Iron-Rich Diet for Anemia Patients

Iron-Rich Diet for Anemia Patients

Anemia is a condition, in which blood lacks hemoglobin or red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the main constituent of red blood cells. It binds to oxygen and supplies it throughout the body. During anemia, too few numbers of healthy red blood cells are present in the body, therefore, the cells of the body are unable to get the required oxygen. It can occur because of blood loss, the destruction of red blood cells or the body’s inability to produce enough red blood cells.

There are many types of anemia and one of its most common types is iron deficiency anemia. It is a common type of anemia during which blood lacks required healthy red blood cells. This type of anemia is caused by the insufficiency of iron in the body.

A lack of vitamin B-12 and folate can also affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells. The deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to pernicious anemia. A diet rich in B vitamins and iron can help to improve the condition of anemia. Supplements can also be used after the recommendation of the doctor.

Iron Rich Diet for Anemia Patients 

Some of the following diets can help in improving the condition of anemia:

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark green leafy vegetables contain a high amount of fiber, folate, carotenoids calcium and iron. It also contains a high number of antioxidants.

Studies suggest that there are two types of iron that can be present in food which is heme and non-heme. Heme is beneficial for anemia patients. Only 30% of non-heme iron can be absorbed by the body while 70% of heme iron can be absorbed by the body. The non-heme iron is found in plant sources while the heme iron is found in animal sources.

Therefore, if someone wants to rely on non-heme sources, then, she/he should have the appropriate serving of dark leafy greens. The dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach is a great source of non-heme iron.

Seeds and Nuts

Seed and nuts are high sources of healthy fats, proteins, and iron. Nuts and seeds can be sprinkled on salads or can be used with yogurt. The raw varieties of nuts and seeds are more beneficial. The nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts pistachios, and cashews are rich sources of iron. Just one ounce of pistachios can fulfill 6.1% of the daily iron value.

Lean Red Meats

Lean Red Meats is a rich source of heme iron. 70% of the heme iron can be absorbed by the body. The use of lean red meat can fulfill 22% of your recommended daily iron intake. The absorption of iron can be maximized by pairing it with vitamin C rich foods such as tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, red peppers, oranges, and strawberries.

Chicken Breast

The chicken is also a rich source of protein and iron. It is also a good source of heme iron and is beneficial for anemic patients. A plate of three ounces of chicken, sautéed spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli is a good option for lunch of an anemic patient.


Some of the seafood also provides a high amount of heme iron. The seafood especially the shellfish variety such as shrimp, oysters, and clams are a good source of heme iron. The use of shellfish is beneficial for anemic patients. Other fishes high in iron are sardines, canned or fresh tuna, halibut, perch, haddock, and salmon.

Both the canned and fresh salmon are a huge source of iron. However, canned salmon is high in calcium. The calcium binds with iron and reduces the absorption of iron. The foods high in calcium shouldn’t be taken with an iron-rich diet. Some of the foods containing a high amount of calcium are yogurt, raw milk, cheese, kefir, tofu, sardines, and broccoli.

Organic Soy Beans

The organic soybeans are a great source of non-heme iron and protein. Vegetarian or vegan people can fulfill their iron demand by taking this source of iron.

Fortified Foods

Many fortified foods contain a high amount of iron. Some of such foods are fortified ready-to-eat cereals, fortified orange juice, fortified refined flour (bread made of fortified flour), fortified cornmeal, fortified white rice, and fortified pasta.

Legumes and Beans

The beans such as kidney beans, black-eyed peas, soybeans, pinto beans, peas, chickpeas, black beans, and lima beans are a huge source of iron. One of the qualities of beans is that these are versatile and inexpensive. The legumes such as lentils contain iron and fiber. These are effective for anemic patients.  Legumes of 3.3 milligrams can fulfill the 20% demand of the body. Some foods such as coffee and tea can interfere with the absorption of iron. The anemic patients should not use liquefied caffeine more than one or two cups per day.


The iron-fortified cereals, pasta, and grains are indeed a high source of iron. However, the use of quinoa is one of the best options for anemic patients. Quinoa is fully loaded with fortifying iron.

Other grains such as sorghum, oats, amaranth, whole wheat, Kamut, and teff are an excellent source of iron.

Organic Eggs

Eggs are one of the best foods for anemia. It contains a high amount of iron. The sautéed spinach and quinoa are best for a light lunch. The Breakfasts having eggs, whole-grain toast (ghee or butter applied on toast) and lightly roasted tomatoes are rich sources of iron. These lunch and breakfast routines are best for anemic patients.

Foods to be avoided

Many food products such as dairy products can interfere with the body’s iron absorption. Some of the foods which can interfere with iron absorption are the following.

  • Milk and other dairy products
  • whole-grain cereals
  • Coffee and tea
  • Foods containing a high amount of tannins, such as grapes and corn
  • The diet having a rich amount of phytic acid or phytates, such as whole-grain wheat products and brown rice
  • Foods containing a high amount of gluten. The products made from wheat such as rye, barley, oats, and pasta
  • The Foods that contain oxalic acid should also be avoided. Such as chocolate, peanuts, and parsley.

Final Thought

Iron is an important constituent of red blood cells. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body. The deficiency of iron can lead to cell damage and several other complications. Iron deficiency can be corrected with the use of the right diet and supplement. The supplements must be used after the recommendation from the doctor.


Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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