Iron is a mineral used by your body to carry out several different functions, one of which is transporting oxygen throughout your body. Food is the best way to get iron, and most experts recommend an intake of 18 mg a day.
When you don’t get enough iron, it can lead to an iron deficiency. This can cause you to experience anemia, fatigue, and many other symptoms.
Iron isn’t hard to get, however, and the reality is that there are many food options to help you meet the recommended Daily Value (DV). Here are seven foods that are iron-rich and easy to add to your diet.
Spinach is one of the healthiest foods that you can eat. It’s full of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. 100 grams of spinach also has 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the DV (1).
As with other vegetables, spinach is easy to throw into different dishes. It goes great in everything from soups to salads.
‘Legumes’ refers to foods like beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils. Many vegetarians rely on them to get iron and other nutrients, though meat-eaters can also take advantage of their high nutritional content.
One cup of cooked lentils, for example, provides you with 6.6 mg of iron, or 37% of the DV (2). Lentils and other legumes can also help reduce your risk of heart disease (3).
Quinoa is a grain full of protein, folate, magnesium, and many other nutrients. It also comes packed with iron. One cup provides you with 2.8 mg, or 16% of your DV (4).
Given its nutritional value, many health experts consider quinoa to be a superfood.
4. Red meat
If you’re not a vegetarian, one of the best sources of iron is red meat. 3.5 ounces of ground beef provides you with 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the recommended daily intake (5).
In addition to iron, red meat also has a lot of protein, zinc, and vitamin B.
Another great source of iron for vegetarians (and meat-eaters, as well) is tofu. Half a cup of tofu provides you with 3.4 mg, or 19% of the DV (6).
Many Westerners are unfamiliar with tofu, but it’s actually a versatile ingredient. You can add it to stir-fries, soups, and even salads.
Another nutritious vegetable, broccoli contains everything from folate and fiber to vitamins C and K. It also contains a fair amount of iron. One cup of cooked broccoli gives you 6% of the Daily Value, which translates to 1 mg of iron (7).
If you’re looking to cut meat out of your diet, consider becoming a pescatarian. Fish is nutritious, and certain types, like tuna, also contain large amounts of iron. 3 ounces of canned tuna gives you 1.4 mg of iron, or 8% of the recommended daily intake.
In addition to iron, fish also contains niacin, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Give your body what it needs
Iron is one of the many nutrients your body relies on to power through life. Luckily, provided you have a balanced diet, it’s not hard to get.
Make a point to add some of these foods into your diet to ensure you give your body all the iron it needs.