Todaywe are going to be discussing about the complete list of iron richfoods you should know about. But first, let us try to understand howour body uses iron in food before proceeding to listing the iron richfoods and their iron content.
Ironis a mineral that serves several important functions, its main beingto carry oxygen throughout your body and making red blood cells.
It’s an essentialnutrient, meaning you must get it from food. The recommended dailyintake (RDI) is 18 mg.
Interestingly, theamount your body absorbs is partly based on how much you have stored.
A deficiency can occurif your intake is too low to replace the amount you lose every day.
Iron deficiency cancause anemia and lead to symptoms like fatigue. Menstruating womenwho don’t consume iron-rich foods are at a particularly high risk ofdeficiency.
Luckily, there areplenty of good food choices to help you meet your daily iron needs.
HowYour Body Uses Iron in Food
When you eat food withiron, iron is absorbed into your body mainly through the upper partof your small intestine.
There are two forms ofdietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin.It is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin,such as red meats, fish, and poultry (meat, poultry, and seafoodcontain both heme and non-heme iron). Your body absorbs the most ironfrom heme sources. Most nonheme iron is from plant sources.
Now let us look at thelist of iron rich foods that we have below:
Shellfish is tasty andnutritious. All shellfish is high in iron, but clams, oysters andmussels are particularly good sources.
For instance, a3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of clams may contain up to 28 mg ofiron, which is 155% of the RDI.
However, the ironcontent of clams is highly variable, and some types may contain muchlower amounts.
The iron in shellfishis heme iron, which your body absorbs more easily than the non-hemeiron found in plants.
A serving of clamsalso provides 26 grams of protein, 37% of the RDI for vitamin C and awhopping 1,648% of the RDI for vitamin B12.
In fact, all shellfishis high in nutrients and has been shown to increase the level ofheart-healthy HDL cholesterol in your blood.
Although there are legitimate concerns about mercury and toxins in certain types of fish and shellfish, the benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh the risks.
SummaryA 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of clams provides 155% of the RDI foriron. Shellfish is also rich in many other nutrients and may increase“good” HDL cholesterol levels in your blood.
Spinach provides many health benefits for very few calories.
3.5 ounces (100 grams)of cooked spinach contain 3.6 mg of iron, or 20% of the RDI.
Although this isnon-heme iron, which isn’t absorbed very well, spinach is also richin vitamin C.
This is important since vitamin C significantly boosts iron absorption.
Spinach is also rich in antioxidants called carotenoids that may reduce your risk of cancer, decrease inflammation and protect your eyes from disease.
Consuming spinach and other leafy greens with fat helps your body absorb the carotenoids, so make sure to eat a healthy fat like olive oil with your spinach.
SummarySpinach provides 20% of the RDI for iron per serving, along withseveral vitamins and minerals. It also contains importantantioxidants.
3.Liver and Other Organ Meats
Organ meats are extremely nutritious. Popular types include liver, kidneys, brain and heart — all of which are high in iron.
For example, a3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of beef liver contains 6.5 mg of iron,or 36% of the RDI.
Organ meats are also high in protein and rich in B vitamins, copper and selenium. Liver is especially high in vitamin A, providing an impressive 634% of the RDI per serving.
What’s more, organ meats are among the best sources of choline, an important nutrient for brain and liver health that many people don’t get enough of.
Summary Organ meats are good sources of iron, and liver contains 36% of the RDI per serving. Organ meats are also rich in many other nutrients, such as selenium, vitamin A and choline.
Legumes are loaded with nutrients.
Some of the most common types of legumes are beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas and soybeans.
They’re a great sourceof iron, especially for vegetarians. One cup (198 grams) of cookedlentils contains 6.6 mg, which is 37% of the RDI.
Legumes are also rich in folate, magnesium and potassium.
What’s more, studieshave shown that beans and other legumes can reduce inflammation inpeople with diabetes. Legumes can also decrease heart disease riskfor people with metabolic syndrome.
Additionally, legumesmay help you lose weight. They’re very high in soluble fiber, whichcan increase feelings of fullness and reduce calorie intake.
In one study, a high-fiber diet containing beans was shown to be as effective as a low-carb diet for weight loss.
In order to maximizeiron absorption, consume legumes with foods high in vitamin C, suchas tomatoes, greens or citrus fruits.
SummaryOne cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides 37% of the RDI foriron. Legumes are also high in folate, magnesium, potassium and fiberand may even aid weight loss.
Red meat is satisfying and nutritious and also one of the iron rich foods. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of ground beef contains 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the RDI.
Meat is also rich in protein, zinc, selenium and several B vitamins.
Researchers havesuggested that iron deficiency may be less likely in people who eatmeat, poultry and fish on a regular basis.
In fact, red meat isprobably the single most easily accessible source of heme iron,potentially making it an important food for people who are prone toanemia.
In one study lookingat changes in iron stores after aerobic exercise, women who consumedmeat retained iron better than those who took iron supplements.
Summary One serving of ground beef contains 15% of the RDI for iron and is one of the most easily accessible sources of heme iron. It’s also rich in B vitamins, zinc, selenium and high-quality protein.
Pumpkin seeds are atasty, portable snack.
A 1-ounce (28-gram)serving of pumpkin seeds contains 4.2 mg of iron, which is 23% of theRDI.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin K, zinc and manganese. They’re also among the best sources of magnesium, which many people are deficient in.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 37% of the RDI for magnesium, which helps reduce your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes and depression.
SummaryPumpkin seeds provide 26% of the RDI for iron per serving. They’realso a good source of several other nutrients, particularlymagnesium.
Quinoa which is also one of the iron rich foods is a popular grain known as a pseudocereal. One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa provides 2.8 mg of iron, which is 15% of the RDI.
Furthermore, quinoa contains no gluten, making it a good choice for people with celiac disease or other forms of gluten intolerance.
Quinoa is also higherin protein than many other grains, as well as rich in folate,magnesium, copper, manganese and many other nutrients.
In addition, quinoahas more antioxidant activity than many other grains. Antioxidantshelp protect your cells from the damage done by free radicals, whichare formed during metabolism and in response to stress.
Summary Quinoa provides 15% of the RDI for iron per serving. It also contains no gluten and is high in protein, folate, minerals and antioxidants.
Turkey meat is ahealthy and delicious food. It’s also a good source of ironespecially dark turkey meat.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram)portion of dark turkey meat has 2.3 mg of iron, which is 13% of theRDI.
In comparison, thesame amount of white turkey meat contains only 1.3 mg.
Turkey also packs animpressive 29 grams of protein per serving and several B vitamins andminerals, including 30% of the RDI for zinc and 58% of the RDI forselenium.
Consuming high-protein foods like turkey may aid weight loss since protein makes you feel full and increases your metabolic rate after a meal.
High protein intakecan also help prevent the muscle loss that occurs during weight lossand as part of the aging process.
SummaryTurkey provides 13% of the RDI for iron and is a good source ofseveral vitamins and minerals. Its high protein content promotesfullness, increases metabolism and prevents muscle loss.
Broccoli is incrediblynutritious. A 1-cup (156-gram) serving of cooked broccoli contains 1mg of iron, which is 6% of the RDI, making it a fairly good source.
What’s more, a servingof broccoli also packs 168% of the RDI for vitamin C, which helpsyour body absorb the iron better.
The same serving size is also high in folate and provides 6 grams of fiber, as well as some vitamin K.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage.
Cruciferous vegetables contain indole, sulforaphane and glucosinolates, which are plant compounds believed to be protective against cancer.
SummaryOne serving of broccoli provides 6% of the RDI for iron and is veryhigh in vitamins C, K and folate. It may also help reduce cancerrisk.
Tofu is a soy-based food that’s popular among vegetarians and in some Asian countries.
A half-cup (126-gram)serving provides 3.6 mg of iron, which is 19% of the RDI.
Tofu is also a goodsource of thiamine and several minerals, including calcium, magnesiumand selenium. In addition, it provides 20 grams of protein perserving.
Tofu also contains unique compounds called isoflavones, which have been linked to improved insulin sensitivity, a decreased risk of heart disease and relief from menopausal symptoms.
Summary Tofu provides 19% of the RDI for iron per serving and is rich in protein and minerals. Its isoflavones may improve heart health and relieve menopausal symptoms.
Dark chocolate as one of the iron rich foods is incredibly delicious and nutritious.
A 1-ounce (28-gram)serving contains 3.3 mg of iron, which is 19% of the RDI.
This small servingalso packs 25% and 16% of the RDIs for copper and magnesiumrespectively.
In addition, it contains prebiotic fiber, which nourishes the friendly bacteria in your gut.
A study found that cocoa powder and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity than powders and juices made from acai berries and blueberries.
Studies have alsoshown that chocolate has beneficial effects on cholesterol and mayreduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
However, not allchocolate is created equal. It’s believed that compounds calledflavanols are responsible for chocolate’s benefits, and the flavanolcontent of dark chocolate is much higher than that of milk chocolate.
Therefore, it’s bestto consume chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa to get the maximumbenefits.
SummaryA small serving of dark chocolate contains 19% of the RDI for ironalong with several minerals and prebiotic fiber that promotes guthealth.
Iron is an important mineral that must be consumed regularly as your body cannot produce it on its own thereby making the consumption of Iron Rich Foods compulsory for our well-being.
Yet it should be noted that some people need to limit their intake of red meat and other foods high in heme iron.
However, most peopleare easily able to regulate the amount they absorb from food.
Remember that if you don’t eat meat or fish, you can boost absorption by including a source of vitamin C when eating plant sources of iron.