Super Food Sources of Iron

One of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world is iron deficiency, particularly in technologically advanced countries. It is useful to know a little more about dietary iron and where to get it.

There are two forms of dietary iron. One is called heme iron and the other is called non-heme iron. Heme iron is easier for the body to digest and to use and it comes from animal sources. Non-heme iron isn’t as efficient and it comes from plants. In sufficient quantities, non-heme iron sources still supply iron to the body.

The following gallery is a follow-up of an article that explained a little more about iron deficiency. I thought it might be helpful to have something visual, showing the best sources of iron. This is mostly because people tend to be visual creatures and are more likely to remember something that is presented in picture form.

Do you include these in your diet?


Oysters, clams, and mussels are all quite high in iron. Three ounces of shellfish contain in excess of 3.5 mg of iron. This is primarily heme iron, so it is easily metabolized. Shellfish also contains other minerals that are needed by the body.

Cooked Beef

Cooked beef, venison, and elk are moderately high in heme iron. A 3-ounce portion contains over 2.1 mg. Venison and elk tend to be higher in iron than beef because they are leaner and don't contain as much fat as beef does.

  1. I do too, Tony. I’m quite fond of venison and elk. I didn’t mention it, but bear meat is exceptionally high in iron. In fact, people need to exercise care if they eat bear liver. It is so high in iron that they can actually overdose.

Salmon, Sea Perch, and Halibut

Although not nearly as high in heme iron as shellfish, many ocean fish still contain a lot of iron. Salmon, sea perch, halibut, haddock, and similar fish have over .7 mg of iron per three-ounce serving.


Spinach is added to the list mostly because it is well-known as being high in iron. Truth is that spinach isn't exceptionally high in iron as once thought. A cup of raw spinach has around 1 mg of iron and cooked spinach has somewhat less. However, spinach and Swiss chard, which is very similar in vitamin and mineral content, are both readily available in most locations. Besides, a list of high-iron foods would somehow not seem complete without including spinach.

All ten of these foods is high in iron, which most people don't get enough of in their diet. Which are your favorites?

Turkey and Chicken

Turkey and chicken both contain over .7 mg of iron per three-ounce serving. Fried, boiled, baked, roasted, or barbecued, poultry is a good source of iron.

Oats, Wheat, and Barley

Oats, wheat, and barley, also called cereal grains, contain a good deal of non-heme iron. If they are iron-fortified, they usually contain over 3.5 mg of iron per 3-ounce serving. As an added advantage, they are also high in B vitamins.

Cooked Dried Beans

Dried beans, once cooked, are excellent sources of iron. The picture is of chili con carne and it is used because hamburger is also high in iron. Chili con carne contains both heme iron and non-heme iron. Either way, cooked dried beans contain over 3.5 mg of iron per cup.

Baked Potatoes

It might come as a surprise to some people, but baked potatoes are high in non-heme iron. One medium baked potato contains around 2 mg of iron. A baked potato actually contains more iron than a cup of raw spinach.

Raisins and Other Dried Fruit

Grapes, cherries, and peaches all contain iron, so it isn't surprising that the dried fruits have an even higher iron content. A half-cup of raisins contains close to 1 mg of iron.

Brown Rice

Cooked brown rice is a good source of non-heme iron. One cup of brown rice contains over .8 mg of iron. Many other high-iron foods are excellent when added to the rice, too.

What do you think?

6 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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