Plant-based foods rich in iron

Vegetarian food sources of iron




Veal liver (18 mg)

Blood sausage (8 mg)

Beef (7 mg)

Foie gras (6 mg)

Spanish Ham (5 mg)

Pork loin (4 mg)

Ham (2 mg)



Clams, cockles (14 mg)

Mussels (5 mg)

Shrimps and prawns (3 mg)

Oysters (3 mg)

Sardines in oil (3 mg)

Tuna in oil (1,2 mg)



Egg yolk (7,2 mg)

Quail egg (4 mg)

Egg (2 mg)

Egg custard, “flan” (1 mg)

Egg white (0,2 mg)


Lácteos y derivados

Goat cheese (1 mg)

Manchego cheese (0,8 mg)

Roquefort cheese (0,6 mg)

Gouda cheese (0,5 mg)

Yoghourt and milk (0,1 mg)

Dairy products are very low in iron, but they provide high doses of vitamin B12. This vitamin is important to prevent and treat anemia (especially in vegetarian diets).



Lentils , Beans (8 mg)

Chickpeas (7 mg)

Sunflower seeds, Pistachios (7 mg)

Peas, quinoa (5 mg)

Almonds and hazelnuts (4 mg)

Tofu (4 mg)

Peanuts (3 mg)

Walnuts, Cashews (3 mg)

Brown Bread (2,5 mg)

White Bread (1,7 mg)



Dried apricots (6 mg)

Shredded coconut (4 mg)

Chard, Spinach (3 mg)

Raisins, Dates (2 mg)

Cabbage, Artichoke (2 mg)

Currants, Blackberries (1,5 mg)

Beet (1 mg)

Fruits and vegetables aren’t rich in iron. However, they contain vitamin C and folic acid that are essential to treat anemia. Vitamin C increases iron absorption. Folic acid prevents megaloblastic anemia. It means that we should combine fruits with iron-rich foods in order to absorb more iron.

(The iron content is expressed in mg. per 100g. of food)


How Should I Eat to Manage Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Anemia recommedations iron food sources vitamin c folic acidRecommendations for anemia

Diet is a very important fact to treat anemia. First of all, we must explain that animal foods are the best source of dietary iron.

Animal source food like meat products, fish or seafood, contain heme iron (that it is chemically represented as Fe2+).

Heme iron is used by the body to form red blood cells. The absorption of this iron, that it’s found in animal source foods, is very high.

However, vegetables contain non-heme iron (Fe 3 +), a type of iron harder to assimilate for the body because the absorption is lower. It has to be converted in heme iron by the body to form blood cells.

Some factors such as vitamin C and vitamin A or beta-carotene, help to convert non-heme iron into heme iron, increasing its absorption.

For this reason it is important to combine the lentils and vegetable iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, tangerine or mangoes.

Vegetarian people or people who simply do not like meat should be aware that animal foods (except dairy products and eggs) are the best source of dietary iron.

For those people who don’t like meat, fish and seafood it is recommended. in case of not taking these foods, to look for medical supervision. They will probably need iron supplements and planning their diet very well in order to avoid nutritional deficits.

Spinach for anemia

Garbanzos con espinacasRecommended recipe: Chickpeas with spinach

Spinach are rich in iron, although there are many other better iron-rich foods. But the main benefits of spinach for anemia are that they are also rich in folic acid. Folic acid contributes along with vitamin B12 and iron to the formation of red blood cells.

People with anemia should not forget to take spinach and chard in their diet to recover from illness.

More benefits of eating these vegetables are that due to its high fiber content they help to maintain healthy intestinal flora. It contributes to better absorption of all nutrients from the diet (including iron).

Lentils for anemia

Ensalada de lentejasLentils salad

Lentils are generally recommended for anemia because of its high iron content. They provide 8 mg. iron per 100g. (dry weight) and they are the richest source of iron grains.

To increase the absorption of this iron it is recommended to combine lentils with fruits or foods rich in beta-carotene. For example: a dessert fruit, side salad, papaya, etc..

Take a fruit dessert to absorb iron

It is recommended to take a fruit dessert, fruit salad or to drink natural fruit juice with meals. This is because raw vegetables, especially fruits, provide high doses of vitamin C that increases iron absorption.

The most recommended fruits are citrus fruits: Orange juice, grapefruit, kumquats, tangerines, etc. are very healthy desserts for those people with anemia.

Another way to take a lot of vitamin C is in salads: peppers one of the richest fruits in vitamin C (they contain even more vitamin C than citrus), radishes, arugula, grated turnip, or take lemon juice for dressing salads.

Vegetarianism and anemia

Vegetarian people should take iron supplements for anemia due to the severity of the disease. Vegetarian foods like cereals, beans, dairy, eggs or nuts are low in this mineral.

A balanced diet rich in legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and dried fruit will help to improve anemia.

In these people the medical control will be more important to prevent worsening anemia.

Vegetarians should note that:

– Whole grains are not recommended because they contain phytates that reduce iron absorption.

– They must take dairy products because they contain proteins and vitamin B12. Brewer’s yeast is also rich in iron and contains this vitamin.

– They should take fruits or salads in each meal, because vitamin C increases the absorption of iron.

punto rojoMore information about REMEDIES, NUTRITION, MINERALS AND VITAMINS.


Vitamin B1


Vitamin B2


Vitamin B3


Vitamin B5

(Pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B6


Vitamin B7


Vitamin B9

(Folic acid)

Vitamin B12


InositolPABALipoic acid
This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

7 May, 2021

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