Iron is an essential mineral that is found in certain foods. The mineral of iron comes in two forms; haem and non-haem. Haem types of iron are more easily absorbed than non-haem. Iron is used by the red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the blood. It is essential to obtain enough iron from your diet. To do this it is important to know the foods that are high in iron.
Which foods are high in iron?
The two types of iron are obtained from different food sources. Haem iron is found in animal products such as meats, poultry and seafood. This type of iron is the most easily absorbed by the body. Non-haem iron is obtained from plant sources such as leafy green vegetables and dried fruit. It is also found in molasses. This type of iron is more difficult for the body to absorb, which means that more needs to be consumed to reach healthy amounts.
The foods that are the highest source of haem iron include:
- Animal liver (30.5mg per 100g)
- Clams (28mg per 100g), oysters (12mg per 100g) and mussels (6.72mg per 100g)
- Caviar (11.9mg per 100g)
- Shrimp/Prawns (3.1mg per 100g)
- Lean beef (2.9mg per 100g)
- Dark turkey meat (2.3 mg per 100g)
- Chicken (1mg per 100g)
The Foods that are the highest source of non-haem iron include:
- Dried herbs such as thyme (124mg per 100g)
- Cocoa powder (36mg per 100g)
- Dried pumpkin seeds (15mg per 100g)
- Tahini and aesame seeds (14.8mg per 100g)
- Sundried tomatoes (9.1 mg per 100g)
- Dried apricots (6.3 mg per 100g)
- Sunflower seeds (5.3mg per 100g)
- Soybeans (5.1mg per 100g)
- Molasses (4.7mg per 100g)
- Spinach (3.6mg per 100g)
- Lentils (3.3mg per 100g)
- Tofu (2.7mg per 100g)
(note: all values are approximate)
Eating foods high in vitamin C when consuming iron rich foods will ensure that the iron is absorbed and used by the body. These foods include oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, broccoli, potato, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes.