Iron is found in a wide variety of foods, but some are more fortified than others, according to Dr. Salga Blake. Here are a few iron-rich foods:
Organ meats are usually packed with iron. In fact, a 3-ounce serving of cooked beef liver provides 5.2 milligrams of iron, which is more than 29% of the Daily Value (DV). Organ meats are also high in protein and rich in a variety of other important micronutrients, including B vitamins, zinc, copper and manganese.
For vegans and vegetarians, tofu can be a nutritious and iron-rich addition to a plant-based diet. A quarter of a block of tofu contains nearly 3.4 milligrams of iron, or about 19% of the RDI. Tofu is also a great source of protein and soy isoflavones, which have been extensively studied for their ability to potentially increase bone density, stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce breast cancer risk.
Many types of shellfish are high in iron, including shrimp, clams, scallops and oysters. For example, a 3-ounce serving of cooked oysters provides 7.8 milligrams of iron, which is over 43% of the RDI. Oysters are also a great source of zinc, a mineral necessary for immune function and wound healing.
Spinach is a leafy vegetable that packs a nutritional punch. In addition to a hearty dose of fiber, calcium and vitamin A, each cup of cooked spinach provides 6.4 milligrams of iron, or more than 35% of the RDI. In addition, spinach also contains a small amount of vitamin C, which can help increase the absorption of iron in the body.
Red meat, including beef, pork and lamb, is a great source of iron. A 3-ounce serving of cooked ground beef contains 2.2 milligrams of iron, which is about 12% of the RDI. Red meat also contains many other nutrients, such as protein, that can help with muscle growth.
Not only can dark chocolate help satisfy your sweet tooth, but it can also help boost your iron intake. In fact, a 1-ounce serving provides 2.3 milligrams of iron, or nearly 13% of the RDI. Dark chocolate also comes with antioxidants and may even help reduce inflammation and support blood sugar levels when enjoyed in moderation.
Like other types of animal products, poultry can help you increase your intake of heme iron, which is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron. For example, a 3-ounce serving of cooked ground turkey contains nearly 1.3 milligrams of iron, which is about 7% of the RDI. In addition, turkey also contains protein and micronutrients, including B vitamins.
With nearly 1.9 milligrams of iron in every ounce — or about 10% of the DV — cashews can help boost your iron intake on a plant-based diet. In addition to iron, cashews are also high in protein, fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
While iron deficiency is a common deficiency around the world, iron-rich foods are an easy way to ensure you’re getting your recommended daily intake. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a carnivore, there’s an abundance of whole foods that can help you stay healthy, nourished and satisfied.
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