Iron deficiency is more common than you think, and this mineral is one element you don’t want to deprive yourself of. These foods can help you get enough iron in your diet.
If you’ve been told you’re not getting enough iron, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Especially in children and pregnant women and the only nutrient deficiency that is widespread in developed countries. This is a problem because this mineral plays a number of essential roles in the body. The best known is that it is a key component of red blood cells and helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron deficiency, a condition called anemia, makes it difficult for red blood cells to carry oxygen. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, chest pain or shortness of breath, cold hands and feet, dizziness and headache, lack of appetite and unusual cravings for substances like ice, dirt or starch.
How much iron do you need per day?
Here is how much iron different groups of people need per day:
- Non-pregnant women ages 19 to 50: 18 milligrams (mg)
- Pregnant women: 27mg
- Women aged 51 and over: 8 mg
- Men aged 19 and over: 8 mg
- Infants and children: 7 to 16 mg, depending on age
Avoid consuming too much iron
It is not recommended to consume more than 45 mg of iron per day if you are a teenager or an adult and more than 40 mg per day for people aged 13 and under.
Heme or non-heme iron: what’s the difference?
There are two types of iron: heme iron from animal sources and non-heme iron from plant sources. meat, poultry and seafood contain both heme and non-heme iron.
Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron of plant origin. It may therefore be beneficial to consume both types of nutrients in your diet. If you don’t eat meat, you should aim for almost double the daily iron intake (about 1.8 times more).
Common foods can help you get enough iron
The good news is that many common foods contain iron, from oysters and pumpkin seeds to fortified cereals and red meat.
Here are 10 iron-rich foods that can help you get all the minerals you need.
1 Eggs, red meat, liver and organ meats are the best sources of heme iron.
In addition to non-heme iron, many animal proteins contain heme iron, including ground beef (100g of 93% lean ground meat provides 2.63mg, making it a good source), eggs (1.68mg in two large eggs), turkey (1.23 mg per 80g of dark meat turkey) and pork loin (just over 0.5 mg per 80g).
Organ meats, such as liver and organ meats, are particularly high in iron. For example, 113 grams of chicken offal contains 6.1 mg of iron, making it an excellent source. As for the liver, it contains an impressive amount of iron. 30g of pork liver contains 6.61mg of iron, another excellent source. If your cholesterol level is high, or if you are pregnant, avoid the liver.
2 Oysters, mussels and clams are rich sources of iron
Feel free to splurge on the seafood appetizers, they come with a generous amount of iron! Bivalve shellfish like clams, mussels and oysters are rich in this important nutrient. Five raw oysters provide 3.23 mg of iron, making it a good source. They are also an excellent source of zinc, with 27.5 mg, as well as vitamin B12, with 6.1 micrograms. Zinc helps the immune system ward off viruses and bacteria, and vitamin B12 contributes to healthy nerve and blood cells.
3 Chickpeas are an iron concentrate for vegetarians
Animal products are known to be sources of iron, but that doesn’t mean plant-based foods can’t help you reach your goal. Chickpeas, a type of legume, provide 3.7 mg of iron per cup, making it an excellent source. They also provide lean plant-based protein, 14.6g per cup, to be exact.
Chickpeas are a tasty addition to salads and pasta dishes, and they can be an unexpected way to toss salsa. If you’re not a fan of the texture, puree the chickpeas to create an iron-rich homemade hummus. Adding lemon juice to your hummus will increase the vitamin C content of the snack and help your body absorb the non-heme iron found in legumes more easily. In fact, when you consume a food rich in iron at the same time as a food rich in vitamin C, you improve your body’s ability to absorb iron.
4 Fortified breakfast cereals may be full of iron
Is a bowl of cereal your go-to breakfast? Opt for a fortified version to start your day with a dose of iron. Check the nutrition label for the amount of iron per serving. (And be sure to opt for the box with the least added sugar).
Raisin bran contains 9.39 mg of iron per cup, making it an excellent source. It’s also a great source of fiber, a common feature of fortified cereals. Dietary fiber can help relieve constipation and lower your chances of developing diabetes or heart disease.
5 Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they contain a lot of iron.
Don’t underestimate these crunchy seeds. A 30g serving of raw unshelled pumpkin seeds contains 2.7mg of iron. Making it a good source of iron in a variety of dishes. Add the seeds to homemade dried fruit mix or bread or muffin recipes, or use them as a crunchy topping for yogurt, cereal or salad. You can also try them on their own for a quick and healthy snack. Everybody wins !
6 Edamame is also packed with iron and other essential nutrients.
One cup of these raw, green soybeans contains about 9 mg of iron. This makes it an excellent source of this nutrient. Not to mention that they are a good source of minerals such as copper, which contribute to the health of blood vessels and the immune system. A cup of soybeans is also a good source of copper and an excellent source of manganese and fiber, while providing plant-based protein.
7 Prepare black beans with vegetables rich in vitamin C to gain iron
Boiled black beans contain 3.61 mg of iron per cup. Which makes it an excellent source. To boost iron absorption, pair them with healthy foods like kale, bell peppers, broccoli, or cauliflower. These foods are rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that aids the absorption of non-heme iron. Add the beans to a salad, puree them to make a sauce to eat with raw vegetables, or stir them into a stir-fry. The recipe possibilities with a can of black beans are endless! And if you’re looking for more variety, kidney beans and fava beans also contain iron.
8 Lentils are another legume with a lot of iron
Lentils are another legume that deserves an honorable mention in the iron department. Cooked lentils are an excellent source of this mineral with about 6.59 mg per cup. They also offer 15.6g of fiber per cup, making them a rich source. Fiber can help lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar. Lentils are also an extremely versatile ingredient in the kitchen. They go great with everything from soups to salads.
9 Spinach, eaten cooked or raw, provides iron
No matter how you prepare it, spinach is an excellent source of iron. 1 cup of this healthy green provides 3.72 mg of iron, along with protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and E. Calcium is necessary for your strong bones. Vitamin A benefits your vision and immunity and vitamin E helps your vision, as well as your blood, brain and skin.
10 Sesame Seeds Have a Nutty Taste and an Iron Kick
Sesame seeds have a wonderful nutty flavor and are a rich source of iron. The seeds contain some iron: 1.31 mg per tablespoon and offer a large number of other essential nutrients, such as copper. Not to mention that they contain phosphorus, vitamin E and zinc. An easy way to incorporate the seeds into your diet is to sprinkle them on a salad. Each tablespoon will add over a milligram of iron to your daily count and when you aim for 18mg per day, every bit counts!