Diet For Anemia: What To Eat When You Have Iron Deficiency Anemia

Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma
May 2023

2 min read
Diet For Anemia

Table of content

A diet for anemia needs to include both heme and non-heme iron-rich foods. These foods include meat, seafood, beans, poultry, and green leafy vegetables. Also, it includes foods that help the human body improve iron absorption and avoids those that may interfere with this process.

But what are heme and non-heme iron-rich foods?

In foods, there are two types of iron present. One is heme and the second is non-heme. 

Heme iron is present in fish, meat, and poultry. So, this type of iron is most readily absorbed by your body. Our body absorbs up to 30–40% of the heme iron. Did you know consuming meat generally boosts your iron levels far more than non-heme iron?

On the other hand, non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods, for example, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Foods available with non-heme iron are still an essential part of a nutritious and well-balanced diet. But the iron contained in these foods won’t be absorbed as completely. So, our bodies only consume 2-10% of non-heme iron.

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What Causes Anemia?

Firstly, anemia may result from many factors, including a lack of iron in the diet and heavy menstruation in women.

Also, bleeding in the stomach and intestines can also be the cause of iron deficiency, which is also called anemia. Thus, this kind of internal bleeding is sometimes a side effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, this may result from:

  • Piles 
  • Ulcers
  • Swelling in the esophagus or in the large intestine.
  • Certain cancers.

Secondly, many people are at great risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. Such as pregnant people, people with medical issues, for example, Crohn’s disease, people who have gone through bariatric surgery, ladies with heavy or irregular periods, and also those who follow a vegan diet.

In such cases, doctors usually advise people to take iron supplements.

Did you know the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron depends on a person’s age and sex?

A baby who is younger than 6 months requires 0.27 milligrams of iron a day. While a male aged 19–50 years requires 8 mg of iron a day, and a female in the same age range needs 18mg of iron a day.

Moreover, during pregnancy, a woman should increase her daily iron intake to 27 mg a day.

In addition to this, people with iron deficiency need a significant boost and require 150-200 mg of iron a day.

Please Note: You should consult with your doctor to decide on a suitable dose of extra iron.

Foods To Include In Diet For Anaemia

There are different dosages decided by people depending on their gender, sex, and age. But make sure to include the listed foods in your diet to fight anemia.

1. Fruits And Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources to complete the recommended need for iron. So, here is the list:

  • Curly kale and other varieties
  • Pomegranates
  • Red and yellow peppers
  • Watercress
  • Spinach
  • Green Leafy
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Lemon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beet greens

Dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach are the best source of non-heme iron. Also, vitamin C from citrus fruits helps the stomach absorb iron.

2. Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a few of the most nutrient-dense foods to include in your diet. Did you know one ounce of pistachios can provide 6.1% of the required daily value of iron for an individual?

  • Cashews
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnut

3. Meat And Fish

In meat and fish, you will find heme iron. Also, lean-cut white meat like chicken is a good source of heme protein.

Did you know 3 ounces of grilled chicken with sides of broccoli, sauteed spinach, and tomatoes can make for an iron-rich meal for individuals suffering from anemia?

  • Lamb
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Shellfish
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Chicken

4. Eggs

Eggs are well known for their high protein enrichment. But did you know they also pack a high level of iron? Yes, they are rich in iron and can be paired with whole-grain toast, lightly roasted tomatoes, and quinoa for breakfast. Thus, this breakfast will provide a great start to the day.

5. Beans And Pulses

Lentils are a superfood for anemic patients. So, in a half cup of lentils, you will get about 3.3 mg of iron, which is around 20% of what our body needs throughout the day. Pulses and beans work for both vegetarians and nonvegetarians and provide good iron content.

6. Grains

Iron-fortified cereals and grains are great options for getting much-needed iron. However, you can also opt for natural options as well. Natural options are also rich in iron and can help boost the hemoglobin level in the blood.

  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Oats
  • Whole wheat
  • Kamut

Foods To Avoid In Diet For Anemia

Here we are sharing a list of foods that you should avoid if you are anemic. So, here is the list:

  • Yogurt
  • Tea and coffee
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Raw Milk
  • Foods containing tannins like corn, grapes, etc.

