Iron is an extremely important mineral for several metabolic processes in humans. The most commonly known function is oxygen transportation as red blood cells (RBC) need iron to make haemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen and transporting it around the body.
The lack of a sufficient supply of iron may result in a feeling of fatigue and possibly even lead to anaemia. Deficiency of iron can also affect our immune system. There are two types of iron: haem and non-haem, found only in animal flesh and plant foods respectively. The latter may appear less bioavailable in terms of absorption, but consuming vitamin C together with it can help to better absorb iron. Iron cannot be made in the human body and can only be obtained from our diet. Therefore, it is crucial that we ensure we are eating the right foods to achieve the desired iron level in our blood. Continue on for Iron: 5 Very High-Content Food Sources!
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron by the British Diabetic Association for adult females is 14.8mg, and 8.7mg for males. The below list of food sources are among those from which we can obtain high levels of iron. The amount of iron stated may differ from sources depending on the condition of the food when tested. (The data used below is sourced from FoodData Central.)
1. Soy-Based Foods (Iron: 5.4 – 8.6mg per 100g)
Foods made from soybeans are products such as tofu and natto (fermented soybean). Not only are they packed with iron, they are also a good source of nutrients such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. However, soya milk is less likely to contain as much iron as other soy products unless it is fortified.
2. Other Beans (Iron: 1.9mg – 10.9mg per 100g)
There is a wide range of varying iron content amongst the bean family. The highest ranking are moth beans (10.9mg/100g) and on the lower end of the scale, fava beans (1.6mg/100g). Aside from providing iron, they serve as a good alternative of complex carbs and fibre. In addition, they’re a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, and other essential minerals.
3. Lentils (Iron: 3.3 – 7mg per 100g)
The iron content of lentils varies depending on if it is raw, cooked, or canned. This is another excellent food to help meet our iron requirements whilst providing a good source of complex carbs, protein, fibre, and other minerals and elements.
4. Nuts & Seeds (Iron: 2.9 – 14.6mg per 100g)
As mentioned in a recent article, not only do nuts and seeds provide a good source of protein but they are also an amazing source of iron. For reference, 100g of sesame seeds contain 14.6mg of iron which is nearly 100% of your RDI.
5. Spirulina (Iron: 28.5mg per 100g)
Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in both fresh and salt water. Aside from iron, it is generally high in several other nutrients for example vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and copper. It also possesses significant antioxidant properties from its phycocyanin component which acts as an anti-inflammatory substance.
Additionally, fortified breakfast cereals are also another excellent way of ensuring that you get all of your iron needs met for the day. However, please do check the labels for their exact iron content as the amount may differ between manufacturers. Overall, there are many plant foods that provide a great source of iron.
Adopting a balanced and varied diet will help ensure that you consume a sufficient amount of iron on a daily basis. These foods can very easily be incorporated into meals and snacks as they are highly versatile ingredients. What are your fave, high-level iron sources? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!