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10 Iron Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet

By Dr Prachi Garg +2 more

The deficiency of iron can cause anaemia and leave us feeling fatigued most of the time. It can also cause dizziness, lightheadedness, poor concentration, irritability, paleness of skin, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, brittle nails, damaged hair etc.


Iron is a mineral found in our body. It is present in haemoglobin (Hb) in the red blood cells (RBCs) while in muscles it is present in myoglobin. Haemoglobin transports oxygen in our blood from the lungs to different parts of our body. [1]

Myoglobin helps to store oxygen which can be used up when required by our body. [2]

Did You Know?

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Iron

  • Men and post-menopausal women – 8mg/day [3]
  • Premenopausal women – 18mg/day [4]
  • Pregnant women – 27mg/day [5]
  • Lactating women – 9 mg/day [6]
  • Infants and children [7]
  • 7 to 12 months is 11 mg/day
  • 1 to 3 years is 7 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years is 10 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years is 8 mg/day
  • 14 to 18 years is 11mg/day for boys and 15 mg/day for girls

10 Iron-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet Are

I would recommend incorporating eggs in your diet to give your body the iron it needs. These versatile little powerhouses not only provide a wide range of essential nutrients but also contain a good amount of iron. Just one large egg (100g) contains approximately 1.75 mg of iron, which can cover your daily requirement.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

1. Spinach:

Spinach is a very good source of iron for vegetarians. 100 grams of spinach contains 2.7 mg of iron. It also contains 28 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps iron to be absorbed better in our body.

Cooking spinach with tomatoes also helps in better absorption of the iron present in spinach by our body. [8]

Apart from iron and vitamin C, spinach also contains vitamin A, K and minerals like magnesium and manganese. It is good for our eyes and bones and is also used to regulate blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It also reduces the risk of cancer and relieves constipation. [9]

2. Shellfish:

Different varieties of shellfish are rich sources of iron. 100 grams of clam contains 13.98 mg of iron while oyster contains 5.1 mg of iron. Blue mussel, shrimp and lobster are also good sources of iron. [10]

Shellfish are low in calories and rich in proteins, good fats, vitamins and minerals.

Shellfish are good for our heart, brain and weight loss. They are also helpful in building immunity.

3. Tofu:

Tofu is a soybean-based food. 100 grams of tofu contains 5.4 mg of iron. Tofu is also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin B1, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc etc.

Tofu maintains cholesterol levels and bone health. [11] It reduces the risk of anaemia and cancer.

4. Poultry, Red Meat & Fish:

If you are a non-vegetarian, healthy, low-calorie recipes using seafood, poultry and red meat abound on the internet. Making these a regular part of your diet will ensure your haemoglobin (Hb) levels will stay above average.

Researchers have found that iron deficiency risks are lesser in people who consume poultry, meat, and fish regularly. [12]

100 grams of red meat like ground beef contains 2.7 mg of iron. It is also very rich in B complex vitamins, selenium, zinc, and protein which are all very beneficial for the overall health of the human body.100 grams of chicken contains 1.3 mg of iron.

Fishes like tuna, sardines and mackerel are a rich source of iron.

5. Whole Grains:

Whole grains are also good sources of iron. [13]

Wheat, millets, oats, brown rice, and quinoa all contain iron.

100 gms of oats contain 4.7 mg of iron while quinoa contains 1.5 mg of iron. Wheat has 3.9 mg of iron per 100 gms while millet contains 3 mg.

Whole grains also contain fibre, proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Whole grains improve our digestion and may reduce the risk of heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer etc.

6. Dark Chocolate:

Who said that iron-rich food has to be boring. Dark chocolate may satisfy our taste buds and also add to the iron content of our body. 100 grams of dark chocolate contains 6.32 mg of iron.

Eating a bit of dark chocolate after every meal goes a long way in adding to our body’s iron reserves but it should not be overdone as it has a good amount of calories as well.

Dark chocolate also contains good fats, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium etc. It helps in keeping our cholesterol levels low and reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks. [14]

Read More: 5 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

7. Legumes:

Legumes like peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and different types of beans, all are good sources of iron.

