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Iron Rich Foods

What can I stock in my fridge or my pantry that has 2 mg or more of iron per serving?

What Is Iron and What Does It Do?

Iron-deficiency anemia is a very common condition. Without an adequate iron intake, fatigue can occur (1). That is because iron is a very important mineral that is involved in keeping one’s energy levels elevated. Even if you do not have iron-deficiency anemia, iron is still important for overall health and wellness. It is involved in blood production, and it carries oxygen to the cells of the body. Interested in learning more about iron? Keep reading.

Iron-Rich Food Sources:

Iron is found in a variety of foods. This is a good thing because our bodies cannot make iron—we must obtain it from the foods we eat. Here are some of the top foods that contain iron.

Plant-based sources of iron include:

1 C of cannellini beans (2.4 mg iron per serving)

1/2 C lentils (3 mg iron per serving)

1/2 C firm tofu (3 mg iron per serving)

1/2 C boiled spinach (3 mg iron per serving)

3 oz dark chocolate (7 mg iron per serving)

Animal-based sources of iron include:

3 oz beef liver (5 mg iron per serving)

3 oz sardines, canned in oil (2 mg iron per serving)

3 oz oysters (8 mg iron per serving)

Additionally, fortified breakfast cereals are packed with iron, containing a whopping eighteen milligrams per serving. And they can be included in a healthy diet. However, it’s important to note that to enhance the absorption of plant-based iron, you should, one, pair it with a citrusy food such as tomatoes, strawberries, lemon juice, or oranges; and, two, avoid consuming iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods such as dairy, since calcium inhibits iron absorption (2). These two habits are very important—particularly for those dedicated to eating a plant-based diet. 

Your Grocery List:

Meals You Can Make Using the Grocery List Above:

Creating tasty, healthy meals involves a little creativity. Although the grocery list above contains only a small fraction of iron-rich food staples, here are some meals you can create—even with a short list like this one:

Breakfast: 

(1) 1 C fortified hot wheat cereal with strawberries  = at least 12 mg iron total

(2) dark chocolate oatmeal (3 oz) with 4 oz orange juice = at least 7 mg iron total

Lunch:

(1) chicken liver (3 oz), 1/2 C sauteed spinach and citrus salad with mixed greens = at least 13mg of iron total

(2) 1/2 C lentils and rice = at least 3 mg iron total

Dinner:

(1) baked sardines (3 oz) and creamy mashed potatoes with skin = at least 4 mg iron total

(2) beef (3 oz) and 1/2 C cannellini beans and onions = at least 4.6 mg iron total

The Benefits to Shopping Like This:

Iron is an essential mineral. Iron is also important for physical growth, neurological development, the production of hormones, and the normal functioning of cells (1). That’s a lot of work, but this mineral is the right one for the job. Since iron is found in food sources from both plants and animals, consuming an adequate amount of iron from your diet does not have to be complicated. 

The Bottom Line:

Whether you eat plants or animals, rest assured that you can eat a diet that contains adequate amounts of iron. It only takes the intake of a few iron-rich staples to ensure you are getting enough. Try some of the aforementioned foods to stock up your fridge or pantry. (Remember all these items contain at least two milligrams of iron per serving.) Once you’ve had the chance to shop for the items you need, you can whip up any of the meal options listed in this article, or whatever tasty combination comes to mind. Bon appetit. 

People ask Vitalcart for grocery tips each day. We get the best finds for each health goal and share them live with you.

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