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Iron-rich foods: list of all iron-rich foods

  1. Iron-rich food is an essential part of a healthy diet. The mineral iron plays an important role in various processes in the body. This is not only about the quality of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, but iron-containing food also has a beneficial effect on the functioning of myoglobin, various enzymes and the immune system. Yet about a third of the world's population is iron deficient and many people are anemic. Fortunately, there are many healthy foods that naturally contain a good amount of iron. This list shows exactly which ones they are. Iron in food comes in two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. The benefits of a healthy iron-rich diet are even better if a number of factors that promote or reduce the absorption of iron in the body are taken into account.

Iron-rich food and good health

  1. Good health is not possible without an iron-rich diet. The main effect of iron-containing food is the improved effect of hemoglobin, a protein found in the red blood cells of humans. It carries oxygen and carbon dioxide from the lungs to all parts of the body. The more iron is present in the blood, the more hemoglobin particles can be formed. About two-thirds of the iron you eat is consumed in this process. These hemoglobin particles are then linked to oxygen (oxyhemoglobin). Iron-rich food is therefore often the solution for anemia.

Iron deficiency

  1. An iron deficiency can in some cases develop acutely if your body loses a lot of blood (think of surgery or injury). But usually an iron deficiency only occurs when too little iron is consumed for a long time. When this happens, the body is slowly depleting supplies and can sometimes lead to iron deficiency anemia (a form of anemia). Iron deficiency is especially dangerous during pregnancy; it can even cause a baby to be born too early or too small.

Recommended Daily Allowance List: How Much Iron Per Day?

  1. In principle, the average body only needs 1.5 mg of iron per day to function properly. Still, much more iron needs to be consumed daily to achieve this goal. This is because the body only absorbs a small amount of the iron eaten. This is partly due to the difference between heme iron and non-heme iron and due to promoting and reducing factors. A relatively large amount of iron is also needed in babies, in children in the growing period and during pregnancy. 100% RDA is the amount you need in a day.

Vulnerable groups

  1. Although these values ​​are perfect guidelines, there are a few groups that are more likely to have an iron deficiency and therefore need to get more iron:

Heme iron and non-heme iron

  1. Iron in food usually comes in two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in meat and has a very good absorption capacity. About 25% of this form is absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is almost always associated with plants and can be absorbed much worse (1 to 10% is absorbed).

List of iron-rich foods: what contains a lot of iron?

  1. Of course there is iron in many food products, but some products are extra healthy because the iron content is naturally very high. The following lists contain products that contain a lot of iron. The penultimate column shows the RDA of an adult man (9 mg) and the last column shows the RDA of an adult woman (15 mg). 100% RDA is the amount you need in a day. This list of iron-rich foods is made up of various sources.

Iron-rich fish

  1. Almost all fish species contain iron, but the fish species below are very rich in iron. Because fish contains the animal heme iron, it is a good source of iron. Sea fish generally contains a lot of iron. Molluscs (cockles, mussels and oysters) are particularly rich in iron. It is also striking that fried mussels provide more iron than uncooked mussels.

Iron-rich meat and iron-rich meat products

  1. All meat contains iron, but the meats below are particularly rich in iron. Meat also contains the animal heme iron. Especially the liver of chicken, pig and cow is very rich in iron. Sausage also contains a relatively large amount of iron. Red meat usually provides more iron than white meat.

Iron-rich vegetables

  1. Although vegetables contain the non-heme iron, they are still part of an iron-rich diet. It is striking that dried vegetables are very rich in iron. Especially parsley, basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary provide a lot of iron. But because these are very light and not used in large quantities, you will not be taking advantage of them anytime soon.

Iron-rich fruit

  1. The same applies to fruit as to vegetables; dried fruit contains more iron than fresh fruit. This is because the non-heme iron is made more available after drying for a long time. Dried apricots, figs, dates and plums are particularly rich in iron. But fresh fruit can also be good. The following fruits are all iron rich.

