Top 10 Foods Rich in Iron

Foods Rich In Iron

Image: Shutterstock

Did you know that nearly 80% of people suffer from anaemia? Symptoms of anaemia include low energy, pale skin, peeling nails and dizziness. This blood disorder is caused due to reduced haemoglobin levels in the blood. Anemia results from the deficiency of iron, reduced production of red blood cells and inability of the upper gastrointestinal tract to absorb dietary iron. Iron is involved in haemoglobin formation and the production of red blood cells. It comes under the category of vital minerals needed by our body. The recommended daily allowance of iron according to the Health Link British Columbia is 8 mg for males between the ages of 19 to 49 and 18 mg for females of the same age group. Pregnant ladies require a daily intake of 27 mgs of iron.


The deficiency of iron can easily be cured by increasing your intake of iron rich foods. Iron obtained from foods falls into two categories – heme iron obtained from animal sources and non-heme iron obtained from plant sources. While heme iron can be easily absorbed, non-heme iron requires Vitamin C for proper absorption. Another way to boost your intake of iron is to combine iron rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods. Given below are some foods that are the best dietary sources of iron and should form part of your diet.

List of Iron Rich Foods:

1. Molluscs:

MolluscsMolluscs like clams, mussels and oysters are some of the richest sources of iron among the sea foods. Twenty small clams contain 53 mg of iron, contributing as much as 295% of the daily value (DV) of this mineral. Oysters, mussels and octopus are also significant contributors of iron, providing 57%, 45% and 32% of the DV respectively. If you are a sea food lover, consider incorporating these items in your diet to boost your iron levels.

Per 100 grams serving – 28 mg

2. Liver:

LiverThe liver of chicken, turkey, pork, beef and lamb contains abundant amounts of iron. Beef liver, in particular, has a strong iron count, providing 6.1 mg of iron in a 100 gram serving. It is also low in fat and calories. This is one of the important foods rich in iron that can help keep iron deficiency at bay.

Per 100 grams serving – 23 mg


3. Squash and Pumpkin Seeds:

Squash and Pumpkin SeedsPumpkin and squash seeds are excellently included in the list of iron rich foods. This one cup serving provides 34 mg which is equivalent to a whopping 188% DV of this mineral. Certain studies have shown that pumpkin seeds can help prevent the formation of kidney stones among several health benefits. Other seeds that are good sources of iron include sesame, sunflower and flax seeds contributing 23%, 11% and 9% DV of this mineral in an ounce serving respectively. Now you have enough reason to chew these seeds as snacks or make them part of other healthy recipes.

 Per 100 grams serving – 15 mg

4. Nuts:

These delicious and crunchy food items are quite good sources of iron as well. Cashews top the list with an ounce serving providing 7.8 mg or 43% DV of iron. Other nuts that are rich in iron include pine nuts, contributing 9% DV, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts and pistachios, each contributing 7% DV and macadamia nuts, contributing 6% DV of iron. Munch on these nuts for a boost in iron levels and a bonus of heart healthy unsaturated fats.

Per 100 grams serving – 6.1 mg


5. Beef and Lamb (Lean Tenderloin):

Beef and LambLean tenderloin of beef and lamb are also great foods rich in iron. A 100 gram serving of beef tenderloin provides 3.1 mg or 21% DV of iron. Similarly, a 3 oz serving of lamb roast contributes 13% DV of iron. Ground beef is also a good source which provides 3.2 mg of iron in a 100 gram serving. Regular consumption of red meat reduces the likelihood of developing anaemia. Red meat contains heme iron which is easily absorbed by your body. Apart from being an excellent source of iron, lean beef and lean ground beef can also help lower cholesterol levels.

Per 100 grams serving – 3.7 mg

6. Beans and Pulses:

Beans and PulsesBeans are a great vegetarian source of iron but they also contain phytic acid which interferes with the absorption of iron. To reduce the phytic acid content, they should be soaked in warm water overnight before cooking. Soybeans are the richest sources of iron with a cup serving of boiled soybeans providing 8.8 mg of iron which is almost half of the daily requirement of this mineral. Black beans are also a good source, contributing 20% DV in a cup serving. They are also one of the richest food sources of molybdenum, a mineral that is required for iron utilization and enzyme function.

