Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron

Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen to all parts of our body. A slight deficiency of iron causes anemia (fatigue/weakness), and a chronic deficiency can lead to organ failure. Conversely, too much iron leads to the production of harmful free radicals and interferes with metabolism causing damage to organs like the heart and liver. Iron which comes from fruits and vegetables is well regulated by the body so overdose is rare and usually only occurs when people take supplements.

Contrary to popular belief, fruits and vegetables can be a good source of iron, in addition, vitamin C foods, which are mostly fruits and vegetables, help increase the absorption of iron into the body. Fruits and vegetables high in iron include dried fruits, dark leafy greens, podded peas, asparagus, button mushrooms, acorn squash, leeks, dried coconut, green beans, and raspberries. The current daily value (%DV) for iron is 18 milligrams (mg).

Below is a list of fruits and vegetables high in iron, for more, see the extended list of iron rich fruits and vegetables, and the top 10 vegetarian foods highest in iron.


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List of Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron

Dried Apricots 1. Dried Fruit (Apricots)
1 cup (119g) 200 calories (63g) 100g
42% DV (8mg) 22% DV (4mg) 35% DV (6mg)
Other fruit high in iron (%DV per cup): Peaches (36%), Prunes & Currants (26%), Raisins (24%), Pears (21%), Figs (17%), and Apples (7%). Note: Dried fruit is high in sugar and calories.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
A Bowl of Spinach Leaves 2. Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach)
1 cup (180g) 200 calories (870g) 100g
36% DV (6mg) 172% DV (31mg) 20% DV (4mg)
Other Greens High in Iron (%DV per cup): Cooked Swiss Chard (22%), Cooked Turnip Greens (16%), Raw Kale (6%), and Raw Beet Greens (5%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Green podded peas 3. Podded Peas
1 cup (160g) 200 calories (476g) 100g
18% DV (3mg) 52% DV (9mg) 11% DV (2mg)
Lima beans provide 23%DV of iron per cup.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Heads of asparagus 4. Asparagus
1 cup (134g) 200 calories (1000g) 100g
16% DV (3mg) 119% DV (21mg) 12% DV (2mg)
A cup of asparagus contains just 27 calories.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
White button mushrooms 5. White Button Mushrooms
1 cup (156g) 200 calories (714g) 100g
15% DV (3mg) 69% DV (12mg) 10% DV (2mg)
Other Mushrooms High in Iron (%DV per cup sliced): Morels (45% DV), Oyster (6% DV), Shiitake (3% DV).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
An acorn squash 6. Acorn Squash
1 cup (205g) 200 calories (357g) 100g
11% DV (2mg) 18% DV (3mg) 5% DV (1mg)
Pumpkin provides 7% DV per cup, most other winter squash provide 6% DV per cup.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Stalks of leeks 7. Leeks
1 stalk (89g) 200 calories (328g) 100g
10% DV (2mg) 38% DV (7mg) 12% DV (2mg)
Scallions (Spring Onions) are also high in Iron with (2% DV) per onion.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Half a coconut 8. Dried Coconut
1oz (28g) 200 calories (34g) 100g
5% DV (1mg) 6% DV (1mg) 19% DV (3mg)
Other Coconut Products High in Iron (%DV per ounce): Toasted Desiccated Coconut, Creamed Coconut, and Coconut Milk (5%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Green Beans 9. Green Beans
1 cup (135g) 200 calories (714g) 100g
5% DV (1mg) 26% DV (5mg) 4% DV (1mg)
A bunch of raspberries 10. Raspberries
1 cup (123g) 200 calories (385g) 100g
5% DV (1mg) 15% DV (3mg) 4% DV (1mg)
Other Berries High in Iron (%DV per cup): Mullberries (14%), Elderberries (13%), Raspberries (9%), Blackberries (7%), Strawberries (6%), Raspberries, Blackberries, Loganberries & Wild Blueberries (5%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
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Fruits and vegetables high in iron include dried fruits, dark leafy greens, podded peas, asparagus, button mushrooms, acorn squash, leeks, dried coconut, green beans, and raspberries.
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#1 Lemon Grass (Citronella) 30% DV (5mg) in 1 cup (67g) 92% DV (17mg) in 200 calories (202g)
#2 Palm Hearts 25% DV (5mg) in 1 cup (146g) 124% DV (22mg) in 200 calories (714g)
#3 Passion Fruit (Purple) 21% DV (4mg) in 1 cup (236g) 18% DV (3mg) in 200 calories (206g)
#4 Parsley 21% DV (4mg) in 1 cup (60g) 191% DV (34mg) in 200 calories (556g)
#5 Succotash 16% DV (3mg) in 1 cup (192g) 15% DV (3mg) in 200 calories (174g)
#6 Horned Melon (Kiwano) 15% DV (3mg) in 1 cup (233g) 29% DV (5mg) in 200 calories (455g)
#7 Lentil Sprouts 14% DV (2mg) in 1 cup (77g) 34% DV (6mg) in 200 calories (189g)
#8 Sauerkraut 12% DV (2mg) in 1 cup (142g) 86% DV (15mg) in 200 calories (1053g)
#9 Dandelion Greens 9% DV (2mg) in 1 cup (55g) 77% DV (14mg) in 200 calories (444g)
#10 Artichokes 9% DV (2mg) in 1 large (128g) 30% DV (5mg) in 200 calories (426g)
#11 Groundcherries 8% DV (1mg) in 1 cup (140g) 21% DV (4mg) in 200 calories (377g)
#12 Mamey Sapote 8% DV (1mg) in 1 cup (175g) 7% DV (1mg) in 200 calories (161g)
#13 Avocados 5% DV (1mg) in 1 cup (150g) 4% DV (1mg) in 200 calories (125g)
#14 Lettuce 4% DV (1mg) in 1 cup (55g) 106% DV (19mg) in 200 calories (1538g)
#15 Olives 3% DV (0mg) in 1 large (15g) 46% DV (8mg) in 200 calories (247g)