Iron-rich breads and cereals

  1. The following grains are iron-rich and contain more than 1 mg iron per hundred grams. For breakfast, muesli, which provides more iron than brown bread, is a good source of iron. Wheat in particular is particularly rich in iron.

Iron-rich beans

  1. Type of Iron per 100 grams% of RDA man% of RDA woman kidney beans 6.4 mg 71% 43% lima bean 4.2 mg 47% 28% white beans 2.0 mg 22% 13% kidney beans 2.0 mg 22% 13% green beans 0.8 mg 9% 5% broad beans (prepared) 0.8 mg 9% 5% string beans 0.5 mg 6% 3% snow peas 0.5 mg 6% 3%

Iron-rich nuts, kernels and seeds

  1. Type of Iron per 100 grams% of RDA man% of RDA woman poppy seed 30.0 mg 333% 200% sesame paste (tahini) 11.5 mg 128% 77% pumpkin seeds 10.0 mg 111% 67% sesame seeds 9.1 mg 101% 61% pistachios 7.0 mg 78% 47% teff seed 5.8 mg 64% 39% sunflower seeds 5.5 mg 61% 37% pine nuts 5.0 mg 56% 33% almonds 4.1 mg 46% 27% hazelnuts 3.8 mg 42% 25% Brazil nuts 3.4mg 38% 23% cashew nuts 2.8 mg 31% 19% pecans 2.5 mg 28% 17% peanuts 2.1 mg 23% 14% walnuts 2.0 mg 22% 13% macadamia nuts 0.3 mg 14% 2%

Other iron-rich foods

  1. Type of Iron per 100 grams% of RDA man% of RDA woman seaweed (dried) 40 mg 444% 267% cinnamon 38 mg 422% 253% apple syrup (rinse) 14.0 mg 156% 93% cocoa powder 12.5 mg 139% 83% chili powder 12.5 mg 139% 83% chocolate sprinkles (dark) 8 mg 89% 53% egg yolk 7.2 mg 80% 48% pickles (sweet and sour) 4.5 mg 50% 30% almond paste 2.0 mg 22% 13%

Promoting factors

  1. Not only does the shape of the iron influence the extent to which iron is absorbed, but there are also a number of factors that can lead to a better absorption. The most important of these is eating vitamin C (mainly found in fruits and vegetables). This allows more iron to be absorbed. Proteins from meat can also ensure that more is absorbed. Research has also shown that non-heme iron from plants is absorbed up to 25 percent better when the food is cooked. It is also important to take enough vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and folic acid (vitamin B11).

Reducing factors

  1. However, there are also a number of things that can negatively affect the absorption of iron from food. For example, eating a lot of soy products leads to a reduced effect of non-heme iron. Calcium and phosphorus and phytic acid (from grains) can also provide this. Tannin - which is in tea, coffee and wine - also has a bad effect, because it binds to iron particles in the intestines so that they are no longer available for absorption. Recent research also shows that a high dose of vitamin A has a reducing effect. The iron is absorbed, but cannot be released with physical use because vitamin A keeps it in a 'storehouse'.

Too much iron

  1. Fortunately, an acute overdose of iron almost never occurs. However, too much iron can be present in the body in the long term, for example when people take a high dose of iron supplements for a certain period of time. This is because part of the iron eaten is not used immediately, and the body uses the liver and spleen as a storage place for excess iron. If symptoms do occur, they are mainly intestinal problems and diarrhea. In such a situation it is wise to see a doctor. With too much iron, one should think of an amount of 50-75 mg per day.


  1. Iron is one of the healthy products because it is not only necessary for various life processes, but also because iron-rich food can offer a good solution against certain ailments. So iron is definitely part of a healthy diet.

Sources and reliability

  1. The data from this foodstuffs table comes from two good sources ( and Nevertheless, it should be noted that some producers state a different (often higher) iron value in their product information. Also, some websites claim that a certain product is very healthy because it contains a lot of iron, when in reality a much lower percentage of it is absorbed.

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