12 Iron-Rich Foods To Help You Combat Anemia and Low Energy

The Top 12 Iron-Rich Foods to Combat Anemia

Did you know that iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency is the only nutrient deficiency that is prevalent in both developing countries and in industrialized countries. Over 30% of the world’s population is anemic due to iron deficiency. (1)

About 70% of the iron in your body is found in your red blood cells or hemoglobin. The hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron deficiency can cause a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body—a condition called anemia—which results in a lack of oxygen in the various tissues and organs throughout the body.

If you often feel weak, tired, or you generally have low energy, there’s a possibility you may be anemic. Long-term anemia can cause heart problems, pregnancy complications, and even death.

The best way to avoid becoming anemic is to eat iron-rich foods. Luckily, there are many delicious, versatile, and affordable options, so let’s dive in!

RELATED: Where Do You Get Your Iron?

1. Spirulina

Spirulina is a freshwater blue-green algae that grows in bodies of water around the globe. It is one of the oldest living organisms on Earth.

You may recognize spirulina as the bright green powder added to smoothies and drinks for an ethereal Instagram snap. It’s not just photogenic, though. Spirulina is gaining popularity in the health-food world for its incredibly rich and varied nutritional profile.

Spirulina contains over 65 different nutrients. It’s rich in protein and essential vitamins and minerals—not to mention that it’s packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer antioxidants.

But we’re here to recognize its ridiculously high iron content. In a single tablespoon of spirulina, you’ll get 2 mg of iron, which is 11% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). (2)

Add a tablespoon of organic spirulina powder to your smoothie each day, and you’ll significantly reduce your chances of becoming anemic.

2. Clams

You’ll get plenty of iron by eating shellfish of any kind—oysters and mussels included—but clams are especially rich in this essential trace mineral.

One 3-oz serving of clams contains 23.8 mg of iron—well over the recommended 18 mg per day—which is 132% of your RDI.

Clams are also an excellent source of many other nutrients, most notably vitamin B12, with 1401% of your RDI in one serving. You’ll also benefit from its rich store of vitamins A and C, B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

3. Beef Liver

Iron Rich Foods: Beef Liver

If you like organ meats, you won’t have to worry too much about becoming anemic due to iron deficiency. The liver is an excellent source of heme iron, which is iron that comes from animals and is absorbed much more easily into the bloodstream than non-heme iron.

One 3-oz serving of beef liver contains 5.4 mg of iron or 30% of your RDI. But it’s not just iron that you’ll be benefitting from. A serving of liver contains 534% of your RDI of vitamin A and 987% of your RDI of vitamin B12.

4. Bone Broth

bone broth

If you’re looking for an incredibly nutrient-dense food filled with healing properties, you may want to consider cooking a big old pot of bone broth.

There’s a reason this food is a staple in so many different cultures in all parts of the world. It’s packed with amino acids, collagen, immune-boosting nutrients, minerals, and electrolytes.

One bowl of bone broth contains about 4.2 mg of iron, which is 23% of your RDI. It’s an excellent source of protein, vitamins A and C, B-complex vitamins, and many essential minerals.

5. Legumes

That’s right; it’s a whole food group just teeming with many important nutrients, including iron. Legumes—which include beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts—are ridiculously healthy foods that should be included in every diet. They are rich in fiber, protein, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, and so many more nutrients.

Soybeans are one of the best non-animal sources of iron, with 8.8 mg—or 49% of your RDI—in a one-cup serving. Lentils are next, with 6.6 mg—or 37% of your RDI—in one cup.

Legumes are an ideal food for pregnant women who require a higher intake of many nutrients, including fiber to prevent constipation; protein for the growing baby; iron for their increase in blood volume; folate (also known in its synthetic form as folic acid) for baby’s DNA synthesis and brain development; and so many more nutrients found in legumes.

RELATED: Moms Who Take Iron During Pregnancy Have Smarter Kids

6. Leafy Green Vegetables

Iron Rich Foods: Spinach

Some of the best iron-rich foods fall under the leafy green umbrella. This is great news for all you plant-based dieters, vegans, vegetarians—and humans in general—out there.

Dark, leafy greens include spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, beet greens, and more.

One cup of cooked spinach contains 6.4 mg of iron or 36% of your RDI. You’ll also get 377% of your RDI of vitamin A and 1111% of your RDI of vitamin K. In addition, spinach contains folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and other nutrients.

RELATED: Kale – Best Vegan Source of Iron

7. Seeds

If you’re a fan of tiny foods with big nutritional profiles, you’re in luck. Certain seeds are excellent sources of iron, especially sesame, hemp, pumpkin, and flax seeds.

Sesame seeds are a great source of iron, with 4.1 mg or 23% of your RDI in a 1-oz (28-gram) serving. If you’re not about to eat spoonfuls of sesame seeds, opt for sesame butter—tahini—to use as a spread, dip, or dressing. One tablespoon of tahini contains 7% of your RDI of iron.

One ounce of hemp seeds contains 2.7 mg of iron, and the same amount of pumpkin and flax seeds contains 2 mg and 1.6 mg of iron, respectively.

8. Beef

Beef is a great source of heme iron. When possible, choose grass-fed beef over grain-fed beef, because it contains a higher concentration of nutrients, including precursors to vitamins A and E as well as important antioxidants.

One 3-oz serving of beef contains 2.5 mg of iron or 14% of your recommended daily intake.

9. Oats

Get your iron in first thing in the morning with a hearty bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal. Oats are incredibly nutritious, filling, and versatile, and they fit in perfectly with almost any diet.

One cup of oatmeal made from old-fashioned or steel-cut oats contains 3.4 mg of iron, for 19% of your RDI. In addition, oats are rich in many essential minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Oats are also known as a heart-healthy food, so a bowl of oatmeal is a great choice for people looking to reduce blood pressure levels.

10. Quinoa

Fight anemia and low energy with this iron-rich pseudo-cereal. Quinoa looks like a grain and feels like a grain, but its nutty flavor hints to its true identity. It’s actually a seed harvested from a plant called goosefoot.

 This superfood is a great source of many important minerals, including iron. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 2.8 mg of iron or 15% of your RDI. It’s also rich in B-complex vitamins and in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

RELATED: Recipe for Health: Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad

11. Dark Chocolate

Iron Rich Foods: Dark Chocolate

We have the ultimate evidence that it’s healthy to treat yourself once in a while, and if this isn’t proof, then we don’t know what is.

Dark chocolate is a surprisingly nutritious food. It’s full of disease-fighting antioxidants and it’s an excellent source of iron.

A 1-oz (28-gram) serving of dark chocolate contains 3.3 mg of iron or 19% of your RDI. That’s more iron than you’ll get from a 3-oz serving of beef!

12. Prunes

Fruit is not necessarily the food group to focus on when you’re trying to increase your iron intake. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule.

Prunes and prune juice contain a respectable amount of iron. Drink a cup of prune juice, and you’ll benefit from 3 mg of iron, or 17% of your RDI. A cup of prunes contains 1.6 mg of iron. As an added bonus, your digestive tract will kick into high gear!

Focus on adding iron-rich foods to your diet, and you won’t need to worry about taking iron supplements, which are known to cause some nasty and uncomfortable side effects. Thankfully, these foods can help you avoid that!



  1. http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ida/en/
  2. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2765/2

More Information:

–  https://draxe.com/top-10-iron-rich-foods/

–  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/iron-rich-plant-foods

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