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Guide to Iron-Rich Foods for a Healthy Diet.

Iron is essential for various bodily functions, from oxygen transport to energy production. Including iron-rich foods in your diet is crucial for maintaining optimal health. Lack of iron in the body may lead to iron deficiency.  In 2023, the prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia in men under 50 was 1%. In women of childbearing age in the United States, the rate is 10% due to losses from menstruation, while 9% of children ages 12 to 36 months were iron-deficient. (1)

Here are twelve nutrient-packed foods to boost your iron intake:

1. Lean Red Meat

  • Iron Content: Beef and lamb are rich in heme iron, offering approximately 3.5 mg per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Red meat provides easily absorbable iron, supporting healthy energy and well-being.

2. Shellfish

  • Iron Content: Clams, oysters, and mussels are iron powerhouses, with cooked clams offering about 7 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Shellfish are high in iron and provide essential nutrients like zinc and vitamin B12 for immune support and energy production.

3. Spinach

  • Iron Content: Spinach is a plant-based iron source, providing approximately 2.7 mg of iron in a 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Spinach is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, promoting overall health and immunity.

4. Legumes

  • Iron Content: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas offer about 3.3 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Legumes are packed with fibre, protein, and essential nutrients, supporting heart health and digestion.

5. Pumpkin Seeds

  • Iron Content: Pumpkin seeds deliver around 7.5 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: In addition to iron, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants, supporting immune function and reducing inflammation.

6. Quinoa

  • Iron Content: Quinoa provides roughly 4.6 mg of iron in a 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Quinoa is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids, fibre, and nutrients for muscle and bone health.

7. Fortified Cereals

  • Iron Content: Many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron, offering up to 100 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Fortified cereals are a convenient option to boost iron levels, especially for those with dietary restrictions.

8. Tofu

  • Iron Content: Tofu provides about 2.7 mg of iron in a 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Tofu is a versatile plant-based protein source, suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

9. Prunes

  • Iron Content: Prunes offer approximately 0.9 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Prunes are rich in fibre, potassium, and vitamin K, supporting digestive health and bone strength.

10. Dark Chocolate

  • Iron Content: Dark chocolate contains around 11 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids and iron, supporting heart health and energy levels.

11. Poultry

  • Iron Content: Poultry such as chicken and turkey provide heme iron, offering approximately 1.5 mg per 100-gram serving.
  • Benefits: Poultry is a lean protein source rich in iron, supporting muscle growth and immune function.

There is an important factor in dietary iron intake – a difference between heme and non-heme iron. Incorporating these iron-rich foods into your diet ensures you meet your body’s iron needs for optimal health and vitality. Whether you prefer meat- or plant-based options, plenty of delicious choices keep you iron-strong and thriving.


Iron Deficiency Anemia, Matthew J. Warner; Muhammad T. Kamran. National Library of Medicine. Last Update: August 7, 2023. Last accessed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448065/

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