Iron-rich foods: diet for pregnant women and for anemia

Iron is an essential mineral for our health, capable of preventing diseases and complications.

We can highlight that iron is important for preventing iron deficiency anemia , for healthy growth and for the development of a good learning capacity.

It also improves the immune system’s response to fighting infections and helps to reduce the risk of premature births or underweight babies.

Much of this mineral is produced in the body itself, due to the role played by red blood cells (red blood cells).

The rest is obtained through food, of animal origin (heme iron) or vegetable (non heme iron).

Read more: Why should we prefer a nutritious diet over supplements?

Below we highlight which foods are richer. Check out!

Which foods are rich in iron?

Iron-rich food options vary widely. There are many options between those of plant and animal origin. Check out the main ones:

Animal origin

The iron in these foods is better absorbed by the body. Good sources are:

  • Red meat, including the viscera (liver, kidney, heart);
  • Fish (tuna, sardines, etc.);
  • Seafood;
  • Poultry meat (chicken, turkey);
  • Chicken eggs.

Vegetable origin

Foods of plant origin rich in iron, despite not being used as well by the body, are indispensable for our health because they have many other essential nutrients.

When combined with foods rich in vitamin C, A, B12 and B9 they are better absorbed by the body and help prevent anemia and other diseases.

The main ones are dark green leafy grains and nuts, such as:

  • Cress;
  • Cabbage;
  • Lentil;
  • Chickpea;
  • Green smell;
  • Beans.

Besides them, sugar cane molasses and rapadura are also a source of the nutrient.

Read more: Exchanging animal proteins for vegetables reduces risk of disease

Which fruits contain the most iron?

The fruits that have the highest concentration of iron are avocado, dried apricot, coconut, raisin , pink grape, blackberry and strawberry. In many of them, we can still highlight the advantage of also being a source of vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron of plant origin. Therefore, they should be part of the diet to prevent diseases such as anemia.

Foods rich in iron, B12 and B9 (folic acid): benefits for pregnant women and babies

A diet low in iron and other vitamins such as B12, B9 and A are risk factors for the development of anemia during pregnancy, a period in which care with the diet needs to be redoubled.

The risks of this disease during pregnancy can affect not only the mother but also the fetus.

In pregnant women, the symptoms are shortness of breath, reduced appetite, fatigue and pallor. In the baby, the consequences can be neurological damage, premature birth and underweight.

For prevention, the mother should have a medical follow-up and invest in a balanced diet, with cereals, dark green vegetables, fruits rich in vitamin C, legumes and meats.

For babies who are still breastfeeding, all the iron they need is obtained from breast milk.

When they start consuming other foods, those rich in iron should be included in the diet, providing nutritional support for healthy growth and for preventing anemia.

What are the best foods with iron for anemia?

Iron is essential to prevent iron deficiency anemia, a disease caused by the mineral’s deficiency in the body.

It is indispensable because it is related to the production of red blood cells. This, consequently, interferes with the amount of hemoglobins in the blood (protein that needs iron to be formed and transport oxygen).

As a result of this deficiency, the person’s chances of having anemia are greater. Thus, complications and symptoms begin to appear, such as the presence of extreme tiredness , learning difficulties, pain, loss of concentration, pallor, etc.

In some cases, treatment requires supplementation and follow-up, but through food it is also possible to speed up treatment or prevent it.

For this, it is important to invest in foods rich in iron, such as:

  • Beet leaf;
  • Beetroot;
  • Nuts;
  • Pod;
  • Beans with rice;
  • Cabbage;
  • Broccoli;
  • Spinach;
  • Liver;
  • Rim;
  • Eggs;
  • Red meat;
  • Oysters;
  • Tuna fish.

How much iron is in the food?

Although the list of foods containing iron is extensive, the concentration of this mineral in each varies widely. Some have more iron.

Check the amount of iron in the richest foods in the nutrient, always considering 100g:

Animal origin

Among the foods of animal origin with the highest iron content are:

  • Cooked chicken liver: 8.5mg;
  • Grilled beef liver: 5.8mg;
  • Cooked turkey liver: 7.8mg;
  • Fresh tuna: 2.3mg;
  • Canned tuna: 1.3mg;
  • Chicken egg: 2.1mg;
  • Chicken egg yolk: 5.5mg;
  • Lamb: 1.8mg;
  • Sardines: 1.3mg;
  • Steamed seafood: 22mg;
  • Cooked oysters: 8mg.

Vegetable origin

Among plant foods with the highest iron content are:

  • Pumpkin seeds: 14.9mg;
  • Pistachio: 6.8 mg;
  • Cocoa powder: 5.8mg;
  • White beans: 2.5mg;
  • Spinach: 2.4mg;
  • Peanut: 2.2mg;
  • Chickpeas: 2.1mg;
  • Black beans: 1.5mg;
  • Lentils: 1.5mg;
  • Tofu: 5,4mg;
  • Sunflower seeds: 5.1mg;
  • Raisin: 4.8mg;
  • Walnut: 2.6mg;
  • Green beans: 1.4mg;
  • Pumpkin: 1.3mg;
  • Rolled oats: 1.3mg;
  • Pea: 1.1mg;
  • Raw beet: 0.8mg;
  • Broccoli: 0.5mg;
  • Soy beans: 5.1mg;
  • Molasses: 3.3mg;
  • Quinoa: 1,5mg;
  • Cabbage: 0.9mg.

Read more: Peanuts in pregnancy is bad or not?

What is the ideal level of iron in the blood?

The level of iron in the blood considered healthy is within a reference value of 11 ng / mL to 306 ng / mL in women and 23 ng / mL to 336 ng / mL in men. These values ​​may vary by laboratory, but in general, lower values ​​may indicate anemia or nutritional deficiency.

Usually, this test is requested when the person has symptoms of iron deficiency.

How to improve the absorption of iron in the body?

Depending on how food is consumed or from what source it is, iron absorption may change. For example, animal iron (heme iron) is better absorbed by the body than vegetable iron (non-heme iron).

Non-heme (vegetable) iron needs to be combined with an absorption facilitator.

One of the facilitators is vitamin C. Therefore, in addition to putting foods with iron on the plate, look for combinations with foods rich in this vitamin, with a salad or juice as an accompaniment to the main meal.

It is also necessary to avoid some combinations, such as mixing the sources of iron with those of calcium (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.). This is because the calcium in these foods can interfere (compete) in absorption.

Diets rich in fiber and the excessive consumption of some teas, coffees, sweets and red wine can also interfere with the absorption of iron by the body, due to the presence of substances that inhibit this absorption.

But, even with the tips, it is always important to follow up with a nutritionist and a doctor.


A balanced diet will certainly be able to offer sufficient amounts of iron for your body to stay healthy.

However, knowing which are the richest in this mineral is also important, especially in cases of patients with anemia or pregnant women.

To always know more about healthy eating and well-being , keep following the Healthy Minute.

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