  • The most important factor is your existing iron level. A low iron level will increase absorption, while a high iron level will decrease absorption. In general, you absorb 10-15% of the iron from foods.2
  • Vitamin C will increase the absorption of nonheme iron by as much as 85%.2,3
  • Tannins, oxalates, polyphenols, and phytates found in tea and coffee can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron by up to 65%. Black tea reduces absorption more than green tea and coffee.2,3,4
  • The following teas and beverages also inhibit iron absorption: Peppermint tea, penny royal, cocoa, vervain, lime flower, chamomile, and most other herbal teas with polyphenols.4
  • Calcium, polyphenols, and phytates found in legumes, whole grains, and chocolate can reduce absorption of nonheme iron.
  • Some protein from soy products may inhibit nonheme iron absorption.2
  • Calcium, milk, and antacids can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.5
  • High fiber foods, such as whole grains, raw vegetables, and bran can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.5
  • Foods or drinks with caffeine can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.5

  • Menstruating Women - Due to blood loss during menstruation women of child bearing age are at risk of iron deficiency, the greater the blood loss the greater the risk.
  • Individuals with Kidney Failure - People with kidney failure, and especially those on dialysis, are at high risk of iron deficiency anemia. This is due to an inability of the kidney to create adequate amounts of the hormone erythropoietin which is necessary for red blood cell creation, and therefore, retaining iron.
  • Pregnant and lactating women - A developing fetus requires a high amount of iron, likewise, there is a high amount of iron lost through breast milk after birth.
  • Older infants and toddlers
  • People with low levels of Vitamin A - Vitamin A greatly helps move iron from storage in the body, without adequate amounts of vitamin A the body cannot regulate iron properly leading to an iron deficiency.
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders - Diarrhea, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal disorders and diseases can lead to an inadequate iron absorption.

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Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 8.
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet: Iron
  3. Hallberg L, Rossander L. Effect of different drinks on the absorption of non-heme iron from composite meals. Hum Nutr Appl Nutr. 1982 Apr;36(2):116-23.
  4. Richard F. Hurrell, Manju Reddy, and James D. Cook. Inhibition of non-haem iron absorption in man by polyphenolic-containing beverages. British Journal of Nutrition (1999), 81, 289-295
  5. National Library of Medicine Fact Sheet on Taking Iron Supplements.