Low in iron? Here’s 5 of the most underrated iron-rich foods! 12



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Low in iron?

You don’t need to turn into a beef and spinach eating machine to meet your iron requirements. Here are 5 iron rich foods that may surprise you.

1 in 5 Australian adults are low in iron. Iron is an important mineral responsible for making proteins that carry oxygen in the blood to give our bodies the energy needed to function. Low iron can result in anaemia which can leave you fatigued, pale, dizzy and out of breath.

When asked to increase your iron intake, your mind may think of a bloody red steak or even leap to the conclusion that you need iron supplements, but this is not always the case. There are plenty of iron rich foods that can be incorporated into your daily diet, so if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough iron continue reading to discover the 5 most under-rated iron-rich foods.

  1. Sesame seeds
    Nuts and seeds are a good source of healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals, but sesame seeds have the highest iron content of them all! 100g sesame seeds have approximately 14.5mg iron! Now remember to be reasonable as it’s not likely that you’re going to sit down to a 100g sesame seed serve, but sprinkling a little on top of an Asian stir-fry or adding them to a home made marinade can be a good idea to boost your iron intake.
  2. Oysters
    These little delicacies really pack a punch of nutrition. In addition to being a good source of protein, omega-3 and zinc, oysters are a fantastic source of iron. A 100g portion, which is equivalent to 6 medium oysters, will give you approximately 7mg iron. Just another reason to indulge in a few when you’re by the sea.
  3. Lentils
    Lentils are a type of pulse and come in different colour varieties but yellow, red, green and brown lentils are most common. 100g of lentils provides 3.5mg iron with virtually no fat and no cholesterol. They’re also a really good source of protein so don’t be scared to go vegetarian more often.
  4. Sourdough bread
    Bread has been a staple in Western diets for centuries and is a good source of B vitamins, dietary fibre and iron. To increase your iron intake, I’d recommend a high-fibre sourdough bread: 2 slices (approximately 100g) provides 3.5mg iron.
  5. Kale
    Kale is one of those new superfoods that we just can’t get enough of. Well, maybe that is because it is so good for you! Being a dark green leafy vegetable it is comparable with its cousin, Popeye’s iron-superfood, spinach. There is approximately 1.5mg iron in 100g of kale so continue adding it to your omelette, salads and green smoothies.

If you think you are at risk of being low in iron, or if it has been confirmed through a blood test, talk to your dietitian about adding more iron-rich foods in your diet. If you have iron deficiency anaemia, your dietitian can also recommend a suitable iron supplement for you to take to boost your levels and then monitor your iron intake to prevent further deficiencies.


Are you low in iron? What have you tried to get your iron levels up? What works for you? Tell us below.

Melanie McGrice

Melanie McGrice is one of Australia’s best known dietitians. She is a highly respected author and health presenter on nutrition and dietary issues - and a lover of great food! Join her free nutrition and wellbeing network at www.melaniemcgrice.com.au

  1. Usually if it’s good for iron it reacts with my warfarin. Difficult.

    4 REPLY
    • I have a genetic blood clotting gene mutation, plus a dodgy heart that isn’t too clever at pushing the blood through, coming off warfarin is not an option. Doctors are discussing whether I can be put on one of the new alternatives.

    • My, husband has been on warfarin for over 20 years after pneumonia caused a heart beat irregularity, it’s the reason he’s still here !

    • Thanks for saying that Robyn, it is scary being on it, but nobody is on it unless they actually need it. I try not to think of the dangers of it, I don’t really have an option, if my mum had discovered her gene mutation and gone on warfarin I wouldn’t have lost her 20 yrs ago.

  2. Grains have a blocking agent a against the absorption of iron, so I’m just wondering what’s special about the sourdough?

  3. Enjoy all except the shellfish, thanks Melanie. Prefer our Tas Atlantic salmon (although iron levels are not as high. Our climate and rich basalt soil are perfect for growing kale and silver beet and all the brassicas so we have no shortage of dark leafy greens. Easy to eat healthy! 🙂

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