Iron is also an essential mineral for human health. It is a component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and pale skin.
There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal foods like meat, poultry, and fish. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods such as beans, lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals.
The body absorbs heme iron more easily than non-heme iron. Therefore, it is important to include both heme and non-heme iron sources in your diet.
Here are the top 15 iron-rich foods for a healthy and balanced diet:
Spinach is a good source of iron, vitamin C, and fiber. A cup of cooked spinach provides 1.8 milligrams of iron or 10% of the DV. Spinach can be added to salads, soups, or smoothies.
Black beans are a good source of iron, fiber, and protein. A half-cup of cooked black beans provides 1.8 milligrams of iron or 10% of the DV. Black beans can be added to soups, salads, or burritos.
Tuna is another fatty fish that is high in iron. A 3-ounce serving of cooked tuna provides 1.1 milligrams of iron or 6% of the DV. Tuna can be canned, grilled, or baked.
Beef liver is an excellent source of iron. A 3-ounce serving of cooked beef liver provides 5 milligrams of iron or 25% of the DV. Beef liver can be pan-fried, baked, or grilled.
Chicken and Turkey
Chicken and turkey are good sources of iron, especially dark meat. A 3-ounce serving of cooked chicken or turkey provides 1.5 milligrams of iron or 8% of the DV. Chicken and turkey are also good sources of protein and zinc.
Lentils are a good source of iron, fiber, and protein. A half-cup of cooked lentils provides 1.8 milligrams of iron or 10% of the DV. Lentils can be added to soups, salads, or stews.
Tofu is a good source of iron, protein, and calcium. A half-cup of tofu provides 3.4 milligrams of iron or 18% of the DV. Tofu can be used in a variety of dishes, such as stir-fries, salads, and sandwiches.
Fortified cereals are a good source of iron, especially for people who don’t eat meat. A bowl of fortified cereal provides 1-2 milligrams of iron or 5–10% of the DV. Fortified cereals are a convenient way to get extra iron in your diet.
Dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes, and apricots, are good sources of iron. A half-cup of dried fruits provides 1-2 milligrams of iron or 5–10% of the DV. Dried fruits can be eaten as a snack or added to cereals, yogurt, or oatmeal.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds, are good sources of iron. A one-ounce serving of nuts or seeds provides 0.5–1 milligrams of iron or 2-5% of the DV. Nuts and seeds can be eaten as a snack or added to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal.
Salmon is a fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids and iron. A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon provides 1.4 milligrams of iron or 7% of the DV. Salmon can be grilled, baked, or smoked.
Dark chocolate is a good source of iron. A 1-ounce bar of dark chocolate (70% cocoa) provides 1.6 milligrams of iron or 8% of the DV. Dark chocolate can be eaten as a snack or added to desserts.
Oats are a good source of iron and fiber. A 1-cup serving of cooked oats provides 1.4 milligrams of iron or 7% of the DV. Oats can be eaten as a hot cereal, added to yogurt, or baked into bread and muffins.
These bivalve mollusks are one of the best sources of iron, with a 3-ounce serving providing 3 milligrams, or 17% of the Daily Value (DV). They’re also a good source of zinc, vitamin B12, and selenium.
Beef, lamb, and pork are all good sources of iron. A 3-ounce serving of cooked beef provides 2 milligrams of iron or 11% of the DV. Red meat is also a good source of protein, zinc, and vitamin B12.
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.