low-iron foods

Some fruits are rich in iron, an essential nutrient for the body, which participates in the transport of oxygen, the proper development and functioning of cells and the production of some hormones. Iron can be obtained by eating some fruits, such as dehydrated coconut, papaya or mango, and nuts, such as peanuts or walnuts.

Fruits are excellent sources of iron in the diet of vegetarians since they do not consume meat, which is an excellent source of iron, helping to avoid diseases caused by the deficiency of this mineral, such as anaemia. 

However, these fruits contain non-heme iron, a type of iron that needs to be consumed along with other foods, such as proteins (meat, fish and chicken), or foods rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes and broccoli, which will facilitate the absorption of the mineral by the body.

What is iron for

Iron is a mineral that helps to produce red blood cells and promotes oxygen transport from the lungs to other body parts. In addition, iron also facilitates the absorption of food by the body, increasing energy, concentration and physical and mental disposition.

The intake of foods rich in iron also helps to prevent premature ageing, as the mineral participates in the formation of collagen, a fundamental nutrient to keep the skin hydrated and firm and prevent wrinkles.

It is important to remember that iron intake is also essential to strengthen immunity, protecting the body against various types of diseases, such as flu, anaemia or cardiovascular diseases. Know the adequate iron intake for each person.

Iron-rich fruit table

The following table indicates the amount of iron for each 100 g of food:

Iron-rich fruits

Amount of iron per 100 g

Pistachio 7 mg

dried apricots 5.8 mg

Pass grape 2.4 mg

Dried coconut 3.6 mg

Nut 2 mg

Peanut 2.1 mg

Almonds 4.1 mg

Brazil nut 2.5 mg

dehydrated papaya 3.2 mg

dried mango 1.2 mg

dehydrated banana 1.15 mg

dried apple 1.1 mg

dehydrated pineapple 2.3 mg

dehydrated pear 1.9 mg

dried fig 2.6 mg

dried date 1.3 mg

Prune 3 mg

The fruits in the table are dehydrated and dried, as these versions have more iron. However, these fruits also have a higher carbohydrate content, so it is essential to eat them in moderation, as excess can increase blood sugar levels, contributing to diabetes. In addition, excessive consumption of carbohydrates can also promote weight gain.

How to increase iron absorption

To maximise the absorption of iron from fruits, it is important to prioritise a varied diet rich in vitamin C, which is present in tomatoes, broccoli, red cabbage or fresh oranges, as this nutrient facilitates iron absorption. Know other food sources of vitamin C.

Another way to increase the absorption of iron from fruits is to eat foods rich in vitamin A, such as carrots, tomatoes and spinach, as this vitamin also promotes the absorption of iron by the body. See other vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables.

For non-vegetarians, you can eat an animal protein source such as eggs, meat, chicken or fish, as animal protein also increases iron absorption.

In addition, it is essential to avoid consuming calcium-rich foods such as milk and dairy products at the same meal, with tannins, such as cocoa and quinoa, and fibre-rich foods such as brown rice, soy, and oat flakes. These foods can interfere with iron absorption from fruits and, therefore, should be consumed separately.

Three tricks to enrich the food with iron

Three great tricks to enrich foods with iron to help treat anaemia are:

  • Cooking food in an iron pot;
  • Drink a glass of orange or lemon juice whenever you consume foods rich in iron from plant sources; 
  • Make fruit juices with vegetables, such as pineapple juice with parsley.

These measures are simple and can help cure iron deficiency anaemia more easily.

How to improve iron absorption

A valuable tip to improve iron absorption is never to mix milk or dairy products with foods rich in iron because the calcium in these foods reduces iron absorption.

Adopting an iron-rich diet should be followed for at least three months to see signs of recovery. At the end of this period, the blood test must be repeated.

Iron-rich foods

Iron-rich foods can be of animal or plant origin, but they have a variable amount of iron, and the body absorbs only a tiny percentage. Therefore, it is essential to know how to increase absorption.

The most iron-rich plant foods, such as beets, spinach, or watercress, tend to be the darkest. But their iron is only absorbed by the body in the presence of Vitamin C. Therefore, the trick to enrich food in iron is to add fresh fruit to the salad, such as pineapple, for example, or accompany a salad or a soup of vegetables with a glass of orange juice.

The iron in meat is naturally absorbed, without the need for vitamin C or other food, and is more concentrated in the refuse, such as the liver. However, significantly increasing the amount of meat in your diet can also raise cholesterol levels. The trick is to use an iron pot for cooking, especially some low-iron foods like rice or pasta.