List of Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron

Annette McDermott
Contributor: Elise Deming, RDN
Bowl of fresh spinach leaves

Iron plays a crucial role in delivering oxygen throughout the body. If you don't get enough, you may develop iron deficiency. Meat is a good source of iron, but fruits and vegetables are another option for vegetarians or anyone who avoids meat.

Iron-Rich Fruits and Vegetables

The National Institutes of Health indicates foods which provide 20 percent or greater of a nutrient's Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) are a high source of that nutrient. Although healthy, most fruits, vegetables, and meats are not considered high in iron and fall short of this equation.

Some fruits and vegetables contain more iron than others. The following chart lists those that have the highest iron content. Many green vegetables have a higher iron content when cooked than raw. The nutritional values below come from Self Nutrition Data.

High-Iron Fruits and Vegetables

Food Item Iron Content Ways to Use
Spinach, boiled (1 cup) 6.4mg Mix with other leafy greens and drizzle with olive oil and seasoning
Lima beans, boiled (1/2 cup) 4.5mg Boil and add fresh herbs, bake in casseroles or add to green salads
Swiss chard, boiled (1 cup) 4.0mg Use in soups, stews
Potato, baked (1 large, baked with skin) 3.2mg Mash or, eat whole topped with fresh, chopped herbs and/or vegetables
Prune juice (1 cup) 3.0mg Drink alone or add to smoothies
Beet greens, boiled (1 cup) 2.7mg Add to salads or eat with other leafy greens
Green peas, boiled (1/2 cup) 2.5mg Boil and top with fresh herbs or add to pasta or green salads
Sweet potato, boiled and mashed (1 cup) 2.4mg Top with brown sugar and cinnamon or bake in a casserole
Tomatoes, canned and stewed (1/2 cup) 2.0mg Add to sauces, stews or vegetarian chili
Tomato paste (1/4 cup) 1.9mg Stir into sauces and casseroles
Dandelion greens, boiled (1 cup) 1.9mg Boil alone or with other leafy greens; add to salads
Parsley, raw (1/2 cup) 1.8mg Use as edible garnish or chop and add to fruit or vegetable salads
Pumpkin, canned (1/2 cup) 1.7mg Add to smoothies or yogurt or top with honey and granola; use in baked goods
Figs, dried (1/2 cup dried) 1.5mg Chop and sprinkle on salads, yogurt or hot cereal
Raisins (1/2 cup) 1.5mg Add to hot or cold cereal, yogurt or smoothies
Kale, cooked (1 cup) 1.2mg Saute or boil and eat alone or with other greens

According to an article by Amanda Rose, PhD, it's also more challenging to meet the iron RDA if you eat vegetables with "iron inhibitors," which are foods or beverages that prevent the absorption of iron. On the other hand, eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons, or grapefruit, helps your body absorb iron.

Take a Balanced Approach

It may be challenging to get your iron RDA by eating fruits and vegetables alone. However, if you eat them as part of a balanced diet that includes lean meats, legumes, grains, and seeds, you'll likely meet your iron goal. In addition, consider boiling or sauteing fruits and vegetables in a cast iron skillet. According to the Journal of Food Science, that will increase a food's iron content.

List of Fruits and Vegetables High in Iron