5 Foods High in Iron: A Comprehensive Guide

Iron is an essential mineral for the human body, and its recommended daily intake varies depending on age and gender. Men need 8 mg of iron per day, while women need 18 mg until the age of 51, when the recommended intake is reduced to 8 mg. Pregnant women need 27 mg of iron per day. To ensure you get enough iron, it's important to know which foods are high in this mineral.

Here are five examples of foods that are rich in iron.

Red Meat

Red meat is a great source of heme iron, as well as protein, selenium and zinc. The amount of iron in red meat depends on the type: beef contains 2.47 mg of iron per 100 grams, lamb has 1.78 mg and venison has 4.98 mg.


Shellfish is another excellent source of iron, with different species containing varying amounts. Clams have 2.91 mg of iron per 100 grams, mussels have 7.08 mg and oysters have 8.26 mg.


Spinach is a great source of non-heme iron, containing 2.71 mg per 100 grams of green leafy vegetables. It's also packed with other nutrients such as 28.1 mg of vitamin C and 558 mg of potassium, which further contribute to health and improve iron absorption.

Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are a great alternative to fresh fruit when it comes to getting your daily dose of iron: they contain 2.66 mg per 100 grams, but they're also a good source of fiber, potassium and beta-carotene.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of iron, with 8.52 mg per 100 grams of dry seed.

Eating pumpkin seeds also provides you with lots of copper, manganese and zinc. It's important to note that foods contain two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry and is the most easily absorbed form by the body; you can absorb up to 30 percent of the heme iron you consume. Eating meat generally increases iron levels much more than eating non-heme iron.

Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods such as spinach or dried apricots, but it's not as easily absorbed by the body as heme iron. However, these foods are still an important part of a nutritious diet and should not be avoided altogether. If your doctor says you have a very low iron level, avoid foods that combine iron-rich foods with calcium or foods that contain phytate, such as beans and legumes. MyFoodData provides free nutrition information tools and articles to help you organize and understand the food you eat.