A cup of cooked white beans provides 6.6 mg or 37% DV of iron. Other beans that are good sources of iron include lentils (37% DV), kidney beans (29% DV), garbanzo beans or chickpeas (26% DV), lima beans (25% DV) and black eyed peas (20% DV). Lentils also contain insoluble fibre which can fill you up faster.

Per 100 grams serving – 3.7 mg

7. Whole Grains, Bran and Fortified Cereals:

Whole GrainsWhole grains, fortified cereals and bran are other good iron rich foods for vegetarians. They also contain iron inhibitors in the form of phytic acid which can be reduced by soaking or fermenting the grains before cooking them. Among the whole grains, quinoa is a super food providing 2.8 mg or 15% DV of iron in a cup serving. Oats and oatmeal are also quite good sources of iron providing 4.7 mg in a 100 gram serving. They too contain phytic acid which cannot be reduced by soaking and fermenting. It is advisable to consume fortified oatmeal rather than regular ones.

Other grains that are good sources of iron include barley (12% DV), rice (11% DV), buckwheat (7% DV) and millets (6% DV). Fortified cereals can provide a whopping 140% DV of iron per cup. One should be aware of the high sugar levels in fortified cereals. Whole grain bread, being a good plant-based source of non-heme iron, can also fulfill your requirement. A slice of wholegrain bread provides about 0.9 mg or 6% of the DV of iron. Being a good source of iron, whole grains should not be consumed with iron supplements.

Per 100 grams serving – 1.5 mg

8. Dark Leafy Greens:

Dark Leafy GreensDark leafy green veggies like spinach, Swiss Chard, kale etc are rich sources of iron as well as Vitamin C which is needed for improving iron absorption. A cup of cooked spinach provides 6 mg or 36% DV of iron. Other leafy greens include Swiss Chard (22% DV), cooked turnip greens (16% DV) and raw beet greens (5% DV). It should be kept in mind that these leafy greens also contain high levels of oxalates which inhibit iron absorption as well as tend to remove iron from the body.

Per 100 grams serving – 3.6 mg

9. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder:

Dark ChocolateBesides being a satisfying dessert, dark chocolate is a rich source of iron. One square of dark chocolate provides 5 mg or 28% DV of iron while a cup of cocoa powder provides 23 mg or 128% DV of iron. It also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


Per 100 grams serving – 17 mg


10. Tofu:

TofuTofu is quite a good source of non-heme iron with a cup of firm tofu providing 3.4 mg or 19% DV of iron. Certain studies have proved that tofu can help prevent breast cancer. It can also replace your meat as a source of protein. Since calcium can interfere with the absorption of non-heme iron, opt for tofu without added calcium to boost iron absorption.

Per 100 grams serving – 2.7 mg


Incorporate these iron rich foods in your diet for your daily dose of health. Don’t forget to leave us a comment below.

Also you may check list of high iron rich foods category wise.

High Iron Foods
Food typeFood Name
Meat & Eggs- Beef
- Lamb
- Ham
- Turkey
- Chicken
- Veal
- Pork
- Dried beef
- Liver
- Liverwurst
- Eggs (any style)
Seafood- Shrimp
- Clams
- Scallops
- Oysters
- Tuna
- Sardines
- Haddock
- Mackerel
Vegetables- Spinach
- Sweet potatoes
- Peas
- Broccoli
- String beans
- Beet greens
- Dandelion greens
- Collards
- Kale
- Chard
Bread & Cereals- White bread (enriched)
- Whole wheat bread
- Enriched pasta
- Wheat products
- Bran cereals
- Corn meal
- Oat cereal
- Cream of Wheat
- Rye bread
- Enriched rice
Fruit- Strawberries
- Watermelon
- Raisins
- Dates
- Figs
- Prunes
- Prune juice
- Dried apricots
- Dried peaches
Beans & Other Foods- Tofu
- Beans (white, canned)
- Tomato products (e.g., paste)
- Dried peas
- Dried beans
- Lentils
- Instant breakfast
- Corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Molasses

Also you can check below potassium, magnesium, zinc and protein rich foods –

Leave a Comment.