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12 Healthy Iron-Rich Foods You Can Add To Your Diet

Iron is one of the most essential elements needed by human physiology to create hemoglobin. It is the prime component of red blood cells responsible to carry oxygen to every nook and corner of our body. It also carries away carbon dioxide from our system to the lungs for exhalation.

What foods are high in iron?

Every day, an average adult needs 18 mg of iron for various requirements. Another interesting fact is that our body stores iron and the absorbed amount depend on it. If the proper amount of iron is not consumed, it can cause anemia, unusual tiredness, paleness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, palpitations, damaged hair, dry skin, soreness of tongue and mouth, restless leg, brittle fingernails, cold feet and hands, frequent infections, etc.

Let us find out the top 12 foods high in iron you can add to your daily diet.

The ideal source among the iron rich foods for non-vegetarians is fish. Eating 85 grams of canned tuna will deliver 1.4 mg of iron. It is also good for your heart as many species contain omega-3-fatty acids. Tuna also contains selenium, niacin, and vitamin B-12.

Dark chocolate is a brilliant source of iron one can consume as a snack. If you are hungry, you can convert it into a great iron source by adding an ounce of dark chocolate. It will deliver 3.4 mg iron, almost 19% of the daily requirement. The same serving will also deliver 15% of the magnesium and 56% of the copper’s daily requirement.

This is one of the soy-based iron-rich foods. A half-cup of tofu (126 grams) can deliver nearly 19% of the iron requirement. It also provides 22 grams of protein. It is high in isoflavones which help to increase insulin sensitivity, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Broccoli has become the part and parcel of modern household kitchens. Only one cup of broccoli can deliver 1 mg of iron (6% of the daily requirement). It also delivers 112% of Vitamin C of the daily requirement. Apart from adding fiber, it also adds folate and Vitamin K. it belongs to the cruciferous family in which cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc belong.

Turkey, especially the darker version, is one of the best foods high in iron. 100 grams of dark turkey can deliver 1.43 mg of iron, 8% of the daily requirement. The same amount of white turkey supplies only 0.7 mg of iron. 100 grams of turkey also delivers 28 grams of protein, Vitamin Bs and many other minerals such as zinc, selenium, etc.

Quinoa, a pseudocereal, is an exceptional source of iron. 185 grams of quinoa can delivers 2.8 mg iron, nearly 16% of the daily requirement. Apart from iron, it also delivers folate, copper, magnesium, manganese, etc. Adding quinoa to a diet is ideal for those who are suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent snack. 28 grams of this seed can deliver up to 2.5 mg leveling to 14% of the daily requirement. It is also a good source of zinc, manganese, magnesium, and Vitamin K. The same quantity can deliver almost 40% of the daily requirement of magnesium helping you to fight against diabetes, insulin resistance, and depression.

100 grams of ground beef serving can deliver 2.7 mg, 15% of the total iron requirement we need daily. It is also a good source of zinc, selenium, protein, Vitamin Bs. Eating fish, poultry or meat regularly will not cause iron deficiency.

The common legumes we consume are lentils, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and peas. A cup of lentils (198 grams), well cooked, will deliver 6.6 mg of iron. It accounts to 37% of the daily requirement of iron. Black beans, kidney beans, and navy beans are also ideal to consume.

Brain, liver, kidney, and heart are the common organ meat consumed across the world. 100 grams of beef liver is capable of delivering 6.5 mg iron, nearly 36% of the daily necessity. Organ meats also deliver 1049% of Vitamin A’s daily requirement in every 100-gram serving.

A 100-gram serving of raw spinach will deliver 2.7 mg iron equivalent to 115% of the daily requirement. It also contains Vitamin C which helps in iron absorption.

Who does not like to eat shellfish? It is good only if you are not allergic. A 100-gram serving of clams can deliver 3 mg iron equivalent to 17% of the daily requirement. The type of iron supplied by shellfish is similar to heme iron. This is why it gets easily absorbed and assimilated.

Frequently asked questions

Inadequate intake, internal bleeding, pregnancy, absorption inability, etc can cause iron deficiency. In most cases, the lack of proper nutrition and lifestyle choices are the prime reason.

Iron-fortified fruit juices are ideal to drink. Avoid drinking coffee and tea as both the drinks mess with iron absorption.

Banana, apple, and pomegranates are the best foods high in iron.

If you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency, you will have to eat iron-rich foods. You can also take iron supplements. It will take 14 to 21 days to reach the normal level of iron for a patient.

Some patients have reported improper sleep patterns but there is no such scientific evidence to prove it. On resuming the normal level, iron will help people suffering from breathing issues to sleep well.

Mild anemia causes weakness, fatigue, etc. Chronic anemia can cause muscular cramps and breathing issues. There is no evidence of joint pain due to iron deficiency.


Add these foods high in iron to your daily diet and maintain the required level of iron in your body. You will enjoy a healthier level of hemoglobin resulting in proper breathing, sleep patterns, etc. Keep your blood circulatory system at its best by enjoying these iron-rich foods.

Amanda Barrell
Amanda B

Amanda is a freelance health and medical education journalist, editor, and copywriter. She has worked on projects for pharma, charities, and agencies, and has written extensively for patients, healthcare professionals, and the general public.

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