Foods rich in iron: Are you getting enough iron in your diet? If you are like most of our other readers, you most likely do not know! Iron if you do not already know is a nutrient that is quintessential for cognitive thinking. It also boosts your memory and energy levels! And, this is exactly why you should include natural sources of iron in your daily diet.
The most common of all forms of nutritional deficiency among pregnant women and children is a lack of iron. By not getting enough dietary iron, a host of health problems can arise and it can make you prone to infection and illness. Pregnant women can also have premature deliveries.
So, is there any average amount of iron we should take? Women aged 19 years to 50 years should consume about 18 mg of iron each day, while men aged similarly should eat 8 mg. Iron-rich foods can be sourced from animal-based foods or plant-based foods.
When we say Iron, you are bound to think of Spinach! Yes, spinach is certainly one of the best sources of iron, but only spinach can make your meal a tad bit boring! Read on to know more about the 15 best iron rich food that you can include in your daily diet. But, before let us know the benefits of ron rich food.
Benefits of high iron foods: Having a balanced diet includes iron-rich foods as without them, one can suffer from anaemia, cough, chronic anaemia and predialysis anaemia.
- Iron is necessary for our physical and mental growth.
- It metabolises proteins and contributes to producing haemoglobin and red blood cells.
- It prevents exhaustion from setting in and strengthens the immune system.
- Iron rich foods also build mental concentration, normalises body temperature and gets rid of insomnia.
- It carries oxygen from cell to cell in the body so that all bodily routine functions can be carried out.
- Iron is contained in a muscle protein known as myoglobin. It takes oxygen from haemoglobin and distributes it to the muscle cells.
- Iron provides the brain with sufficient oxygen for its smooth functioning.
Now, that you know a few of the many health benefits of this potent nutrient, let us take you through a few of the most iron-rich food that you must and should include in your diet.
And the LIST begins…
Iron Rich Foods
Here are 15 foods rich in iron that can help you remain healthy and fit:
Spinach and collard greens always rank among the top five foods rich in iron, apart from other nutrients. For one, it keeps the body alkaline and also contains essential antioxidants to fend off free radical damage, justifying eating it regularly.
Being abundant in phytonutrients only makes it rich in iron. 100 gm of cooked spinach can give you 3.6 mg of iron, equivalent to 20% of iron’s daily recommended intake. If you don’t particularly like its taste, just add it to soy milk, a banana and frozen fruit and make a smoothie of it. You’re sure to love it in this form!
You can also drink Spinach soup (don’t forget to boil spinach in a closed vessel so that nutrients don’t go away).
Kidney beans are very good for the heart and aid smooth bowel functioning due to their fibre content. By eating half a cup of canned kidney beans, you stand to gain 10% of your daily value of iron. Eating kidney beans also gives you protein.
However, we would personally recommend not opting for canned kidney beans.
It would be best if you can buy the beans in raw form from the grocery store and boil it yourself in a closed vessel. Use these boiled beans in a way you like. Some can be:
- Sprinkling spices and eating it as it is.
- Adding it to the salad.
- Using it in Tacos.
Broccoli is a highly health-giving vegetable, so it’s not surprising to find that it’s also rich in iron. A cup of broccoli contains 1 mg of iron or 6% of the recommended daily intake. It is also rich in Vitamin C, which helps absorb iron well. Being a cruciferous vegetable, it protects you from cancer.
There are many recipes for Broccoli, such as soup, salad, crisps and other things. You can read more broccoli recipes here.
In their raw form, these beans contain the highest amount of iron. However, when boiled, much of this is lost, yet they remain high in protein. When converted into tempeh or tofu, soybeans lose much of their iron content. If you are anaemic or get exhausted quickly, you can increase your iron content by including soybeans in your diet.
About 15.7mg of iron provides you with 87% of its daily value. In addition to iron and protein, soybeans also contain trace amounts of copper and manganese that help improve immunity and regulate several chemical processes in the body. If you do not fancy chomping a spoon of soybeans, simply add them to your pasta or curry!
Raisins are packed with nutrients, chiefly iron. It’s easy to add a few of these dry fruits to your cereal, desserts, salads, oatmeal or yoghurt if only to improve the taste. If you want the most out of this iron-rich food, add it to other health foods that are rich in Vitamin C. Your body will also find it easier to absorb. About a 1/2 cup of raisins will give you 1.6 mg of iron or 9% of your daily value of iron.
