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20 iron-rich foods that are good for your health

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Discover the 20 iron-rich foods that are good for your health.

Iron is a mineral used primarily by our body to produce hemoglobin, a protein responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that helps transport oxygen to the muscles.

Note: According to data provided by the National Institutes of Health (1), the recommended amount of this mineral is: 8 mg of iron daily for men between 19 and 50 years old, while women of those same ages should consume 18 mg iron per day.

Learn now how to identify heme iron and non-heme iron, to prevent lack of energy, weakness, and fatigue, intestinal disorders, lack of memory, and concentration that cause the deficiency of this mineral with this list of 20 rich foods in iron.

What foods are rich in iron?

There are 2 types of iron in food: Heme iron, which is found only in foods of animal origin and is characterized by its high absorption by the body and by not being affected by antinutrients, that is, substances that make it difficult to use and absorb certain nutrients.

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You should know: There is also non-heme iron, which is that found in foods of plant origin and is considered of less importance for the human body since it is barely absorbed and, likewise, antinutrients can even decrease even more its absorption.

In this sense, below we will present a list of the 20 foods rich in iron, both of animal origin and vegetable origin, the foods with high iron content that should be part of the diet of people suffering from iron deficiency anemia, and the amounts of this mineral that each food provides according to the daily needs of the body.

1. Clams

Amount of iron:

28 g of iron per 100 g clams cooked with humid heat =  155%  RDA (recommended daily amount)

They are a very common mollusk used to make multiple recipes and with a high nutritional value.

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In addition to being one of the foods rich in iron, according to Self magazine (2), the consumption of clams also provides you with  very high amounts of other important nutrients :

Vitamin B12: 1648% RDA.

Vitamin C: 37% RDA.

Selenium: 91% RDA.

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Manganese: 50% RDA.

Protein: 51% CDR.

Omega 3: 100% CDR.

Note: Of these nutrients, vitamin B12 participates in the formation of red blood cells, the maintenance of the nervous system, and the proper functioning of the brain.

On the other hand, these mollusks are also foods rich in vitamin C, this substance helps the absorption of iron, it also reduces the risk of cancer and prevents some chronic and cardiovascular diseases.

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2. Liver

Amount of iron:

17.9 mg per 100 g braised pork liver =  100%  RDA

12.9 mg per 100 g fried chicken liver =  74%  RDA

10.2 g per 100 g fried lamb liver =  57%  RDA

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6.2 mg per 100 g fried veal liver =  34%  RDA

Liver meat has a high concentration of nutrients, which is why its intake is very beneficial for health.

You should know: The liver is popularly known as one of the foods rich in iron since it is also part of the diet of people with iron deficiency anemia.

Depending on the animal from which it comes, it may contain more or less iron, as well as  other nutrients, including :

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Vitamin A.

Vitamin B2.

B12 vitamin.

Copper.

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Other vitamins and minerals: B3, B5, B6, phosphorus, folic acid …

Note: A study published by the Journal of Pregnancy (3), details that if you are pregnant you should limit the consumption of liver to once a week, since its high content of copper and vitamin A can negatively affect the fetus.

3. Cockles

Amount of iron:

16.2 mg per 100 g =  90%  RDA

Like clams, cockles are mollusk that contains several other nutrients in addition to being a source of iron.

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Note: They stand out for being a food with large amounts of vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, phosphorus, copper, and protein.

Also, cockles are low in calories, so they can be part of any hypocaloric diet or to lose weight.

4. Sepia

Amount of iron:

10.8 mg / 100 g =  60%  RDA

Almost all mollusks are foods rich in iron and cuttlefish could not be the exception.

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You should know: This delicious delicacy in many cuisines of the world is an excellent source of protein that provides you with 32.5 g  of protein for every 100 g of cuttlefish.

Beyond its iron and protein content, the consumption of cuttlefish also helps you cover the daily doses of vitamin B2, B12, selenium, phosphorus, and omega 3, among other nutrients.

5. Oysters

Amount of iron:

9.2 mg / 100 g oysters cooked with humid heat =  51%  RDA

Oysters, despite being one of the best-known iron-rich foods, is a food that is not available to many due to its high price, but whose consumption is worth it due to its nutritional value.

