What foods are high in iron?

Iron is essential to life. It contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and plays an important role in normal energy metabolism, cognitive function and immune function. You can find iron in meat, poultry, and plant-based foods as well as in supplements. There are two types of iron in foods.

  • Heme iron is the type your body absorbs best, so it’s a good idea to especially focus on these foods to help keep your iron levels up during pregnancy. You get heme iron in beef, chicken, turkey, pork and fish.
  • Nonheme iron is the other type, which you can find in beans, vegetables (spinach), tofu, dried fruits, eggs, whole grains and ready-to-eat-cereals that have added iron.

Iron-rich foods include:

  • meat
  • dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
  • iron-fortified bread
  • beans
  • nuts
  • apricots
  • prunes
  • raisins

If you have iron deficiency anaemia, eat plenty of iron-rich foods, such as those listed above.

Interestingly, what you consume with your iron can affect how well your body absorbs the mineral. While you eat foods that are high in iron, have them with foods that contain Vitamin C, such as tomatoes and oranges. Vitamin C helps your body absorb nonheme iron better when you eat both at the same meal.

On the other hand, certain drinks and foods prevent your body from absorbing iron. These include coffee, tea, milk, whole grains, and dairy products. Try not to eat these foods at the same meal when you're eating foods high in iron. For example, instead of having coffee or tea with your breakfast cereal, have a glass of orange juice.