By

Jennifer Low is a Registered Dietitian, with an MSc in Nutrition and a degree in Psychology. Clinically she specialises in disordered eating, bariatric surgery and IBS.

Why we need iron
Iron is important for growth and repair, brain and immune function, normal energy levels and transport of oxygen around the body. Women need 14.8mg and men 8.7mg a day. So which foods give us the most iron? Check out our 16 recommended iron-rich foods below.

Fresh vegetables

Find out the amount of iron you can get from just one 80g serving of fresh fruit and vegetables ( that’s one of your five-a-day).

freshvegb

1. Sprouts, boiled
0.4mg

2. Asparagus, boiled
0.5mg

3. Leeks, steamed
0.6mg

4. Beetroot, raw
0.8mg

Try 7 ways with brussels sprouts, 13 easy ways with asparagus, try this tasty quinoa with leek and squash dish or discover some of our best ever beetroot recipes.

fresh-veg2

5. Broccoli, boiled
0.8mg

6. Spinach, steamed
1.4mg

7. Curly kale, steamed
1.6mg

8. Spinach, raw
1.7mg

Discover 10 ways with kale, try this summery broccoli and feta spaghetti recipe, or discover how to add spinach to this veggie korma dish.

Canned veg, pulses and beans

Find out the amount of iron you can get from just one 200g serving of the following veg, pulses and beans (one of your five-a-day).

pulses

9. Sweetcorn
1mg

10. Peas
1.5mg

11. Baked beans
2.8mg

12. Chickpeas
3mg

Find our 10 ways you can use a tin of chickpeas, upgrade your brunch with our posh peas on toast recipe, give your baked beans an Indian twist or learn how to make our 4-ingredient sweetcorn fritters.

Dried fruits

Find the amount of iron you can get from just one 30g serving of the following dried fruits  (one of your five-a-day).

dried-fruit

13. Prunes
0.8mg

14. Raisins
1.1mg

15. Figs
1.3mg

16. Apricots
2.7mg

Sprinkle dried fruit on top of your breakfast cereals, make our fig and walnut balls for a pre-workout snack or satisfy your snack cravings with some fresh strawberries and apricot.

Dietitian Jennifer Low says:

The latest National Diet & Nutrition Survey, published in 2016, revealed that 48% of girls and 27% of women had low iron intakes (which is actually below the national dietary reference intake), putting them at risk of iron deficiency anaemia. You may be especially at risk of falling into these groups if you’re vegetarian or vegan, or have decided to cut back drastically on meat or fish.

Are non-meat sources just as good?
Iron comes in two forms, depending on its source:
* Haem iron is found in meat and is well absorbed by the body.
* Non-haem iron is found in plant foods, such as green leafy veg, pulses and dried fruits, and is not as well absorbed. This means you will need to aid the absorption of this vital mineral by taking the following steps:
– Eating foods with vitamin C alongside foods that contain iron, for example oranges, strawberries or raspberries with iron-fortified breakfast cereals.
– Avoiding drinking tea with iron-containing foods, as a cup of tea contains tannins (naturally occurring polyphenols that can inhibit the absorption of iron).

Tips on how to eat a more iron-rich diet:
* Snack on nuts: cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts and sesame seeds are more examples of great plant-based foods that provide iron.
* See your GP for a blood test if you feel uncharacteristically tired, short of breath, look pale or have heart palpitations. These can all be symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia.