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A Great Shopping List for Dietary Iron

Content by: Erin Nugent, RD

Dietary iron sources are readily available and easy to prepare. Read about foods that are naturally rich in iron...

A Great Shopping List for Dietary Iron


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Iron supplements may not be necessary when individuals are able to identify iron rich foods and how the body absorbs iron.

- Heme iron is more readily absorbed in the body than non heme iron.

- Heme iron sources include most meat items: read meat, pork and poultry.

- Non-heme iron sources include green leafy vegetables, beans, eggs, peas, fortified cereals, breads and pastas.

- Vitamin C enhances the body's ability to absorb iron. Consuming a source of vitamin C at the same time as an iron source can help the body to more efficiently absorb and utilize dietary iron. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, kiwi, melons, strawberries and tomatoes.

- Calcium and iron often compete for absorption in the body. It is recommended to consume iron rich foods separate from high calcium foods (most commonly dairy products) for optimal absorption.

- Caffeine has also been found to inhibit iron absorption.

When focusing on maximizing the amount of iron consumed and absorbed in one's diet: individuals should consume iron rich foods with a source of vitamin C and avoid caffeine or dairy at the same meal or snack.

Great Tip!
Take iron with one of these foods:
✅ strawberries
✅ tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
✅ bell peppers
✅ oranges
✅ lemons
✅ melon (cantaloupe or honey dew)
✅ broccoli

Next Steps!

Use this great, iron-rich grocery list:
✅ fortified oatmeal
✅ eggs
✅ garbanzo beans
✅ black beans
✅ kidney beans
✅ fortified pasta (or legume based pasta)
✅ chicken breast
✅ ground beef
✅ deli turkey
✅ fortified whole wheat bread

Fun Pairings for lunch or snacks:
☯️ oatmeal with strawberry slices
☯️ scrambled eggs topped with diced tomatoes and bell peppers
☯️ roasted garbanzo beans with lemon juice
☯️ fortified pasta + tomato sauce
☯️ chili made with beans and ground beef
☯️ deli turkey sandwich + orange slices
☯️ toast spread with peanut butter + diced cantaloupe
☯️ baked chicken breast + roasted broccoli

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