Iron Rich Foods
and Heme Iron

Iron rich foods can come from many food sources. 

However, heme iron can only come from animal muscle meats and from seafood like shellfish or from certain types of fish.

Consuming foods that contain heme iron is how you will get the most health benefits from iron.

Heme iron is much better absorbed than the type of iron which comes from plant foods. 

And iron rich foods that do not contain heme iron will need to be eaten in a certain way to get a sufficient amount of the health benefits of iron.

You should include a wide variety of iron rich foods in your diet every day to get the health benefits of iron - especially the foods that contain heme iron.

Health Benefits of Iron

  • Involved in Red Blood Cell Formation
  • Involved with Carrying Oxygen to Cells
  • Essential to Hemoglobin Formation
  • Involved with Energy Metabolism
  • Increases Work Capacity
  • Helps Build Resistance to Stress
  • Vital to Muscle Function 
  • Helps with Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Helps Regulate Body Temperature
  • Vital for Your Brain Development and for Your Concentration
  • Helps with Headaches and Dizziness
  • Involved with Neurotransmitter Synthesis
  • Helps to Increase a Restful Sleep
  • Helps with Fatigue and Your Mood
  • Helps with Brittle and Ridged Nails
  • Vital to Certain Enzyme Systems
  • Strengthens Immune System

What is Iron?

Iron is a vital mineral that your body needs because it is involved with the transportation of oxygen to your cells. 

Iron is a mineral that comes in two forms - heme iron or non-heme iron.  This mineral is needed for the formation of healthy red blood cells.

Iron is the central part of hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen to your cells.  And the adult human body contains somewhere in the range of 3 to 5 grams of iron.

Approximately 65% or more is circulating in your blood while most of the extra iron gets stored for future use.

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

Iron Deficiency Symptoms are some of the most common problems in the world.

Women and children seem to be the most susceptible to having this type of deficiency.

And if you don't have enough red blood cells to effectively transport oxygen throughout your body, you are said to have Anemia.

What is Heme and Non-Heme Iron?

Heme iron is readily available for absorption. 

Heme iron is found in food sources which include seafood, pork, beef, poultry, lamb, and organ meats. 

This type of iron makes up about 40% or more of the muscle tissue in these foods and the rest will be in the non-heme form.

Non-heme iron will be found in both animal and in plant foods which include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. 

BTW, eggs and dairy products will only contain non-heme iron.  And non-heme iron will make up all of the iron found in plant foods.

This type of iron is not as well absorbed by the human body.

Non-heme iron will be present as ferric iron and will have to be reduced to ferrous iron in order to be absorbed. 

However, heme iron will already be in the form of ferrous iron.

Supplemental Sources of Iron

Supplemental sources of iron can include taking iron supplements.

Or you can consume the foods known to boost iron quickly to help an iron deficiency.

One of the best supplemental sources of heme iron will be found in grass fed organ meats like liver, heart, and in kidneys. 

Iron Rich Foods

Wild Caught Seafood - Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Queen Crab, Shrimp, Black and Red Caviar

Wild Caught Fish - Anchovies, Tuna, Mackerel

Organic Chocolate - Fermented Chocolate Nibs, Fermented Dark Chocolate

Pastured Meats - Grass Fed Lamb, Grass Fed Beef, Grass Fed Buffalo, Dark Meat Poultry, Venison, Grass Fed Veal

Pastured Organ Meats - Grass Fed Liver, Pate, Grass Fed Heart, Grass Fed Kidney

Sprouted or Fermented Organic Grains - Spelt, Whole Wheat, Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, Kamut, Sorghum, Oats

Organic Nuts - Soaked Pistachio Nuts, Soaked or Sprouted Almonds, Soaked Pine Nuts, Coconut

Organic Fruits - Raisins, Dates, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Dried Apricots, Prunes, Dried Peaches, Dried Figs, Olives

Soaked Organic Seeds - Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Flaxseeds

Cooked Organic Vegetables - Jerusalem Artichokes, Mustard Greens, Endive, Dandelion Greens, Green Peas, Asparagus, Oyster Mushrooms

Herbs & Spices - Dried Thyme, Dried Parsley, Cumin Seed, Dried Marjoram

Properly Soaked or Fermented Organic Legumes - Soybeans, Cashews, Peanuts, Lentils, Mung Beans, White Beans, Kidney Beans, Chickpeas or Garbanzo

Misc. - Liquorice, Black Maca Root, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Blackstrap Molasses

These are the best heme iron and non-heme iron rich foods that you can easily include in your diet every day! 

BTW, iron rich foods like clams can give you up to 32 mg. of iron per 1 cup serving which exceeds the RDA for iron for adults by about 2 to 3 times.

Consume Vitamin C
to Absorb Non-Heme Iron

Iron rich foods (especially plant based) that contain non-heme iron will be more easily absorbed by your body under certain dietary conditions.

For example:  Consuming vitamin C along with your meals and some heme iron foods. 

Also, a variety of iron rich foods is probably the best way to ensure that you'll receive the most health benefits of iron.

Go to Iron Deficiency Symptoms

Return to Healthy Foods