If your mom made you eat liver once a week to “keep your iron up,” then you’re well aware that it’s high on the list of foods with iron, whether you like it or not. If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with anemia or iron deficiency, you may be searching for an alternative food or foods that will boost your intake of this nutritional mainstay.
Meat, Poultry and Seafood
Any lean red meat is a good source of iron, and it is the source most easily absorbed by your body. Of the red meats, mom was right in that the organ meats contain the highest levels of iron. That being said, turkey, chicken, fish, pork and shellfish such as clams and oysters are all good iron sources to include in your diet.
Almonds, peanuts and peanut butter all contain iron; other high-iron legumes are lima beans; peas; red, white and baked beans; and lentils. Kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans are all good iron sources, but the type of iron found in beans isn’t absorbed as well as the type found in meat. It is best to eat beans with a meat dish to obtain the optimum absorption from both.
Popeye had it right: Eat your spinach! Whether raw in a salad or cooked in a quiche (eggs are another good iron source), spinach is high on the vegetable list of iron-rich food. Other dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale as well as collard and mustard greens are high in iron. This is also the type of iron that is not absorbed easily, so try to combine the vegetables with a fruit such as tomatoes that is high in vitamin C and will aid your body in using the iron source.
Fruits and Grains
Many dried fruits are high in iron, especially prunes, raisins, peaches and apricots. When purchasing breads, cereals and pasta, always look for products that have been iron-fortified. Again, the iron is these foods is not readily absorbed and should be eaten with meat or a vitamin C-rich food or juice.