Food containing iron helps, among other things, to transport oxygen in the body and also has other essential functions. Read here which foods contain the most iron.

 

About Iron In Foods

Iron is one of the most essential, vital trace elements that our body needs. Since the body cannot produce it, we are dependent on taking it in with food.

The main tasks of iron are:

  • Supply of each cell with energy
  • Assistance in the production of hormones and the formation of enzymes
  • The oxygen transport in the blood
  • Support of the defense against infections and strengthening of the immune system
  • The storage of oxygen in the muscles

About 60 percent is getting found in the blood, 25 percent is getting stored in the liver, spleen and bone marrow, and another 15 percent is bound to muscle protein and enzymes.

 

The Best Foods High In Iron

Spices like thyme and marjoram also contain much iron. Vegetables should be getting prepared fresh, if possible, only blanched or eaten raw. It is advisable to remove the thick ribs from lettuce from the greenhouse because pollutants are pesticides that accumulate there more often. Frozen vegetables are often better than old goods from the vegetable counter. 

Animal iron sources contain bivalent iron called haem iron. The body can better absorb it than the trivalent iron contained in plant foods. They are called non-haem iron, which must first be getting converted to bivalent iron in the body. Vitamin C is involved in this conversion, which is why the absorption of iron from plant iron sources can be getting improved by the simultaneous intake of vitamin C, like a glass of orange juice. Muesli, oatmeal and other cereal flakes, also provide more iron with oranges. Fruit rich in vitamin C like oranges, kiwi, strawberries, currants is an ideal dessert. 

Substances that improve absorption are also organic acids, such as citric acid and lactic acid are getting contained in yogurt. In contrast, materials in black tea, coffee, milk, or milk products contained with calcium salts. Spinach and rhubarb contain oxalic acidPhosphates can be getting obtained from cola and egg yolk. Alginic acid is abundant in pudding powder. Packet soups, rice, cereals, legumes, and soya, include phytic acid or phytates

Don’t forget: Certain antibiotics and medicines for heartburn slightly reduce the intake. 

These food companions inhibit absorption mainly by forming insoluble compounds that cannot be utilized by the body. In a balanced diet, however, inhibiting and promoting factors balance each other out. It is essential not to consume foods that inhibit absorption at the same time as iron-rich foods. The intake inhibiting substances contained in legumes and cereals can be getting reduced by specific preparation techniquessoaking, or germination.

List of foods with high iron content are:

  • Meat, especially red meat.
  • Soybean flour provides much iron.
  • Fish like sardines.
  • Pulses such as beans. 
  • Whole-grain cereal products such as oat flakes and muesli
  • Pasta.
  • Bread.
  • Carrots, sauerkraut, and tomatoes.
  • Cocoa powder.
  • Light green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and avocado.
  • Brewer’s yeast.
  • Nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
  • Dried fruit.

 

Top Ten Best Foods High In Iron

1. Meat

Meat is a food with high iron content.
Meat is a food with high iron content. / Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Meat is getting considered to be the best supplier of iron because the body can best utilize the iron from animal foods. Offal is ideal because it has the highest iron content. But offal such as the heart and kidneys are not for everyone. Apart from that, you should not eat them regularly either, as they can contain harmful substances in large quantities.

Which meat you choose is up to you. As far as the iron content is concerned, there are hardly any differences.

  • Pork fillet: 1,5 mg per 100 g
  • Pork escalope, comb: 1,7 mg per 100 g
  • Pork liver: 17 mg per 100 g
  • Beef fillet: 2,3 mg per 100 g
  • Minced beef: 3 mg per 100 g
  • Beef prime rib: 1,9 mg per 100 g
  • Beef kidney: 9,5 mg per 100 g
  • Veal breast, knuckle: 3 mg per 100 g
  • Veal cutlet: 2,1 mg per 100 g
  • Veal liver: 7,9 mg per 100 g

 

2. Legumes

Legumes are a portion of food with high iron content.
Legumes are a portion of food with high iron content. / Image by Ariel Núñez Guzmán from Pixabay

Whether red, brown, or green; lentils are excellent sources of iron, and as they are purely vegetable, they are especially popular with vegans and vegetarians. On average, 100 grams of dried lentils contain about eight milligrams of iron. The canned version, on the other hand, contains only 2.4 milligrams, so it is better to use the dried ones.

Other legumes such as chickpeas, beans, and soybeans also contain plenty of iron:

  • Tofu: 3.7 mg per 100 g
  • White beans: 6.5 mg per 100 g
  • Soybeans: 6,6 mg per 100 g
  • Chickpeas: 6,0 mg per 100 g

 

3. Seafood

Kinds of seafood are high in iron content.
Kinds of seafood are high in iron content. / Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Oysters, mussels, shrimps, and types of these kinds of seafood are also good sources of iron.

  • Crabs: 1,7 mg per 100 g
  • Oysters: 3.1 mg per 100 g
  • Shrimps: 1,5 mg per 100 g
  • Deep-water shrimps: 5 mg per 100 g
  • Mussels: 4,2 mg per 100 g

 

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is food with high iron content.
Oatmeal is food with high iron content. / Image by Tabeajaichhalt from Pixabay

Oatmeal is also a portion of excellent iron food. One hundred grams come to 5.5 milligrams of iron. Eat cereal for breakfast to get a good part of iron in the morning for the body!

Other cereals with high iron content:

  • Green spelt: 4,4 mg per 100 g
  • Wheat: 3.2 mg per 100 g
  • Barley: 2,8 mg per 100 g
  • Rye: 2,8 mg per 100 g

 

5. Poultry Foods

Poultry foods are rich in iron.
Poultry foods are rich in iron. / Image by Michael Shivili from Pixabay

One often thinks of beef when it comes to meat and iron content. But poultry also contains some iron. For example, 100 grams of the roast chicken leg comes to 1.8 milligrams of iron. The liver has more iron content; 100 grams contain about 7.4 milligrams of iron.

Other types of poultry:

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  • Turkey: 1,5 mg per 100 g
  • Goose: 1,9 mg per 100 g
  • Duck: 2.5 mg per 100 g

 

6. Chanterelles

Chanterelles are rich in iron.
Chanterelles are rich in iron. / Image by Herbert Aust from Pixabay

The brown mushrooms are excellent sources of iron. One hundred grams contain about 6.5 milligrams of iron. With the dried variety, the value even increases; 100 g of dried chanterelles contains 17.2 milligrams of iron.

Other types of mushrooms cannot compete with this. Different mushroom types contain, on average, only about 1 milligram of iron.

 

7. Black Salsify

Black salsify is rich in iron.
Black salsify is rich in iron. / Image by Maria Gutebring from Pixabay

Black salsifies also deserve a regular place on our plates, because fresh they are one of the best sources of iron for vegetables. One hundred grams have about 3.3 milligrams of iron.

Other iron-rich vegetables are:

  • Lamb’s lettuce: 2 mg per 100 g
  • Purslane: 3.6, mg per 100 g

 

8. Wholemeal Rye Bread

Wholemeal rye bread is high in iron.
Wholemeal rye bread is high in iron. / Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

A slice of bread can help to fill our iron stores. But only if it is wholemeal bread. You won’t get far with a croissant. One hundred grams of wholemeal rye bread contains 2 milligrams of iron.

Other types of bread:

  • Wholemeal wheat bread: 2.0 mg per 100 g
  • Graham bread: 1.6 mg per 100 g
  • Pumpernickel: 1.9 mg per 100 g

 

9. Millet

Millet is a food with high iron content.
Millet is a food with high iron content. / Image by Aviavlad from Pixabay

Millet tastes wonderfully nutty and is excellent thanks to its high iron content. One hundred grams of millet contains 7 milligrams of iron.

You can prepare millet just as quickly and efficiently as couscous or bulgur. Eat millet as a side dish with vegetables, meat, or fish.

Besides millet, two other pseudo-cereals belong to the group of iron-containing foods:

  • Amaranth: 9 mg per 100 g
  • Quinoa: 8 mg per 100 g

 

10. Spinach

Spinach has a high iron content.
Spinach has a high iron content. / Image by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay

Spinach was long regarded as the best iron supplier par excellence until it turned out that the green vegetable is not quite as rich in iron.

If it is about food containing iron, spinach should not be missing. After all, it contains about 3.4 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.

 

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Table Of Foods High In Iron 

Meat and Sausage

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Blood sausage 30 50g
Liver of pork 18 83g
Beef Ham 10 150g
Calf’s liver 7,5 200g
Liver Sausage 3 200g
Beef 2,1 714g
Veal 2 750g
Pork 1,4 1.100g
Ham 1,1 1.360g
Chicken 0,7 2.200g

 

Grain and cereal products

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Wheat bran 15 100g
Millet flakes 9 160g
Wheat germs 7,6 197g
Oat flakes, green spelt 4,2 360g
Buckwheat 3,5 428g
Rye flour 2,1 714g
Whole rice 1,7 880g
Rye Bread 1,7 880g
Wheat flour 1,5 1000g
Rice parboiled 1,4 1070g
Rusk 1,3 1150g
White bread 1,2 1250g
Wheat semolina 1,1 1360g
Rice peeled 0,6 2500g

 

Nuts and Seeds

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Pumpkin seeds 11,2 170g
Pine nuts 9,2 163g
Almond 4,2 360g
Hazelnuts 3,7 400g
Walnuts 2,5 600g
Peanuts 2,4 625g

 

Fruits, Fruit Juices, Dried Fruit

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Raisins, dried plums 2,3 650g
Blueberries, lemons 0,5 3000g
Apricots, strawberries, cherries 0,4 3750g
Kiwi, tangerines, peaches 0,4 3750g
Grapes, bananas 0,4 3750g
Pineapple, plums, rhubarb 0,3 5000g
Apples, pears, melons 0,2 7500g
Oranges 0,1 15000g

 

Vegetables, Potatoes, Legumes

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Dried soybeans 9,7 154g
Lenses dried 8 187g
Dried white beans 7 215g
Dried chickpeas 6,1 245g
Tofu 5,4 270g
Black salsify 3,3 450g
Spinach 2,7 555g
Peas green 1,9 790g
Lettuce, green beans 1 1500g
Mushroom, porcini mushrooms 1 1500g
Leeks, asparagus 0,9 1666g
Cauliflower, kohlrabi 0,5 3000g
Red cabbage, sauerkraut 0,5 3000g
Tomatoes 0,5 3750g
Potatoes 0,3 5000g

 

Fish and Seafood

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Oysters 5,8 260g
Oil sardines 2,5 600g
Pollock 0,2 7500g

 

Eggs, Milk, Dairy Products

Foods Iron content (in mg) per 100 g* Amount needed to add 15mg iron.
Egg Yolk 5,5 272g
Eggs (100g = 2 pieces) 1,8 830g
Soy milk 0,4 3750g
Semi-hard cheese 0,3 5000g
Soft cheese 0,2 7500g
Milk, yogurt, cream 0,1 15000g
Protein 0,1 15000g

 

The recommended daily intake of iron in foods

Food experts recommend different reference values for men, women, and risk groups such as pregnant women, children, and the elderly:

  • From the age of 50 onwards, the value for both women and men settles at 10 milligrams per day
  • Women should take 15 milligrams per day until menopause
  • Pregnant women are getting recommended to have a very high iron level – 30 milligrams per day
  • Breastfeeding women should take 20 milligrams per day
  • Children up to 10 years of age are getting recommended to take 10 milligrams/day – no distinction is made between the sexes here
  • Men up to 10 milligrams per day

 

The best combination that increases iron absorption

In principle, animal iron, especially from red meat, can be better absorbed and utilized by the body.

Due to their lower bioavailability like how much the body can absorb iron, plant foods can hardly keep up with this, although their free iron content is much higher. But we cannot eat meat every day. So what can we do?

The solution is to combine plant and animal iron at every meal cleverly – this tactic makes it easy to meet iron requirements. 

Delicious combination to increase iron absorption:

  • Wholemeal noodles with tomato sauce, fried chicken cubes, and spinach
  • Porridge made from oat and millet flakes mixed with water. Topped with oranges, blackberries, raspberries, and linseed
  • Amaranth kidney bean burger with mango, avocado, tomato or chutney
  • Beef fillet strips with lamb’s lettuce, boiled quinoa, pomegranate seeds, peppers, avocado, and almonds
  • Omelet with spinach, chanterelles, and peppers
  • Red lentil soup with some orange juice and caramelized pumpkin seeds

 

FAQ Iron Foods and Deficiency

Where is the most iron contained?

Meat, especially dark meat, is a particularly good source of iron, as are blood sausage and liver. Various vegetables also contain a lot of iron, such as legumes like peas, beans, and lentils.

What has the highest iron in foods?

The 10 best iron sources in foods are meat, legumes, seafood, oatmeal, poultry foods, chanterelles, black salsify, wholemeal rye bread, millet, and spinach.

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What works best against iron deficiency?

Vitamin C with ascorbic acid helps to absorb more iron. Good sources of vitamin C are oranges or orange juice, broccoli, and red peppers. Meat, fish, and poultry also promote the absorption of iron from plant foods.

Does millet have much iron?

At just under 6 milligrams per 100 grams, millet is one of the top suppliers of iron compared with other cereals. Just 50 grams of millet can cover the daily iron requirement.

Does oatmeal contain iron?

Legumes are an excellent source of vegetable iron. In dried form, lentils, kidney or soybeans, white beans, and chickpeas provide an average of 4 to 5 milligrams of iron per 60-gram serving.

What are the best plant-based iron sources in foods?

These vegetable foods contain considerable amounts of iron: pumpkin seeds, amaranth, linseed, quinoa, dried lentils, pistachios, pine nuts, oat flakes, and dried apricots.

What happens when you have an iron deficiency?

If the body is not getting supplied with enough iron, a so-called iron deficiency anemia occurs. When iron deficiency occurs, transferrin can bind more iron so that the iron concentration in the blood increases as soon as iron is absorbed with food.

Is it bad if you have an iron deficiency?

The body can survive this condition to a certain extent, but if the anemia persists for an extended time, it can lead to heart muscle weakness. Long-lasting, severe anemia can even lead to death.

Is beetroot juice high in iron?

In the vernacular, beetroot juice is considered a suitable source of iron. However, the mineral is less readily available from beetroot, plum or cranberry juice than from light juices. Whether vegetarian or not - especially women, do not always absorb enough iron.

What prevents the absorption of iron?

Plant iron is not utilized by the body as well as animal iron. However, some tricks improve the absorption of plant iron: Drink a glass of orange juice with your meal, or cut peppers into your salad.

How does iron deficiency manifest itself in women?

If an iron deficiency occurs, the resulting anemia can also be externally noticeable: You get pale and dry skin, brittle fingernails, and hair loss.

What are the signs of iron deficiency?

Fatigue and exhaustion, forgetfulness and lack of concentration, reduced physical performance and shortness of breath, paleness, hair loss, brittle nails and torn corners of the mouth, susceptibility to infections, depression and anxiety, restless legs syndrome and sleep disorders.

Are you tired when you have an iron deficiency?

If you are permanently physically exhausted, this may be due to poor nutrition. Iron, in particular, is considered an essential component. A lack of iron results in a deficiency of red blood cells, which are responsible for the transport of oxygen in the body.

Why does iron deficiency lead to anemia?

Iron deficiency leads to anemia in which the cause is a disturbed formation of the red blood pigment hemoglobin due to a lack of iron. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia worldwide. Iron deficiency disrupts the production of the red blood pigment, hemoglobin.

What if hemoglobin is too low?

Lack of performance, fatigue, shortness of breath paleness, especially in the mucous membranes.

Can iron deficiency lead to headaches?

Iron deficiency is a quite common, but often neglected, cause of headache. Iron deficiency affects many people and, in many cases, remains undiscovered for a long time.

What is the optimal ferritin value?

Ferritin tells us how well the iron storage in our body is getting filled. So much more interesting than the current iron level in the blood. The standard value for ferritin is getting given for men between 30 - 300 µg/l and for women between 20 - 200 µg/l.

Which juices are good for blood formation?

Beetroot juice is a real iron bomb, and when drunk regularly, it has a perfect effect on the iron content in the blood. The more undiluted beetroot juice is, the more iron the drink contains.

Where's the most iron food for a vegan?

A variety of plant foods can provide us with iron, especially pulses, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are considered optimal sources. Legumes - Lentils, beans, mung beans, soybeans, white beans, and products made from them, such as tofu, chickpeas.

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Is anemia curable?

It is hardly possible to remedy the already existing deficiency by diet alone. Therefore, the doctor prescribes iron-containing tablets for acute anemia treatment to replenish the iron stores.

Which tea inhibits the absorption of iron?

Those who have to take them should not drink coffee or black tea for at least two hours before and after taking them. Vitamin C can significantly increase the availability of iron from plants. A glass of orange juice or fruit with meals can improve the absorption of iron.

What to consider for iron intake?

Try to eat iron foods for about an hour before breakfast—that way, the body can absorb the most of it. If you take iron at a different time of day, the last meal should have been at least two hours ago, and it should be at least an hour before the next one.

Can one get iron deficiency through stress?

People affected by iron deficiency suffer from tiredness, irritability, and headaches, among other things. Iron deficiency can also be getting caused by stress. Since the body does not produce iron itself, it must be supplied from outside, for example, in the form of iron-rich food.

 

Conclusion:

Iron-rich food is good for preventing iron deficiency. Some foods inhibit iron absorption; vitamin C improves it. Food containing iron supports the body. Iron from meat is getting utilized about three times better than iron from plant foods. The body gets only a fraction of the iron in food.

Feel free to share this article with someone who needs to eat foods with iron or has an interest in healthy living, foods nutritions, and a healthy lifestyle.

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