Nutrition

The Best 7 Foods To Eat For Iron

Make sure you get enough iron in your diet with these healthy and delicious foods.

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Between 2% and 10% of U.S. adults live with an iron deficiency.

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Red blood cells need iron to function correctly. Without enough iron, a person can become anemic. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, and weakness.

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Men age 19 to 40 need around 8 mg of iron per day, while adults who menstruate require 18 mg per day to maintain healthy iron levels.

National Institutes of Health

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Taking iron supplements can be dangerous because our bodies don’t excrete iron quickly. Too much iron in your system can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, and even more severe symptoms the longer iron builds up. The best way to improve your iron levels is through a healthy diet.

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What foods are high in iron?

Dark leafy greens, broccoli, red meat, shellfish, legumes, liver, and dark chocolate are all full of iron.

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Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, and collard and beet greens pack a nutritional punch with 2.5 to 6.4 mg of iron per cup after cooking, or 31% to 80% of the recommended dietary intake for men and 14% to 36% for women.

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Broccoli

Broccoli is a proven winner with 1 to 1.8 mg of iron per cup after cooking, or 13% to 23% of the recommended dietary intake for men and 6% to 10% for women.

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Red Meat

One 3.5-ounce serving of beef contains almost 3 mg of iron, which is 38% of the recommended dietary intake for men and 17% for women.

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Shellfish

Mussels, clams, and oysters are all good sources of iron, providing as much as 3 mg of iron per 3.5-ounce serving, or 38% of men’s recommended dietary intake and 17% of women’s.

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Legumes

Lentils are iron powerhouses, providing as much as 83% of men’s recommended dietary intake and 37% of women’s, or 6.6 mg of iron, per cup of cooked lentils. Beans, peas, chickpeas, and black-eyed peas are great options.

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Liver

A 3-ounce serving of beef liver provides 15.2 mg of iron. But be careful, because beef liver is so full of nutrients that eating too much of it can result in vitamin A and copper toxicity.

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Dark Chocolate

One ounce of dark chocolate provides 43% of men’s recommended dietary intake and 19% of women’s, or 3.4 mg of iron.

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