A 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...
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.
Take iron with one of these foods:
✅ tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
✅ bell peppers
✅ melon (cantaloupe or honey dew)
Use this great, iron-rich grocery list:
✅ fortified oatmeal
✅ 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