAT TRUE

    40. Sneha says:

      I am pregnent. its my 5th month and my hemoglobine is 7.0.
      How mo increase my Hemoglobine level? What should I eat?
      Please suggest.

    41. Katelyn says:

      “MILK” should be added to the list of ‘Iron Absorption Inhibitors.’ I learned it in my classes as a nutrition/dietetics student :) …So Cereals that are ‘fortified’ with iron, when added to milk, doesn’t really do you much good because the milk in your cereal will inhibit the absorption of iron. So eat the cereal as a dry snack!
      The foods listed that ‘Enhance” iron absorption all have one thing in common….VITAMIN C! :) So drink a glass of OJ with your eggs (yolks)…just watch the cholesterol = No more than 4 egg yolks a week :)

    42. Katelyn says:

      I definitely agree with Nicole E…I am graduating with my bachelors in Nutrition/dietetics but it is advisable to see a Registered Dietitian (make sure they are certified), for your specific needs especially if you have any occurring conditions or are taking any medications because some of these foods may have an adverse effect on your health and worsen your state of health.
      Remember…Love your food and Love your body! Go Nutrition! :)

    43. Liz says:

      http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iron/ better source

    44. LYDIA D SOUZA says:

      I am 37 years old and my HB is 8. How can I increase the same

    45. maxine says:

      Take slow Fe iron pills one a day with a glass of Orange juice

    46. Roy says:

      The standard remedy for hemochromatosis is to donate blood regularly – say once a week – until iron levels return to normal, or habitually if there is a chronic problem.

    47. Roy says:

      The pauper’s plate of liver and onions is one of the very best sources of iron. Liver has much more iron by weight than even the best cuts of red meat, and onions have vitamin C to aid absorption. Usually served with a side of potatoes, it’s a meal rich in iron. The vinegar in A1 sauce will also aid absorption of iron. Ditto for balsamic vinegar, OJ, grapefruit juice, lemon or lime. Do be mindful that these acids will tend to remove tooth enamel.

    48. Anna says:

      This list was extremely helpfull to me!!!! i never knew that so many foods had iron in them. Thanks again!

    49. althea says:

      IS IT OK TO INCREASE MY IRON TO 65MG. I don’t feel my best today. I AM THROWING UP TOO.

    50. Doris says:

      My doctor told me my iron level is at 9…a little on the low side, but still normal range. She suggested I up my intake of iron-rich foods. I feel like crap. I have had chronic fatigue syndrome for years, but my fatigue is worse than it has ever been. I haven’t been able to work for months

      …Is it possible that for someone like myself who already has a chronic illness, that my iron count can be causing symptoms of amenia? I have purple skin around my eyes, and I also have never had this before.

      …Also can iron deficiency possibly cause cognitive problems? A recent brain mri showed many lesions mostly my frontal lobes. I’m going through being investigated for MS; I and my GP doubt I have that. Can amemia cause brain lesions?

    51. Cheri says:

      Wwhat is the best combanationfor getting my body to absorb high iron foods and what is the best high in iron foods?
      Thank you,
      Cheri

    52. Sara says:

      I am pregnant would you give a diet plase
      Thanks Sara
      here is my mail saram123@yahoo.es
      send it there

    53. Anonymous says:

      I AM 9 YEARS OLD BOY . MY WEIGHT IS 21KG. PL.GIVE ME ADVICE TO INCREASE MY WEIGHT & HEIGHT.

      THANKS

      ASHUTOSH GUPTA

    54. Tamia says:

      Hi,

      I’m just wondering but what happens when you eat a lot of ice everyday. My daughter eats about 3 cups of ice everyday and I’m worried that she might have anemia. What should I do?

      Please Respond,

      Tamia Bonville

    55. Colleen says:

      I am 31 weeks pregnant, I’ve been told to take an iron pill to help with my iron levels but it makes me vomit more then I already am, so I can’t imagine this is helping. If you could send me good food ideas for a high iron diet that would be helpful. I have been extreemly sick thoughout my pregnancy and think changing my diet might be my only way to raise my iron levels. Any suggestions would be greatly helpful and appreciated!!! my email is clemens0894@gmail.com
      Thank you! Colleen

    56. kk says:

      IF TOFU AND SOY MILK IS TOXIC, THEN THE CHINESE WOULD HAVE DIED OUT A LONGTIME AGO

    57. bhumika says:

      i have one question about my iron realated.which food broccoli or spinach gives high iron. give me replyif it is possible.

    58. Oodora says:

      I believe spinach, “however, spinach contains iron absorption-inhibiting substances, including high levels of oxalate, which can bind to the iron to form ferrous oxalate and render much of the iron in spinach unusable by the body.”

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