Lentils are rich in fibre by virtue of which they are digested slowly. However, they are also rich in iron, making it a good reason to add to your daily menu. You can increase your iron content significantly if you add soya beans and spices to a lentil and thus eat a complete and balanced meal.
A veggie on the side will enhance your iron quotient and keep you active and well. You can choose among beans, peas, soybeans, chickpeas and lentils. A cup of cooked lentils will give you 37% of iron’s daily recommended intake.
A cup of these legumes will give you about 5 mg of iron and an impressive amount of protein, so go for it if you’re vegetarian. You can add them to pasta or salads or mix them up with salsa! If you find them too coarse, put them through the blender and create your very own hummus.
You can not only use it in a salad, but also in curry and many more recipes. Some of the recipes for chickpeas are listed here.
Everyone knows that dark chocolate can help people with high cholesterol, and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. For maximum benefit, eat a piece of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, equivalent to 19% of iron’s recommended daily intake and get the benefit of gut health too.
Dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants, Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Manganese. Need I say more?
These seeds are rich in iron and also contain omega-3s, which helps treat several problems. Apart from this, they also contain tryptophan that relaxes you while you sleep; magnesium and zinc that looks after your heart and prostate. By eating 28 gm of these seeds, you benefit by taking in 23% of the recommended daily intake of iron.
Pick any kind of olive you find, and you will be happy to know that they are all loaded with iron. Olives contain fibre and monounsaturated fats or healthy fats that you can safely include in your diet. The iron content in olives amounts to 3.3mg or 18% of the daily value.
Now you know your Pizza or Subway is not completely a junk food; contains iron if you add olives as a topping.
One easy way of taking in more iron is to opt for dried peaches. Dried peaches are high in nutrients like iron in each serving. Eat them at breakfast if you will, or add them to a salad or snack on them when you want. Just one serving can up your iron intake by 9% of your recommended daily intake or 1.6 mg of iron, so go for it.
Dried Peaches can be found in any supermarket or food store around you.
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Arugula and its companion dark greens have innumerable health benefits with a very small calorie count. So, it pays to eat these greens in large quantity and often, chiefly for it being so iron-rich. Adding arugula to your diet is very simple as it is a good salad vegetable.
A few servings of it per week can greatly benefit your overall health and increase your red blood cells. You can also top your pizzas with it or saute its pasta and any other dish. Half a cup of arugula can give you 1.8% of your daily value of iron or 0.146 mg of iron.
Quinoa is rich in iron, potassium and magnesium, and is therefore deemed healthy. It is gluten-free and offers the eater 1.5 mg of iron from a 100 gm serving, amounting to 8% of the daily value.
Quinoa burger, Quinoa salad, Broccoli Quinoa salad, Quinoa porridge, Quinoa bars, roasted Quinoa seeds over a dish are some of the things that you can take advantage of to make it one of the best iron rich foods.
One of the most versatile foods today, brown rice is now a judicious part of many international cuisines and is seen as an important health food. And, it’s tasty too, so don’t see it as medicine.
It has an abundance of fibre and helps the body get rid of any toxins that accumulate. Being rich in iron means it never lets you suffer from fatigue or anaemia. To be in good health always, ensure that you eat a serving of brown rice with your veggies and beans.
Not only will you be in good health, but you will feel full for hours. A cup of this wonder food will give you 0.8 mg of iron or 5% of your daily value of iron per day.
Freshly bought and roasted artichokes will give you the highest amount of iron among vegetables. They are also abundant in fibre, so you won’t need to eat a lot of it to feel full.
By eating 100 gm of artichokes, you gain 1.3mg of iron or 10% of your daily need for iron. Anaemic people whose bodies cannot produce sufficient haemoglobin and consequently red blood cells can benefit greatly from eating iron-rich foods like artichokes.
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Now that you know which foods to depend on to increase your iron content and get over your feeling of exhaustion and anaemia, you can easily include some of these iron-rich foods in your daily diet.
About Author: Maanasi Radhakrishnan, Writer @ HealthNBodyTips
A mother of an untiring five-year-old, Maanasi enjoys nurturing her love affair with English. She is often found nestled with a book, plopped against a dozen pillows, smiling away at the brink of finishing yet another book of the many dozens, that adorn the shelves of her Mini Library!