Many adults do not get enough iron on a daily basis. A lack of iron may result in sluggishness, extreme tiredness, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, frequent headaches, poor appetite, and more. Iron deficiency, also referred to as anemia or being anemic, can become very serious. Some people are more at risk of becoming anemic than others, such as vegetarians, pregnant women, children, and frequent blood donors.
Iron Rich Foods
Even if you don’t fall into one of these categories, you probably are still not getting enough iron for your body to function at its best. To counter anemia and ensure you are getting enough iron, incorporate some (or all) of the food discussed below into your diet.
Full of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fat, soybeans (organic) are also rich in iron, packing in 49% of your recommended daily value of the mineral in just 1 cup. Soybeans are easy to incorporate into your cooking; you can add them to soups, chili, pasta, and more.
In just 1 cup, lentils provide you with ample protein and iron, delivering about 7 mg of the latter (37% DV). Lentils can be incorporated into your soups, salads, stews, or used to make curry and many other side dishes.
3. Pinto Beans
For about 21% of your recommended daily value of iron, enjoy a nice cup of pinto beans. You can use them in your homemade huevos rancheros, burritos, tostadas, taco salads, or even use them to make a healthy pinto and black bean burger that is just delicious.
Like other dried fruits, raisins contain a good amount of iron (9% DV in ½ cup). This nutrient-dense treat can be added to your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, or salads. For added benefits and to make it easier for your body to absorb the iron, combine raisins with other healthy foods containing vitamin C.
5. Black Beans
Another member of the legume family, black beans are also high in iron, packing in 20% DV in one cup of boiled beans. Beans in general are affordable, easy to cook with, delicious, and high in protein, and black beans are no exception.
Another waist-friendly and budget-friendly staple, potatoes are also rich in iron. One medium-sized potato (with the skin) will deliver just over 3 mg of iron, or about 18% DV. They are also high in vitamin C, which helps your body effectively process the iron and strengthens your immune system. Potatoes are so easy to incorporate into almost every dish; you can bake them, mash them, boil them, dice them, or throw them in your stew.
7. Sun-dried Tomatoes
Not only are sun-dried tomatoes coveted for their delicious flavor, but also for their high amount of iron. In just 1 cup, you’ll receive almost 5 mg of iron (27% DV) for under 140 calories. Sun-dried tomatoes pack in so much flavor and add color and zest to any dish, whether it be pasta sauce, omelets, sandwiches, or salads. As the cherry on top, sun-dried tomatoes are also full of antioxidants, lycopene, and vitamin C.
8. Lima Beans
You can receive about 25% of your daily value of iron in just 1 cup of lima beans. This bean should not be consumed raw, but once cooked, lima beans provide flavor that enhances many dishes.
9. Sunflower Seeds
Not only are they full of vitamin E and protein, but sunflower seeds are also high in iron, with over 7 mg in 1 cup (about 41% DV). They’re easy to snack on, especially if you’re at a baseball game. The shelled sunflower seeds are easy to munch on as well and go great in your salads and trail mix.
10. Cooked Spinach
This leafy green vegetable if chock-full of vitamins and minerals, and iron is just one of them. At just 41 calories, 1 cup of the good stuff packs in 6.4 mg of iron (36% DV). Spinach is so easy to add to a salad or just eat by itself; you can also add spinach to your pasta, omelets and more.
Bonus: Dark Chocolate
If there is an upside to being iron-deficient it is this: you get a free pass to eat chocolate! Just make sure that it is organic dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa), and you’ll get about 35% of your recommended daily value in 100 grams of the stuff.
This may not be the most diet-friendly option, as 100 grams will cost you almost 600 calories. The best way to incorporate this into your day is to enjoy a small bite (literally one bite) of dark chocolate after each meal.
While iron deficiency can be a very serious issue, it is also one that is easy to rectify. Other iron-rich foods include strawberries, prune juice, peas, kale, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and more. Your body can digest and process iron that occurs naturally in foods much better than it can iron in a supplement form.
The easiest way to ditch those supplements is to incorporate as many of the above iron-rich foods into your daily diet.