Iron is an important mineral that serves a number of essential functions. Our body can’t produce it on its own. So, what are the 10 best natural sources of iron?February 15, 2023 2:51 pm February 15, 2023 1:00 pm
What is iron?
Firstly, let’s discuss what iron is. Iron is a naturally present mineral in many foods. You might say that iron is specifically significant due to its ability to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, thus helping to maintain healthy blood.
This is because iron is a major component of hemoglobin, a type of protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from our lungs to all parts of our body. Iron is also part of myoglobin, a protein that plays the role of carrying and storing oxygen specifically in muscle tissues. As a result, iron supports muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissues, physical growth, neurological development, cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones.(1)
You can find dietary iron in two forms: heme and non-heme. While heme iron is only found in animal flesh such as meat, poultry and seafood, you can find non-heme iron in animal flesh and plant foods. These sources of iron include whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens; which tend to be the type of plant foods animals consume.
Before jumping into the 10 best natural sources of iron, we’re going to briefly go over why it’s so important to not neglect our iron intake.
What is iron deficiency?
Anemia is a blood condition distinguished by a lack of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron to produce the hemoglobin it needs.
This condition is caused by the following:
- Poor diet or not enough iron in the diet
- Blood loss
- A decreased ability to absorb iron
Around 10 million people in the United States have low iron levels, and roughly 5 million of these have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia.(2) It is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, causing extreme fatigue and lightheadedness. It affects all ages and people receiving kidney dialysis among those at highest risk for this condition.
Iron is stored in the liver, spleen, muscle tissue, and bone marrow and is delivered throughout the body by a protein in blood that binds to iron. Therefore, a doctor may sometimes check blood levels of these two components if anemia is suspected.
So, what are some of the best sources of iron?
Generally speaking, nuts contain quite a bit of non-heme iron. In particular, almonds boast an impressive nutrient profile, including iron. They contain 3.7mg of iron per 100g, or one fifth of the daily value (DV).
Our Organic Italian Almonds are perfect on their own as a snack, or as part of a meal. It’s as easy as grabbing a handful as a healthy snack or sprinkling over salads, breakfast bowls, desserts and pasta dishes.