Iron is an important mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of the body. A deficiency in iron causes fatigue, anemia and weakness. While a chronic deficiency can lead to organ failure.
Too much iron, on the other hand, interferes with metabolism and leads to production of harmful free radicals, which causes damage to organs like the liver and heart. The body is able to regulate uptake of iron, so overdose is rare and usually only occurs when people take supplements.
Iron from natural food sources, such as the ones listed below, are considered healthy and safe. While iron is better absorbed from heme or meat sources, non-heme or plant iron is better regulated, which causes less damage to the body.
10 Iron-Rich Foods
1. Black Beans
Black beans are loaded in iron, as well as fiber and protein. It provides “time-released” energy in the form of starches, which makes them a good carbohydrate source for anyone who has a form of resistance to insulin, such as those who are prediabetic or have diabetes.
2. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is one healthy dessert option. All you need is one ounce to fulfill almost 20% of your daily iron requirements. An ounce contains 3.3 milligrams iron (19% DV).
3. Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef is a great meat source of heme iron, as well as many other key nutrients. Also, grass-fed beef is also higher in precursors for vitamin E and, along with cancer-fighting antioxidants, as compared to grain-fed beef.
Lentil is another legume worth adding for your daily iron requirements. Cooked lentils contains over 6 mg of iron per cup and are loaded with fiber that fills you up, helps keep blood sugar levels stable and lowers cholesterol.
Organ meats such as liver are one of the best sources of heme iron, with additional bonus of other vitamins, protein and minerals. Beef liver is loaded in iron at 5 mg per slice, which is over a quarter of an adult woman’s daily requirement. Pork liver is also a smart option, becauwe it is slightly leaner and has vitamin C and higher iron.
Bivalve mollusks such as mussels, clams, squid and oysters, are filled with the essential nutrient, plus vitamin B12 and zinc. A single medium oyster contains 3-5 mg of iron.
If oysters, clams and mussels are not on your regular menu, common fin fish, such as salmon, haddock and tuna, are also good sources, although they are not as high in iron as mollusks.
Nutrient-dense pistachios are superior, when it comes to those looking for healthy snack ideas for weight control and weight loss. Just 1 ounce or 49 pistachios kernels, provides iron, high levels of vitamin B6 (25%), copper (20%) and thiamine (20%). Pistachios are one of the known best nut sources of iron.
8. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a tasty, portable snack. A 1-ounce or 28-gram serving of pumpkin seeds contains 4.2 mg of iron, which is 23% of the RDI.
Also, pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, vitamin K and manganese. They are also among the good sources of magnesium, which many people are deficient in.
Cooked and raw spinach are excellent sources of iron. Though cooking spinach helps your body asbsorb the nutrients more easily.
Just one cup of cooked spinach provides more than 6 mg of iron as well as fiber, protein, vitamins A, E and calcium. Spinach is an easy ingredient to sneak into your recipes, for that iron-boost.
Tofu is a soy-based food that is common among vegetarians and in some Asian countries. It provides 19% of the RDI for iron per serving, plus it is rich in minerals and protein.
Also, the isoflavones in it may help improve heart health and relieve menopausal symptoms.