Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen in red blood cells. Deficiency of this mineral can lead to tiredness, dizziness, and even anemia.
Our diet plays a vital role in meeting our daily iron requirements and boosting our iron levels. Fortunately, there are plenty of good food choices to help us meet our daily iron needs.
Carotenoids are also richly found in this leafy vegetable. These are antioxidants that may help reduce our risk of cancer, decrease inflammation, and protect our eyes from disease (3).
Some of the well-known legumes are beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas. They are good sources of iron as one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 6.6 mg, which is 37% of the DV. What’s more? These superfoods are also high in folate, magnesium, and potassium.
Studies also revealed that consuming legumes may help reduce inflammation in people with diabetes and decrease heart disease risk for people with metabolic syndrome (4).
Essential nutrients are contained in bivalve mollusks such as mussels, clams, squid, and oysters. In addition to vitamin B12 and zinc, a single medium oyster contains 3-5 mg of iron. Common finfish, such as salmon, haddock, and tuna, are also good sources (5).
Organ meats are a great source of vital nutrients, including iron.
Chicken liver, for example, contains 7.62 mg of iron per a regular 3-oz serving. Meanwhile, Beef liver has 4.15 mg of iron, and pork liver sausage has 5.44 mg in the same serving (6).
How Our Body Uses Iron In Food
Iron is absorbed into our body mainly through the upper part of our small intestine.
There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Our body absorbs the most iron from heme sources. On the other hand, nonheme iron is from plant sources (7).