Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron


Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of our body. A slight deficiency of 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. Iron which comes from fruits and vegetables is well regulated by the body, so overdose is rare and usually only occurs when people take supplements. Contrary to popular belief, fruits and vegetables can be a good source of iron, in addition, vitamin C foods, which are mostly fruits and vegetables, help increase the absorption of iron into the body. The current daily value for iron is 18 milligrams (mg). Below is a list of fruits and vegetables high in iron, for more, see the list of fruits and vegetables high in iron by nutrient density, and the extended list of iron rich fruits and vegetables.

#1: Mushrooms (Morel)
Iron 100g Per cup (66g)Per mushroom (13g)
12.18mg (68% DV)8.04mg (45% DV)1.58mg (9% DV)
Other Mushrooms High in Iron (%DV per cup): White Mushrooms, cooked (15%), Chanterelle Mushrooms (10%), Oyster Mushrooms (6%), and Shiitake Mushrooms, cooked (4%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#2: Dried Fruit (Apricots)
Iron 100g Per cup (119g)Per 1/2 cup (60g)
6.31mg (35% DV)7.51mg (42% DV)3.76mg (21% DV)
Other Dried Fruit High in Iron (%DV per cup): Peaches (36%), Prunes & Currants (26%), Raisins (24%), Pears (21%), Figs (17%), and Apples (7%). Note: Dried fruit is high in sugar and calories. Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#3: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (Spinach, cooked)
Iron 100g Per cup (180g)Per 1/2 cup (90g)
3.57mg (20% DV)6.43mg (36% DV)3.22mg (18% DV)
Other Dark Green Leafy Vegetables High in Iron (%DV per cup, cooked): Swiss Chard (22%), Spinach (20%), Beet Greens (15%), Scotch Kale (14%), Dandelion Greens (11%), Pak Choi (10%), and Kale (7%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.



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#4: Olives
Iron 100g Per super-sized olive (15g)Per jumbo olive (8g)
3.32mg (18% DV)0.5mg (3% DV)0.27mg (2% DV)
Five jumbo olives contain just 30 calories and 0.37 grams of saturated fat. Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#5: Beans & Peas (Soybeans, cooked)
Iron 100g Per cup (180g)Per 1/2 cup (90g)
2.5mg (14% DV)4.5mg (25% DV)2.25mg (13% DV)
Other Beans & Peas High in Iron (%DV per cup, cooked): Butter Beans (23%), Mange Tout (21%), Black-eyed Peas (20%), Mange Tout (18%), Green Peas (14%), Mung Beans (13%), Yellow Snap Beans (9%), and Green Snap Beans (5%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#6: Asparagus
Iron 100g Per cup (134g)Per spear (20g)
2.14mg (12% DV)2.87mg (16% DV)0.43mg (2% DV)
A cup of asparagus contains just 27 calories. Click to see complete nutrition facts.



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#7: Berries (Mulberries)
Iron 100g Per cup (140g)Per 10 berries (15g)
1.85mg (10% DV)2.59mg (14% DV)0.28mg (2% DV)
Other Berries High in Iron (%DV per cup): Elderberries (13%), Raspberries (9%), Blackberries (7%), Strawberries (6%), Raspberries, Blackberries, Loganberries & Wild Blueberries (5%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#8: Coconut (Desiccated)
Iron 100g Per 2 oz (56g)Per ounce (28g)
3.32mg (18% DV)1.86mg (10% DV)0.93mg (5% DV)
Other Coconut Products High in Iron (%DV per ounce): Toasted Desiccated Coconut, Creamed Coconut and Coconut Milk (5%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#9: Leeks & Scallions (Leeks)
Iron 100g Per leek (89g)Per slice (6g)
2.1mg (12% DV)1.87mg (10% DV)0.13mg (1% DV)
Scallions (Spring Onions) Are Also High in Iron: with (2% DV) per onion. Click to see complete nutrition facts.



#10: Arugula (Rocket)
Iron 100g Per cup (20g)Per 1/2 cup (10g)
1.46mg (8% DV)0.3mg (2% DV)0.15mg (1% DV)
Other Salad Leaves High in Iron (%DV per cup): Butterhead Lettuce & Garden Cress (4%), Cos or Romaine Lettuce (3%), and Red Leaf Lettuce (2%). Click to see complete nutrition facts.







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Top 10 Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron by Nutrient Density
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#1: Morel Mushrooms 12.18mg (68% DV) per 100 grams8.04mg (45% DV) per cup (66 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Morel Mushrooms
#2: Sundried Tomatoes 9.09mg (51% DV) per 100 grams4.91mg (27% DV) per cup (54 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Sundried Tomatoes
#3: Dried Apricots 6.31mg (35% DV) per 100 grams7.51mg (42% DV) per cup (119 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Dried Apricots
#4: Parsley 6.2mg (34% DV) per 100 grams0.62mg (3% DV) per 10 sprigs (10 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Parsley
#5: Sundried Chilies 6.04mg (34% DV) per 100 grams2.23mg (12% DV) per cup (37 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Sundried Chilies
#6: Spinach (Cooked) 3.57mg (20% DV) per 100 grams6.43mg (36% DV) per cup (180 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Spinach
#7: Jerusalem Artichokes 3.4mg (19% DV) per 100 grams5.1mg (28% DV) per cup, slices (150 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Jerusalem Artichokes
#8: Sprouted Lentils 3.21mg (18% DV) per 100 grams2.47mg (14% DV) per cup (77 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Sprouted Lentils
#9: Olives 3.32mg (18% DV) per 100 grams0.5mg (3% DV) per super-sized olive (15 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Olives
#10: Hearts of Palm 3.13mg (17% DV) per 100 grams4.57mg (25% DV) per cup (146 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Hearts of Palm

