Iron is an essential mineral that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body. The United States Recommended Dietary Allowance is 8 mg per day for men and postmenopausal women, 18 mg for premenopausal women and 10 mg for children up to 8 years. Heme iron are attached to proteins, making them more easily absorbed by the body. Nonheme iron comes from plant sources and is not attached to proteins, but some foods increase nonheme iron absorption.
About 40 percent of the iron in meat sources is heme iron, the other 60 percent is nonheme iron. Nonheme iron found in some parts of animal tissues, but is not as easily absorbed by the body. The best meat sources of iron are liver, seafood, fish, lean meats and poultry. If you want to increase your daily intake of iron, try foods like scallops, oysters, mussels, chicken liver, beef liver and pork liver. Other good meat includes various cuts of beef, turkey, chicken, sardines, tuna and shrimp. Although iron is an essential mineral needed for pregnancy, pregnant women should not eat liver because it is high in vitamin A, which can be harmful to developing countries babies.
Fruits and Beans
Nonheme iron found in plant sources such as vegetables and beans. Although it is not absorbed as effectively as heme iron, the absorption rate can be improved by eating plant sources along with a heme iron source, such as fish or scallops. Green vegetables contain large amounts of iron, so try vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli to increase the iron content in the diet. Sea vegetables, such as seaweed, containing the highest concentrations of iron or other vegetable. You can also try sweet potatoes, turnip greens, potatoes, peas, green beans and boiled bok choy. Beans are also a great source of iron. Chickpeas provides the most iron, followed by soybeans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, pinto beans and lima beans. You can also get iron from tofu, tempeh, soy milk and kidney beans.
Grains and nuts
Foods produced from grain products are a great source of nonheme iron, particularly if it is a whole grain foods. In many cases, foods that are made of whole grains be fortified with iron to replace the nutrients which have been stripped. Many nuts and seeds also provide your body with needed iron. The best sources of iron from breads and cereals come from bran, oats and semolina. Pasta, wheat germ and whole wheat bread also provide much-needed iron. Pumpkin seeds are high in iron, which makes dried figs, apricots, almonds and sunflower seeds. Cashew nuts provide iron in your diet, then sesame and sesame products such as tahini.
Iron absorption can be enhanced by accompanying nonheme iron sources with heme iron sources. You can also increase the rate of absorption by eating foods rich in vitamin C along with iron source. Orange juice, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries and grapefruit are good fruit sources of vitamin C. Vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, tomato juice, potatoes and peppers. You can also drink white wine to increase absorption. Iron absorption is inhibited by red wine, coffee and tea.