Iron Rich Foods
Iron is one of the minerals key to maintaining a healthy immune system and natural energy.
As iron isn’t something our bodies produce naturally, despite being such an important nutrient, we have to find foods and/or drinks high in iron to take in all of our iron requirement. The amount we need is quite a lot too: 8.7mg a day for men over 18, 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50 and 8.7mg a day for women over 50.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to eat to make sure you’re getting enough iron, so here at Spatone, we’ve come up with all our favourite iron-rich foods for you to choose from.
FRUIT & VEG
If you’re avoiding meat for dietary reasons, there are plenty of other sources of iron in fruit and vegetable form. If you’re a vegan, be extra mindful of your iron and B12 requirements as these can be difficult to obtain through a plant-based diet due to the lower bioavailability and poor absorption of iron from these foods. Vegans should ensure they consume Vitamin C with plant-based options of iron-rich foods, to help with absorption.
Strawberries are the golden tier of iron-rich fruits, as not only do they contain iron but also Vitamin C which helps with the absorption of iron. They’re rich in antioxidants, as well as containing good amounts of folate (Vitamin B9) and potassium which is also fantastic for natural energy. Try them on your breakfast cereal, in a healthy dessert or whipped up in delicious summer smoothie.
A lovely seasonal summer snack for a sunny day, watermelon is another one of the gold star iron-rich fruits. Like strawberries, it contains iron and Vitamin C to help absorb that iron. As an added benefit, watermelon is one of the best Vitamin A foods too (due to the beta-carotene the causes the pretty pink colour!). Vitamin A is brilliant for the immune system as well as keeping your eyes and skin healthy. Why not try blending up your watermelon with ginger and lemon for a super refreshing juice with an extra immunity kick?
Dried fruit is a great iron-rich snack to have and has the most iron out of all the fruit we have suggested here. This is because the dehydration process means their vitamin and mineral content is more concentrated. Prunes, raisins, and apricots are some of the best dried fruit to have in terms of iron content. Apricots contain a whopping 6.3 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, raisins come a close second with an equally huge 2.6 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, and prunes have 0.93 milligrams. The only thing to watch out for is the sugar content in dried fruit as the lack of water also means high sugar content, so keep your portion sizes small.
It’s an extremely nutritious food. As well as iron, it’s a good source of fibre and protein, as well as containing potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium and the vitamins A, C, E, K and a good array of B vitamins. Who knew green vegetables could be that packed with health! Steaming is the best way to cook broccoli to retain all its goodness but roasting it with a pinch of salt is a delicious way to serve it on the side. It’s a great addition to a stir fry or a Thai Green Curry. Broccoli contains 2.7 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Spinach is probably one of the most well know iron-rich vegetables. Remember Popeye, who would eat cans and cans of spinach to make him strong?! It wasn’t just a funny storyline, spinach really is full of iron. In fact, raw spinach contains 2.7 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, as well as being rich in Vitamin C, which as you know by now helps to absorb the iron. It’s also one of the best Vitamin D foods. We like spinach with mushrooms on rye toast for a wholesome breakfast.
Red meat is probably the most renowned of the iron-rich foods, and for good reason. 100 grams of ground beef contains 2.7 milligrams of iron. Lean red meat is the best thing to get to avoid the health issues of fat. A lean steak with roasted broccoli would make for a delicious iron-rich dinner.
Sometimes known as offal, organ meats are usually discarded in the butcher’s shop, but they’re an excellent source of iron. Not only this, they’re great for protein and packed with vitamin A, B12 and folate. Try making a slow cooked offal stew with lots of herbs and spices for a tender, fragrant and healthy meal.
LEGUMES & RYE BREAD
If you’re looking for foods high in iron, legumes are some of the best. Beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans: there’s plenty to choose from and they’re also a fantastic source of fibre and protein, particularly for a vegan diet. A cup of cooked lentils has 6.6 milligrams of iron, and chickpeas, kidney beans and butter beans are good options too, with 2 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
This dark, wheat free bread has been associated with many health benefits, and it’s a brilliant option for daily iron intake. It contains 2.8 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, as well as being high in fibre and considered to affect your blood sugar levels less than white bread.