Iron is a mineral that serves several important functions, its main one being to carry oxygen throughout your body as a part of red blood cells (1Trusted Source).
It is an essential nutrient and must be consumed from food. 18 mg is the Daily Value (DV).
It is interesting to note that the amount of iron that your body absorbs depends partly on how much iron you have stored.
A deficiency can occur if your intake is too low to replace the amount you lose every day (2Trusted Source).
Anemia, which can lead to fatigue, can be caused by iron deficiency. Iron-rich foods that are not consumed by menstruating women are at high risk for deficiency.
You have plenty of options to satisfy your daily iron requirements.
Spinach provides many health benefits but very few calories.
About 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw spinach contain 2.7 mg of iron or 15% of the DV (7Trusted Source).
Even though this non-heme Iron isn’t very well absorbed by the body, spinach is high in vitamin A (8Trusted source).
Spinach is rich in antioxidants called Carotenoids. This may lower your risk of getting cancer, reduce inflammation, and protect your eyesight from disease (Trusted source, 10Trusted source, 11Trusted source, 12Trusted source).
Your body will absorb the carotenoids if you eat spinach or other leafy greens with fat.
2. Liver and other organ meats
Organ meats are extremely nutritious. There are many types of iron-rich meats such as liver, kidneys, or brain.
For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of beef liver contains 6.5 mg of iron or 36% of the DV (14Trusted Source).
Organ meats are also high in protein and rich in B vitamins, copper, and selenium.
Vitamin A is very high in the liver, accounting for 1,049% of the daily value per 3.5-ounce portion.
Furthermore, organ meats are one of the best sources of choline. This is an important nutrient to brain and liver health, which many people don’t get enough of (15Trusted Source).
3. Red meat
Red meat is satisfying and nutritious.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of ground beef contains 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the DV (23Trusted Source).
You can also find protein, zinc, and selenium in meat (24Trusted source).
Researchers have suggested that iron deficiency may be less likely in people who eat meat, poultry, and fish on a regular basis (25Trusted Source).
Red meat is actually the best source of heme iron, making it an important food option for anemia patients.
Quinoa is a popular grain known as a pseudocereal. One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa provides 2.8 mg of iron, which is 16% of the DV (32Trusted Source).
Quinoa also contains no gluten, so it is a great choice for those who have celiac or other forms of gluten intolerance.
Quinoa is also richer in protein than most other grains. It’s also rich in folate and magnesium as well as copper, manganese, copper, and other nutrients.
Quinoa also has more antioxidant activity than many grains. Antioxidants protect your cells against damage from free radicals (33Trusted source, 34Trusted source).
Broccoli has a lot of nutrients. A 1-cup (156-gram) serving of cooked broccoli contains 1 mg of iron, which is 6% of the DV (42Trusted Source).
Furthermore, a portion of broccoli provides 112% of DV for vitamin A, which aids your body to absorb iron better (8TrustedSource, 43TrustedSource).
The same portion is high in folate, provides 5g of fiber, and some vitamin K.
Cruciferous vegetables include indole, succinophane, and glucose, which are compounds found in plants that may protect against cancer (44TrustedSource, 45TrustedSource, 46, 47TrustedSource).
Tofu is a soy-based food that’s popular among vegetarians and in some Asian countries.
A half-cup (126-gram) serving provides 3.4 mg of iron, which is 19% of the DV (48Trusted Source).
Tofu is also high in thiamine and other minerals like calcium, magnesium, and even selenium. You also get 22 grams of protein per serving.
The unique compound isoflavones found in tofu have been linked with improved insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of developing heart disease. They also provide relief from menopausal symptoms (49Trusted source, 50Trusted source).
7. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is incredibly delicious and nutritious.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 3.4 mg of iron, which is 19% of the DV (51Trusted Source).
This small amount also contains 56%, 15%, and 56% of the Daily Values (DVs) for copper and magnesium.
Prebiotic fiber is also present, which helps to nourish your friendly bacteria (52Trusted Source).
The study by 53Trusted Source found that cocoa and dark chocolate were more antioxidant-active than blueberries and acai juices (53TrustedSource).
Also, studies have shown that chocolate can lower your chances of having heart attacks or strokes.
Not all chocolate is created equally. It’s believed that compounds called flavanols are responsible for chocolate’s benefits, and the flavanol content of dark chocolate is much higher than that of milk chocolate (57Trusted Source).
For maximum health benefits, chocolate should contain at least 70% cocoa.