Even More Iron Rich Fruits and Vegetables
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Spirulina 28.5mg (158% DV) per 100 gram serving 31.92mg (177% DV) per cup (112 grams) 2.0mg (11% DV) per tablespoon (7 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Spirulina
Tomato Paste 2.98mg (17% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.97mg (11% DV) per 1/4 cup (66 grams) 0.48mg (3% DV) per tablespoon (16 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Tomato Paste
Passion Fruit 1.6mg (9% DV) per 100 gram serving 3.78mg (21% DV) per cup (236 grams) 0.29mg (2% DV) per fruit (18 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Passion Fruit
Prune Juice 1.18mg (7% DV) per 100 gram serving 3.03mg (17% DV) per cup (256 grams) 0.38mg (2% DV) per fluid oz (32 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Prune Juice
Persimmons (Sharon Fruit) 2.5mg (14% DV) per 100 gram serving 0.63mg (4% DV) per fruit (25 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Persimmons
Lemon Grass (Citronella)8mg (45% DV) per 100 gram serving5.5mg (30% DV) per cup (67 grams)0.4mg (2% DV) per tablespoon (5 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Lemon Grass
Dandelion Greens3mg (17% DV) per 100 gram serving1.7mg (10% DV) per cup chopped (55 grams)0.9mg (5% DV) per half-cup chopped (23 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Dandelion Greens
Tamarind (Raw)2.8mg (16% DV) per 100 gram serving3.4mg (19% DV) per cup pulp (120 grams)0.1mg (0% DV) per fruit (2 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Raw Tamarind
Garlic (Raw)1.7mg (9% DV) per 100 gram serving2.3mg (13% DV) per cup (136 grams)0.2mg (1% DV) in 3 cloves (9 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Raw Garlic
Succotash (Corn and Lima Beans)1.5mg (8% DV) per 100 gram serving2.9mg (16% DV) per cup (192 grams)1.5mg (8% DV) in half a cup (96 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Succotash
Sauerkraut1.5mg (8% DV) per 100 gram serving3.5mg (19% DV) per cup (undrained) (236 grams)2.1mg (12% DV) per cup (drained) (142 grams)Click to see complete nutrition facts for Canned Sauerkraut

▼ Factors which Affect Iron Absorption and Retention
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  • The most important factor is your existing iron level. A low iron level will increase absorption, while a high iron level will decrease absorption. In general, you absorb 10-15% of the iron from foods.2
  • Vitamin C will increase the absorption of nonheme iron by as much as 85%.2,3
  • Tannins, oxalates, polyphenols, and phytates found in tea and coffee can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron by up to 65%. Black tea reduces absorption more than green tea and coffee.2,3,4
  • The following teas and beverages also inhibit iron absorption: Peppermint tea, penny royal, cocoa, vervain, lime flower, chamomile, and most other herbal teas with polyphenols.4
  • Calcium, polyphenols, and phytates found in legumes, whole grains, and chocolate can reduce absorption of nonheme iron.
  • Some protein from soy products may inhibit nonheme iron absorption.2
  • Calcium, milk, and antacids can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.5
  • High fiber foods, such as whole grains, raw vegetables, and bran can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.5
  • Foods or drinks with caffeine can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.5

▼ High Risk Groups for an Iron Deficiency
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  • Menstruating Women - Due to blood loss during menstruation women of child bearing age are at risk of iron deficiency, the greater the blood loss the greater the risk.
  • Individuals with Kidney Failure - People with kidney failure, and especially those on dialysis, are at high risk of iron deficiency anemia. This is due to an inability of the kidney to create adequate amounts of the hormone erythropoietin which is necessary for red blood cell creation, and therefore, retaining iron.
  • Pregnant and lactating women - A developing fetus requires a high amount of iron, likewise, there is a high amount of iron lost through breast milk after birth.
  • Older infants and toddlers
  • People with low levels of Vitamin A - Vitamin A greatly helps move iron from storage in the body, without adequate amounts of vitamin A the body cannot regulate iron properly leading to an iron deficiency.
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders - Diarrhea, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal disorders and diseases can lead to an inadequate iron absorption.

▼ Recipes High in Iron for Vegans and Vegetarians
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▼ References
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  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20-27.
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet: Iron
  3. Hallberg L, Rossander L. Effect of different drinks on the absorption of non-heme iron from composite meals. Hum Nutr Appl Nutr. 1982 Apr;36(2):116-23.
  4. Richard F. Hurrell, Manju Reddy, and James D. Cook. Inhibition of non-haem iron absorption in man by polyphenolic-containing beverages. British Journal of Nutrition (1999), 81, 289295
  5. National Library of Medicine Fact Sheet on Taking Iron Supplements.