General Information


What is it?

  • An iron-rich diet means eating foods that have a lot of iron. Iron is a mineral the body needs to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a part of the red blood cells in your blood. The hemoglobin helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of the body.
  • You may need this diet if you do not have enough iron in your blood which is called anemia since this can make you feel very tired and weak. Anemia can keep your body from getting the oxygen it needs to live. An iron-rich diet may be needed if you have had surgery and lost blood during the procedure. Other health problems may also cause you to need to eat an iron-rich diet.


  • Iron-rich foods are listed below. Eating these foods everyday will help to increase the amount of iron in your body. Women usually need 14mg to 18mg of iron a day.
  • Talk to your caregiver before taking iron pills or vitamins with iron. Taking too much iron can be harmful to your body.
  • Cook with cast iron pots and pans. Some of the iron in the pot or pan goes into your food as you cook.
  • Eating high-vitamin C foods when eating iron-rich foods helps to absorb the iron in your body. Foods and liquids high in vitamin C are also listed below.

Foods with a high amount of Iron: 5mg to 10mg iron for each serving

- 3 ½ ounces beef or chicken liver

- ½ cup to ¾ cup breakfast cereal with iron

- 3 ½ ounces liverwurst

- ¾ cup oysters


Foods with a medium-high amount of iron: 3mg to 5mg iron for each serving

- ½ cup cooked dried beans, (i.e. pinto, kidney, navy, or northern)

- 3 ½ ounces lean beef or pork

- ¼ cup prune juice

- 8 large prunes

- 3 ounces sardines

- 1 ½ cup cubed watermelon

- 1 slice whole grain bread, like whole wheat


Foods with a medium amount of iron: 1mg to 2mg iron for each serving

- 1 cup raw cauliflower

- 3 ½ ounces chicken or turkey

- ½ cup cooked lima beans

- ½ cup cooked spinach or mustard greens

- 1 Tbsp dark molasses

- ¼ cup to 1/3 cup dries fruits

- 1 egg

- 3 ½ ounces fish

- ½ cup green peas

- ¼ cup peanuts

- ¼ cup raisins

- 3 ounces tuna


Foods and Liquids with a high amount of vitamin C

- Broccoli

- Cabbage

- Cantaloupe

- Grapefruits and grapefruit juice

- Green peppers and chili peppers

- Oranges and orange juice

- Strawberries

- Tomatoes and tomatoes juice


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