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9 Iron-Rich Foods You Should Eat

Include the foods on this list in your diet and you'll feel better and improve your health.

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Women who don’t consume enough amounts of iron-rich foods are especially prone to iron deficiency, which can cause chronic fatigue and anemia. The body’s hemoglobin producer, iron is an essential nutrient, so we get it from the foods we consume. Children and adults need minimum amounts of iron in their diet for strong bones, healthy teeth, and overall wellness.

How Much Iron Do we Need Each Day?

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences sets the Recommended Daily Value (RDA) for iron at 18 milligrams. Anyone who gets the RDV of iron each day protects themselves against many health concerns.

Our body needs two types of iron: heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in sources like seafood and animal meat. Non-heme iron comes from plant-based foods rather than meat.

Heme-iron is better absorbed by the body. The body absorbs about 30% of the heme iron they consume compared to just 2 to 10% of non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is more important to a well-balanced diet.

Plant-based protein provides our body its best source of iron.

Top 8 Iron-Rich Foods

The following iron-rich foods taste great and help you get the recommended 18 milligrams daily. Add one or add all of the heme and non-heme iron-rich foods from this list to your diet to meet your requirements.

1- Organ Meats like Liver

Hailed as a nutrient-dense superfood, liver offers 5 milligrams of iron per 3-ounce serving, or 27% of the RDV. Liver and other organ meats contain high levels of vitamin A, vitamin B, choline, copper, and selenium. Pan-fry liver with onions for a power-packed, delicious meal for your family.

2- Beef

Studies show that people who eat red meat and poultry experience fewer bouts of iron deficiency than people who don't include this food from their diets. Red meat contains 2.2 milligrams per 3-ounce serving. This equals 12% of the RDV. Nutrition Advance says that beef is a good source of L-Carnitine, rich in minerals, and improves muscle mass, making the food even more important to your diet.

3- Sardines and Tuna

Tuna and sardines contain high amounts of iron and taste great. Tuna offers 1.4 milligrams of iron per 3-ounce serving while sardines offer 2 milligrams per 3-ounce serving. Don’t like the taste of tuna or sardines? Try mackerel or haddock instead.

Harvard Health recommends eating no more than three servings of red meat per week.

4- Turkey Meat

Dark turkey meat, only. With 1.4 milligrams of iron per serving, dark turkey meat offers 8% of the RDV in one meal. Like most of the foods on this list, dark meat turkey has tons of nutrients, gives the immune system a boost, and increases metabolism rate. Do not limit your turkey consumption to only Thanksgiving. Turkey tastes great any time of the year and has so many health benefits.

5- Spinach

Follow Popeye the Sailor Man’s lead and eat spinach regularly. Raw spinach is better than the can version Popeye popped into his mouth for instant power. Raw spinach offers 2.7 milligrams of iron per 3.5-ounces. Cooked spinach has 6.4 milligrams of iron. That’s 36% of the RDV. Spinach also contains other good-for-you nutrients, including vitamin C and antioxidants. Spinach and other leafy greens also help the body’s absorption of carotenoids.

6- Beans and Lentils

Soybeans are an excellent source of iron, delivering an amazing 8.8 milligrams per one-cup serving. That is almost 50% of the RDV. A cup of lentils also fairs high in iron-content with 6.6 milligrams per serving. A half-cup black bean offers 1.8 milligrams of iron. Beans replace meat and make great side items for many of your favorite menu items.

A great meat substitute, beans are nutritious and taste great. Eat 3 servings of beans or lentils each week.

7- Pumpkin Seeds

Eating a one-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds delivers 2.5 milligrams of iron. Pistachios offer about half this amount of iron per serving. Like many other iron-rich foods, pumpkin seeds also contain substantial amounts of magnesium and 8 to 10 grams of protein. Pumpkin seeds also contain just 15 grams of healthy fat.

8- Tofu

You need only one half-cup Tofu to down 3.4 milligrams of iron. That’s about 19% of the RDV. Tofu is one of the best soy-based sources of protein you will find. It tastes great and easily pairs with your choice of foods. Tofu promotes kidney health, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, reduces blood pressure levels, and may reduce the risk of cancer.

9- Quinoa

Hailed as a ‘superfood,’ Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) offers enormous health benefits when regularly consumed. It is packed with antioxidants, magnesium, and folate. And with 2.8 milligrams of iron in one-cup of cooked Quinoa, you’ll also get 16% of the RDV in one meal.

© 2021 Amanda Grace

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