A Sample Meal Plan of Diet For Anemia

So, here we are sharing a sample diet for anemia. If you want to get the whole customized diet plan for anemia, then you can schedule a call with our dietitians. Thus, they will provide proper guidance and consultation regarding your issues.  

Breakfast (8:00-8:30AM)Brown bread (3 slices) + Milk and Banana shake (1 cup) + 4 Almonds + 3 Cashew nuts
Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM)1 Orange + Grapes (1 cup)
Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM)Boiled Rice (1 cup) + Masoor Daal (1/2 cup) + 1/4th fresh lime + Fish/ Egg/ Veg. Curry (1/2 cup)
Evening (4:00-4:30 PM)1 cup green tea + Roasted Rice flakes and grated coconut (1/3 cup)
Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM)2-3 Chapati + Veg./ Fish Curry (1/2 cup) + Fried Beetroot (1/3 cup)

How To Increase Iron Absorption From Plant Foods In Your Diet For Anemia

As discussed above, the heme iron found in meat and animal products is easily absorbed by the human body as compared to the non-heme iron found in plants.

The RDA for iron is 1.8 times higher for vegetarians and vegans as compared to those who consume meat.

Whereas, 14 mg per day for men and post-menopausal women and 32 mg per day for menstruating women. Also, for pregnant women, it is recommended to take approximately 49 mg per day.

However, there are a few strategies that can be taken care of to increase the human body’s ability to absorb non-heme iron. So, here are the best-researched methods:

  • Consume Vitamin C-Rich Foods: Including vitamin C-rich foods in a diet plan together with foods rich in non-heme irons increases the absorption of iron by up to 300%.
  • Avoid Coffee And Tea With Meals: Always try to exclude tea and coffee from your meal. Also, consuming coffee and tea with meals can reduce iron absorption.
  • Soak, Sprout, And Ferment: Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting grains and legumes improves iron absorption. So, this lower the number of phytates naturally present in these foods.
  • Use A Cast Iron Pan: Preparing food in a cast iron pan provides more iron compared to those prepared in non-iron cookware.
  • Consume Lysine-Rich Foods: Having plant foods like legumes and quinoa, which are all rich in the amino acid lysine, together with iron-rich meals increases iron absorption.

Summary Of “Diet For Anemia.”

Individuals who are suffering from iron deficiency anemia can benefit from adding iron to their regular diet. So, the foods and strategies mentioned in this informative blog can help you manage your medical condition.

Thus, consuming certain dark, green leafy vegetables, meat, seafood, beans, nuts, and seeds can help you boost your iron intake. Also, you can use cast iron utensils and prepare your meals for shorter periods whenever it is possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Beetroot High In Iron?

Beetroots benefit a lot. Also, it is rich in iron, an essential component of red blood cells. Additionally, without iron, red blood cells cannot transport oxygen around the body. Thus, people who have low iron levels can sometimes develop a condition called iron deficiency anemia. So, adding sources of iron to the diet can reduce the risk of this condition

Which Fruit Has Most Iron?

Prune juice, olives, and mulberries are the three types of fruit with the highest iron concentration per portion. These fruits also contain antioxidants and a variety of other nutrients beneficial to health

Which Fruit Is Best To Include In Diet For Anemia?

Fruits high in iron are listed below:

  • Avocado.
  • Strawberries.
  • Watermelon.
  • Raisins.
  • Dates.
  • Figs.
  • Prunes.
  • Dried apricots.

What Are The Best Foods to Include In Diet For Anemia?

  • Red meat, pork, and poultry.
  • Seafood.
  • Beans.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach.
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots.
  • Iron-fortified cereals and bread
  • Peas

Which Food For Iron Deficiency Is Suitable?

  • Spinach.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Peas.
  • Broccoli.
  • String beans.
  • Beet greens.
  • Collards.
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Contact Us Today

We understand it is a bit tricky which diet plan will work for you and which will not, it can be complicated and confusing, hence you need to consult a professional. So, contact us today if you are looking for a customized diet plan or any diet plans, and we will help you fulfill your new year’s resolution.


This blog post was written to help you to make healthy and better food choices altogether. So, be aware and take care. The important thing to consider is your own health before starting a diet that is restrictive. Always seek advice from a doctor/dietitian before starting if you have any concerns.

Eat Healthy, Live Healthy. Enjoy a long happy life.

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