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Crude, the magazine Self (4), oysters have  6 times the RDA for zinc 3 times that of vitamin B12, 2 times the copper and omega – 3  and 80% of vitamin D.

Note: Zinc is an important mineral associated with the proper functioning of the immune system and its deficiency increases the risk of various health problems such as diarrhea, hair loss, or impotence.

6. Sardines in tomato sauce

Amount of iron:

8.5 mg / 100 g canned sardines =  47%  RDA

Iron is an important mineral for liver function, and although it is common for people to believe that red meat is one of the foods that contain this mineral, it is important to note that fish also have a high iron content and promote absorption of this mineral more quickly.

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You should know: Sardines are a kind of fatty/bluefish and as such contain a high amount of omega 3 fats 4 times the RDA  per 100 grams.

  Omega 3 has many benefits for health that have been confirmed by science and one of them is their help in preventing heart disease.

Likewise, they are very rich in protein,  vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, and other vitamins and minerals.

7. Mussels

Amount of iron:

6.7 mg / 100 g mussels cooked with humid heat =  37%  RDA

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Another food of the mollusk family with a high nutritional contribution that also benefits the absorption of iron.

You should know: Mussels are rich in iron, but they stand out mainly for their very high amount of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient for the body, especially for red blood cells, the nervous system, and the brain.

Likewise, mussels have very significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, and selenium, among others.

8. Prawns

Amount of iron:

3.1 mg / 100 g prawns cooked with humid heat =  17%  RDA

Prawns are a very common type of seafood that is usually served as a starter cooked on the grill.

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It is a crustacean rich in vitamin D, proteins, B12, and minerals such as selenium or phosphorus, in addition to omega – 3.

Note: They contain very few calories and are very refreshing when served cold after cooking and accompanied with some type of dressing, such as mayonnaise.

9. Tuna

Amount of iron:

4.8 mg / 100 g canned tuna in water =  9%  RDA

Tuna is a lean fish rich in protein, vitamin B3,  vitamin K, vitamin D, and selenium.

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Note: Despite being a low-fat fish, 100 g of canned tuna in water almost completely covers the daily requirement of omega 3 of our body, in addition to increasing iron levels and benefiting the absorption of this mineral.

Thanks to the high amount of protein and the low amount of fat and calories it has, tuna is a staple in the diet of many bodybuilders and fitness models.

10. Anchovies

Amount of iron:

3.3 mg / 100 g =  18%  RDA

Note: Anchovies are a small fish that is usually salted and are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids: they provide almost 4 times the RDA  per 100 grams.

They also contain significant amounts of other nutrients: vitamin B3, selenium, calcium, vitamin B2, phosphorus, protein, among others.

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11. Seaweed (Kelp)

Amount of iron:

2.8 mg / 100 g =  16%  RDA

Seaweed is a food usually used in Asian food, which also favors the absorption of iron. They also contain:

Vitamin K: 82% RDA.

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Folic acid: 45% RDA.

Magnesium: 30% RDA.

Calcium: 17% RDA.

Manganese: 10% RDA.

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12. Dried thyme

Amount of iron:

34.6 mg / 28 g (ounce) =  192%  RDA

This seasoning is usually used to give red meat more flavor, it is also used as a tea to improve certain conditions that usually attack the body, it is also considered one of the great sources of iron.

For its part, it also contains the following nutrients:

Vitamin K: 600% RDA.

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Manganese: 110% RDA.

Calcium: 53% RDA.

Vitamin C: 23% RDA.

Vitamin A: 21% RDA.

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Fiber: 10.4 g.

13. Dry Parsley

Amount of iron:

27.4 mg / 28 g (ounce) =  152%  RDA

Parsley counts as one of the green leafy vegetables that contain the most iron.

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Emphasizing that, the consumption of foods that are considered a good source of this mineral, helps to not only improve the levels of iron in the blood but also fights anemia and improves the function of the different systems of the body.

In addition, dried parsley contains:

Vitamin K: 476% RDA.

Manganese: 147% RDA.

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Vitamin A: 57% RDA.

Vitamin C: 57% RDA.

Fiber: 8.5 g.

Protein: 6.3 g.

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14. Dried mint

Amount of iron:

24.5 mg / 28 g (ounce) =  136%  RDA

Iron from foods is absorbed when they are consumed regularly, however it is important to note that if you eat foods that contain iron in large quantities, diseases such as anemia and iron deficiency will decrease significantly.

For its part, mint in its pure state is usually used to improve stomach problems, since it also contains the following nutrients:

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Manganese: 161% RDA.

Vitamin A: 59% RDA.

Calcium: 42% RDA.

Magnesium: 42% RDA.

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Folic acid: 37% RDA.

Vitamin B6: 36% RDA.

Fiber: 8.3 g.

15. Sesame Seeds

Amount of iron:

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14.5 mg / 100 g =  81%  RDA

Although some consider it as part of nuts, it is a seed considered a source of iron due to its high amount of this mineral, where the following also stand out:

Copper: 204% RDA.

Manganese: 123% RDA.

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Calcium: 98% RDA.

Magnesium: 88% RDA.

Phosphorus: 63% RDA.

Vitamin B1: 56% RDA.

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Zinc: 52% RDA.

Vitamin B6: 40% RDA.

Protein: 17.7 g.

Fiber: 11.8 g.

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16. Soybeans / Seeds

Amount of iron:

5.1 mg / 100 g =  29%  RDA

These small and nutritious plant-based foods are seeds rich in iron and the following nutrients:

Manganese: 41% RDA.

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Vitamin K: 24% RDA.

Phosphorus: 24% RDA.

Magnesium: 21% RDA.

Copper: 20% RDA.

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Protein: 16.6 g.

Fiber: 6 g.

17. Oats

Amount of iron:

4.7 mg / 100 g =  26%  RDA

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Oatmeal belongs to the group of healthy and nutritious foods that you can consume, this is because its multiple properties benefit the heart and gastric health. Where it also highlights its contribution of:

Manganese: 246% RDA.

Phosphorus: 52% RDA.

Vitamin B1: 51% RDA.

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Magnesium: 44% RDA.

Protein: 16.9 g.

Fiber: 10.6 g.

18. Spinach

Amount of iron:

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3.6 mg / 100 g cooked spinach =  20%  RDA

Spinach, in addition to providing iron, also benefits brain and heart health, thanks to its great nutritional contribution:

Vitamin K: 617% RDA.

Vitamin A: 210% RDA.

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Manganese: 47% RDA.

Folic acid: 37% RDA

Magnesium: 22% RDA.

Vitamin C: 16% RDA.

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Potassium: 13% RDA.

Protein: 3 g.

Fiber: 2.4 g.

19. Lentils

Amount of iron:

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3.3 g / 100 g cooked lentils =  19%  RDA

Lentils are legumes rich in iron. On the other hand, it is recommended to eat them together with foods that contain vitamin C, since this compound helps the absorption of this mineral, especially in people who suffer from anemia. Within its nutritional information, it highlights:

Folic acid: 45% RDA.

Manganese: 25% RDA.

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Phosphorus: 18% RDA.

Copper: 13% RDA.

Potassium: 11% RDA.

Protein: 9 g.

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20. Dark Chocolate

Amount of iron:

3.3 mg/ounce =  19%  RDA

More than being a dessert, dark chocolate (preferably with low amounts of sugar), has multiple properties, including:

Manganese: 27% RDA.

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Copper: 25% RDA.

Magnesium: 16% RDA.

Fiber: 3.1 g.

Protein: 2.2 g.

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Key takeaways

Iron is a mineral present in certain foods that fulfill the function of maintaining hemoglobin levels and promoting heart health.

There are 2 types of iron, the heme that comes from animals and the non-heme that is of plant origin.

The foods with the highest amount of heme iron are mollusks, saltwater fish, and liver.

The vegetables with the highest amount of non-heme iron are thyme, parsley, and mint, all these herbs are in a dry state.

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