Beans contain around 5 mg of iron per 100 grams while peas contain around 1.5 mg. Chickpea has 6.2 mg of iron per 100 grams while lentils have 3.3 mg.

Legumes are also rich in protein, fibre, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, zinc etc. Consumption of legumes may protect us from heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation. [15]

8. Seeds:

Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds are rich in iron. 100 grams of pumpkin seeds contain 3.3 mg of iron while sesame seeds contain 14.6 mg and flaxseeds contain 5.6 mg of iron.

They are also rich in calories, good fats, vitamin A, folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium and various phytosterols. They have innumerable health benefits when consumed regularly.

9. Nuts:

Nuts like pistachios, cashews, and almonds are good sources of iron. [16]

100 grams of pistachios contain 3.9 mg of iron while cashews contain 6.7 mg of iron. Almonds contain around 5.4 mg iron per 100 grams.

Nuts are rich in proteins, good fats and several other vitamins and minerals. They may reduce the risk of cancer and heart diseases and help in weight loss.

10. Dried fruits:

Dried fruits like prunes, raisins, and apricots are good sources of iron. 100 grams of prunes contain 0.93 mg of iron while raisins contain 2.6 mg of iron. Apricots have 6.3 mg of iron per 100 grams.

Consuming these dried fruits daily helps to combat iron deficiency. [17]

Prunes also help in digestion and lower cholesterol levels in our body. Raisins are also good for digestion and make our bones strong. Apricots are rich in antioxidants and promote eye, skin and good health.

Also Read: Do Eggs Have Carbs? Debunking Nutritional Myths

Factors Affecting the Absorption of Iron:

I would suggest adding white mushrooms to your meals if you’re looking to boost your iron intake in a delicious and nutritious way. A cooked cup of white mushrooms (about 156 grams) contains approximately 2.7 mg of iron.

Dr. Smita Barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.
  • Consuming iron-rich foods in combination with foods rich in vitamin C like lemons, oranges, tomatoes etc. increases the absorption of iron.
  • Cooking our food in iron cookware specially cast iron pans increases the iron content of the food.
  • Having tea or coffee along with meals reduces the absorption of iron by 70 to 80 per cent.
  • Soaking and sprouting improve the absorption of iron in the body.
  • Heme iron obtained from animal sources like meat, poultry, seafood is better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant sources like grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables etc.

Also Read: Why Do I Have a Metallic Taste in My Mouth? Unearthing Possible Causes

Side effects of excessive iron intake:

I would recommend incorporating palm hearts into your meals if you’re looking to increase your iron intake. In just one cup(146g) of palm hearts, you can find approximately 4.6 mg of iron.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Iron overload disorders are a group of medical conditions that cause excessive iron accumulation in the body. Hereditary diseases like hemochromatosis are a genetic condition that makes a person’s body absorb excessive iron from food and drinks.  

The human body is unable to excrete excess iron, which leads to this iron storage in various organs of the body, like the pancreas, liver and heart, which may give rise to organ failure and damage. Damage of the pancreas can cause diabetes, while excessive iron in the body if goes untreated, can turn the colour of the skin bronze.

There are mainly two types of iron overload diseases: primary hemochromatosis (genetic mutation) and secondary hemochromatosis (results of a condition). While the former kind of iron overload disease can happen if the family carries the same, the secondary condition can result from some kind of anaemia like thalassemia, chronic liver disease or some alcohol-related liver disease.  

With early diagnosis and treatment, a person can expect a normal life. However, regular check-ups and blood tests may go on for life. The treatment depends upon the severity of the person, but if left untreated, it can increase the complications and add on to other medical situations.

I would suggest eating broccoli if you are looking to boost your iron intake. Just one cup of chopped broccoli (156g) contains 1 mg of iron. So, if you’re looking for a delicious and healthy way to increase your iron intake, make sure to include broccoli in your meals.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Best Foods for Anaemia

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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