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There are 2 types of iron found in foods:
Your body absorbs heme iron more easily than non-heme iron. However, foods containing non-heme iron are also very important sources of iron in your diet.
See HealthLinkBC File #68c Iron and Your Health for more information on how much iron you need and how to get the most iron from foods.
What foods have heme iron?
|Food||Iron (mg) per 75g (2 ½ oz serving)|
|Liver pate, canned*||4.1|
g = gram, mg = milligram, oz = ounce
*Liver and liver products (e.g. liverwurst spread and liver sausages) are high in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A may cause birth defects, especially during the first trimester. The safest choice is to limit these foods during pregnancy. If you choose to eat liver or liver products, have no more than 75g (2 ½ ounces) per week.
**Pacific oysters tend to be higher in cadmium. Health Canada recommends that adults eat no more than 12 B.C. oysters per month and that children eat no more than 1.5 B.C. oysters per month.
What foods have non-heme iron?
|Infant cereal, dry***||28 g (5 tbsp)||7.0|
|Dried soybeans, boiled||175 mL (3/4 cup)||6.5|
|Lentils, cooked||175 mL (3/4 cup)||4.9|
|Pumpkin seeds/kernels, roasted||60 mL (1/4 cup)||4.7|
|Enriched cold cereal***||30 g||4.5|
|Dark red kidney beans, cooked||175 mL (3/4 cup)||3.9|
|Blackstrap molasses||15 mL (1 tbsp)||3.6|
|Instant enriched hot cereal***||175 mL (3/4 cup)||3.4|
|Spinach, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||3.4|
|Refried beans, canned||175 mL (3/4 cup)||2.7|
|Edamame, green soybeans, cooked and shelled||125 mL (1/2 cup)||2.4|
|Medium firm or firm tofu||150 g (3/4 cup)||2.4|
|Tahini (sesame seed butter)||30 mL (2 tbsp)||2.3|
|Chickpeas, canned||175 mL (3/4 cup)||2.2|
|Lima beans, boiled||125 mL (1/2 cup)||2.2|
|Swiss chard, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||2.1|
|Potato, baked with skin||1 medium||1.9|
|Seaweed, agar (dried)||8 g (1/2 cup)||1.7|
|Prune puree||60 mL (1/4 cup)||1.7|
|Beet greens, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||1.5|
|Quinoa, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||1.5|
|Green peas, boiled||125 mL (1/2 cup)||1.3|
|Quick or large flake oats, prepared||175 mL (3/4 cup)||1.3|
|Hummus||60 mL (1/4 cup)||1.2|
|Sunflower seeds/ kernels, dry roasted||60 mL (1/4 cup)||1.2|
|Tomato sauce, canned||125 mL (1/2 cup)||1.2|
|Pearled barley, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||1.1|
|Sauerkraut||125 mL (1/2 cup)||1.1|
|Fortified soy beverage||250 mL (1 cup)||1.1|
|Fancy molasses||15 mL (1 tbsp)||1.0|
|Shredded wheat***||30 g||1.0|
|Spinach, raw||250 mL (1 cup)||0.9|
|Whole wheat bread||35 g (1 slice)||0.9|
|Whole wheat pasta, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||0.8|
|Beets, sliced, boiled||125 mL (1/2 cup)||0.7|
g = gram, mg = milligram, mL = milliliter, tbsp = tablespoon
***Iron amounts in enriched and prepared foods vary. Check the nutrition label for more information. By 2022, all labels will list the amount of iron in milligrams. Until then, some labels will only list the iron as a percent daily value (%DV). The daily value used is 14 mg (or 7 mg for infant cereals). For example, if a serving of cereal has 25% of the daily value, it has 3.5 mg of iron (0.25 x 14 mg).
Note: Most of the iron values in the above tables come from the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF). If more than one entry for that food item was available in the CNF, an average of the entries was taken.
For More Information
For more nutrition information, call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian.