Iron is a micro-nutrient that is important for blood production in the body. It plays a central role in carrying oxygen to the blood. Many foods have high iron content. Foods that have high iron content can be used to overcome iron deficiency.
Hence, iron deficiency can result in anemia. Its symptoms include fatigue, headache, dizziness, pale skin, and weakness.
Therefore, one should have an adequate amount of this mineral in one’s body. The daily recommended value of iron is 18 mg for females and 8 mg for males. This value is achieved by dietary sources or supplements.
In food, it is either available in heme or non-heme form. Heme iron is easily absorbable in the body as compared to non-heme.
This article will guide you about all the high heme and non-heme iron foods.
Foods Rich in Heme Iron
Heme iron is mainly present in animals and animal-related products. These range from organ meat to fish and oysters. These animal foods have high iron content:
Animal organ meat is one of the richest sources of heme iron. These meats include the brain, kidney, liver, and heart. A 100-gram serving of organ meats will make up for 31-36% of the daily value for this mineral.
Beef liver, in particular, is popular among many meat consumers. Additionally, an abundant amount of this mineral is found in livers. In a 100 g serving of cooked beef liver, you will get 6.54 mg of this micronutrient.
Adding organ meat to your diet is a healthy choice because of its rich nutrient content. However, the amount of cholesterol and fats in organs is too high for regular consumption. A large amount of cholesterol can cause numerous diseases.
Additionally, the higher intake of organ meats increases the prevalence of hyperuricemia. Therefore, an individual should consume organ meat in moderation.
Mollusk shellfish, like clams and oysters, are a good source of this mineral. Eating 100 g oysters gives a rapid boost to your iron intake by adding 8.26 mg to your daily intake.
Shellfish are also rich in healthy nutrients. These include digestible proteins, vitamin B-12, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
Researches have indicated that long-chain PUFA can decrease the incidence of coronary heart disease.
Although shellfish are generally safe for consumption, sometimes poor farming practice leads to hazardous results. There might be an incident of pathogenic growth or the presence of toxins. Therefore one should buy shellfish from verified and safe sources.
Fish are surprisingly a great source of this micronutrient. There are many types of fish that will up your daily intake.
Mackerel and sardines are a good example. A canned 100 g of mackerel has 2.04 mg iron. Additionally, it is also a good source of vitamin A and B-12. Vitamin A is important for eyesight.
Sardines will provide almost 3 mg of this mineral in the same amount. Moreover, there is an impressive amount of calcium and vitamin B-12 in sardines.
Other fish, like tuna and haddock, also contain a fair amount of this mineral.
Regular meat consumers rarely suffer from iron deficiency. This is basically because red meat has this mineral in heme form. Therefore, the iron coming from meat is not wasted at all.
A 100 gram of cooked ground beef contains 2.24 mg of this mineral.
In addition to that, red meat provides you with a good amount of zinc, choline, and vitamin B-12. However, one should only go for lean red meat. Otherwise, they risk adding an abundance of harmful fats to their diet.
Lastly, meat and seafood are rich in purine. The higher intake of purine-rich food can result in an increased level of uric acid.
Turkey is a type of white meat. It is popular during the Thanksgiving season. This meat provides us with high-quality proteins. In addition to that, it adds a good amount of selenium, zinc, and potassium to the diet.
Nutritionally, chicken and turkey are almost the same. However, turkey meat provides a slightly higher amount of iron. In a 100 gram of cooked ground turkey, one can get 1.52 mg of this nutrient. Whereas in chicken, this amount is 1.26 mg.
Foods that are Rich in Non-Heme Iron
These are plant-based foods that are rich in iron content. There are many fruits and vegetables that have high iron content. This group also includes dark chocolate, fortified foods, and enriched bread. Non-heme iron-rich foods are the best choice for vegetarians.
The plant sources like legumes are a good way to add a non-heme form of this nutrient to your diet. The amount of this micronutrient varies depending on the type of legume.
A 100 grams of kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas all have different, but a good, amount of iron in them.
This nutrient in boiled lentils is 3.33 mg, in kidney beans 2.94 mg, and in chickpeas 2.89 mg. Additionally, the protein and fiber content of legumes is impressive. Moreover, you can get a good amount of folate from legumes.
However, since legumes are non-heme sources, their absorption will be minimum in the body. Vitamin C could increase this absorption. Therefore, consuming legumes with high vitamin C food, like leafy greens or lemons provides maximum benefit.
All the leafy greens have a good amount of iron in them. However, spinach stands out as it is the richest leafy green in this mineral. 100 grams of spinach leaves contains 2.71 mg.
Spinach also has this mineral in nonheme form. However, it contains a rich amount of vitamin C. The presence of this vitamin increases the absorption of this mineral in the body.
Additionally, there is a vast amount of calcium and carotenoids in spinach. Carotenoids play a protective role in the body. They are antioxidants and can help against cancers and eye disease.
The addition of spinach to the diet is easy. You can toss them in salads, smoothies, or use them in pasta.
Seeds like pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron. Additionally, they contain healthy fats and fibers which are good for heart health.
One may find it surprising that pumpkin seeds have more iron than spinach and red meat.
A 50 gram serving of pumpkin seeds adds 4.04 mg of iron to the diet. Moreover, a high amount of magnesium and phosphorus in them.
In addition to heart benefits, the nutrients in pumpkin seed oil may play a role in reducing cholesterol.
Lastly, when you buy pumpkin seeds, make sure to get unsalted seeds to avoid other health problems.
Dried Apricot and Peach
The water content of dried fruits is lower which increases the nutrient concentration. One such nutrient is iron. Dried peach and apricots are an amazing way to get iron from fruits.
For vegetarians, dried fruits are a good option to get your iron from the dietary source.
However, one thing to remember is that sugar content is high in dried fruits. Therefore, make sure you don’t over consume these fruits.
Chocolate is a favorite food around the world. However, due to its unhealthy profile, people feel guilty for eating too much chocolate.
But the good news for chocolate lovers is that cocoa is rich in iron. Therefore, the more cocoa present in your chocolate, the more iron you add to your diet.
If you want to get maximum benefits from chocolate, then it is better to switch to the dark one.
A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate will give 4.19 mg of this mineral. Additionally, dark chocolate can protect skin and contains a number of antioxidants.
Fortification of food is the addition of micronutrients in the food. The absence of these micronutrients in the diet causes deficiency. Therefore, manufacturers add them to the food.
Baby foods and breakfast cereal are often targeted for fortification. The fortification of baby food with iron is common.
In the early stages of growth, babies need an adequate supply of nutrients like iron. Therefore, a good chunk of iron could add up to the baby’s diet from these foods.
Cereal-based baby food has 4.5 mg of necessary iron. Moreover, they also have a rich amount of other minerals like zinc and calcium. For adults, the fortified cereals are a good way to get iron.
A 28 g of fortified wheat cereal can add almost 7 mg of iron to daily intake. In addition, one also gets a good amount of vitamin A, potassium, and phosphorus from these cereals.
Other than cereals, bread is a popular food for breakfast.
Food enrichment is done to increase the amount of an already present nutrient in food. These nutrients are either removed during processing or present in a minute amount.
Iron in plain bread is low. Therefore white bread is enriched to increase iron content. A typical enriched white bread will give 5.55 mg of this mineral per 100 grams. Therefore, two slices of 25 grams can add 2.77 mg of iron to the diet. Moreover, enriched bread has a good amount of phosphorus and potassium in it.
Iron is required in every age of life. It is an important nutrient to prevent anemia. The above-mentioned foods have high iron content, so you must incorporate these foods into your diet to prevent iron deficiency.
There are supplements for iron, but the best way to get nutrients is through food. Therefore, add these iron-rich foods to your diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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