Top 10 Foods Highest in Iron

Top 10 Foods Highest in Iron

Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of the body. A slight deficiency in iron causes anemia (fatigue/weakness), and a chronic deficiency can lead to organ failure. Conversely, too much iron leads to production of harmful free radicals, and interferes with metabolism, causing damage to organs like the heart and liver. 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, like the ones listed below, are considered safe and healthy. While iron is better absorbed from heme (meat) sources, non-heme (plant) iron is better regulated causing less damage to the body. High iron foods include clams, liver, sunflower seeds, nuts, beef, lamb, beans, whole grains, dark leafy greens (spinach), dark chocolate, and tofu. The current daily value (DV) for iron is 18 milligrams (mg). Below is a list of high iron foods. For more high iron foods see the lists of high iron foods by nutrient density, iron rich foods (heme and non-heme), and the list of fruits and vegetables high in iron.

#1: Liver (Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Beef)
Iron in 100g4oz Serving (113g)1 ounce (28g)
23mg (129% DV)26mg (146% DV)7mg (36% DV)
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#2: Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
Iron in 100g1 cup (227g)1 ounce (142 seeds) (28g)
15mg (83% DV)34mg (188% DV)4mg (23% DV)
Other Seeds High in Iron (%DV per ounce (28g)): Sesame (23%), Sunflower (11%), and Flax (9%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#3: Mollusks (Oysters, Mussels, Clams)
Iron in 100g3oz (85g)1 Medium Oyster (25g)
9.2mg (51% DV)7.8mg (43% DV)2.3mg (13% DV)
Similar Foods High in Iron (%DV per 3oz (85g)): Cuttlefish (51%), Whelk(48%), Octopus (45%), Mussels (32%), Abalone (18%), and Scallops (14%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.


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#4: Nuts (Cashew, Pine, Hazelnut, Peanut, Almond)
Iron in 100g1 cup (129g)1 ounce (18 cashews) (28g)
6.1mg (34% DV)7.8mg (43% DV)1.7mg (9% DV)
Other Nuts High in Iron (%DV per ounce (28g)): Pine nuts(9%), Hazelnuts (7%), Peanuts (7%), Almonds (7%), Pistachios (7%), and Macadamia (6%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#5: Beef and Lamb (Lean Chuck Roast)
Iron in 100g1 lb roast (454g)3 ounce serving (85g)
3.8mg (21% DV)17mg (96% DV)3.2mg (18% DV)
13% DV Iron in 3oz (85g) of Lean Lamb Roast. Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#6: Beans and Pulses (White Beans, Lentils)
Iron in 100g1 cup cooked (179g)1 Tablespoon (11g)
3.7mg (21% DV)6.6mg (37% DV)0.5mg (2% DV)
Other Beans High in Iron (%DV per cup cooked): Soybeans (49%), Lentils (37%), Kidney beans (29%), Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas) (26%), and Lima beans (25%), Navy (24%), Black Beans (Frijoles Negros) (20%), Pinto (20%), and Black-eyed Peas (20%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.


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#7: Whole Grains, Fortified Cereals, and Bran
Iron in 100g of Quinoa1 cup of Quinoa (185g)
1.5mg (8% DV)2.8mg (15% DV)
Other Grains High in Iron (%DV per cup cooked): Oatmeal (12%), Barley (12%), Rice (11%), Bulgur (10%), Buckwheat (7%), and Millet (6%). Fortified cereals provide up to 140% DV of iron per cup. Check nutrition facts, and also be careful of the high sugar level in commercial cereals. Bran from whole grains can harm absorption of iron supplements, while whole grains are a good source of iron, they should not be consumed with iron supplements. Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#8: Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach, Swiss Chard)
Iron in 100g1 cup of Cooked Spinach (180g)
3.6mg (20% DV)6mg (36% DV)
Other Greens High in Iron (%DV per cup): Cooked Swiss Chard (22%), Cooked Turnip Greens (16%), Raw Kale (6%), and Raw Beet Greens (5%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#9: Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Iron in 100g1 cup grated (132g)1 Square (29g)
17mg (97% DV)23mg (128% DV)5mg (28% DV)
1 cup of Cocoa Powder provides 66% DV. A 1.5oz (44g) candy chocolate bar provides 6% DV. Click to see complete nutrition facts.


#10: Tofu
Iron in 100g1 cup of firm tofu (126g)1/4 Block (81g)
2.7mg (15% DV)3.4mg (19% DV)2.2mg (12% DV)
Calcium can interfere with non-heme iron absorption. Try to buy tofu without added calcium for greater iron absorption. Click to see complete nutrition facts.





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Click each heading for more info...

High Iron Foods by Nutrient Density (Iron per Gram)
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Other Iron Rich Foods (Non-Heme)
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▼ Even More Iron Rich Foods (Heme)
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Heme Iron vs. Non-Heme Iron
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▼ Factors which Affect Iron Absorption and Retention
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▼ High Risk Groups for an Iron Deficiency
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▼ Recipes High in Iron
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▼ Warnings
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▼ Comments
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▼ References
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