Iron is one of the essential minerals needed by our bodies daily. Not only does it help improve cognitive function, but it is also crucial for pregnant women and growing children. A lack of iron can lead to anemia, fatigue, dizziness, and even pale skin. While supplements can help address this issue, getting your iron from food is the best and safest.
Fortunately, from dates to spinach to eggs, plenty of iron-rich foods are available in India that are very common and can be included in your diet.
But before we get to the list, let’s learn some Iron basics.
Importance of Iron in your diet
While Vitamin D and Iodine deficiency have improved over the years in India, Anemia remains the most common form of micronutrient deficiency.
According to a health survey, 53% of adult women and 23% of adult men in India are anemic. In fact, more than 25% of the global population suffers from iron deficiency, making it the most common deficiency.
Here are several reasons why iron is an important part of your diet.
- It helps to produce red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
- Hormone production.
- Play’s a vital role during pregnancy.
- Necessary for child’s proper growth and development.
- Improve your energy levels and cognitive function.
- Boost the immune system.
The body does not produce iron, so it becomes crucial to obtain it from food. Here are 30 healthiest iron-rich foods available in India.
30 Healthy Iron Rich Foods In India
Iron content: 3.3mg per 100 grams
Olive is a fruit that is typically green or black in color. It is grown all over the world and is used in both food and medicine.
It is one of the best Iron-rich foods that you can find in India. A single 100 grams serving of olives provides about 33% of the daily value.
Olive is commonly used to make oil, but they can also be eaten whole in salads or used in cooking.
Iron content: 2.8mg per 100 grams
Tamarind is a fruit that is used in cuisines all over the world. It is green when unripe and turns a deep red when ripe. The pulp is sour and acidic. It can be found in powder form, paste form, or as a whole fruit. It has a unique flavor that can add complexity to dishes.
Furthermore, it’s a great source of iron that you can include in your diet as a flavoring and thickener.
Iron content: 1.9mg per 100 grams
Mulberry is an antioxidant-rich superfood native to India. The fruit is small and dark, with a tart and slightly sweet flavor. It has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.
Apart from being a great source of antioxidants, mulberry is also high in fiber, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients for your body.
In addition, it’s a great source of iron, providing you with about 19% of the daily value. You can enjoy it as fresh fruit or use it in porridge and salads.
Iron content: 1mg per 100 grams
Date is a sweet, brownish fruit often eaten as a desert. It’s a good source of iron and healthy addition to your diet.
Apart from iron, it’s also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6.
You can include it as a salad or blend it with a banana smoothie in your diet.
Iron content: 0.8mg per 100 grams
The sapota fruit, also known as the sapodilla, is a tropical fruit that originated in Mexico. It is a brownish color, and it has a smooth texture and sweet and nutty flavor.
It is a good source of Vitamin A, C, B6, and potassium. In addition, it’s a great source of iron, which can help you improve your vision and boost your immune system.
Other fruits include:
- Watermelon: 0.2mg
- Pomegranate: 0.3mg
- Strawberries: 0.4mg
- Apricots: 0.4mg
- Avocados: 0.6mg
- Custard apple: 0.6mg
Iron content: 2.5mg per 100 grams
Spinach is one of the most common and nutrient-rich vegetables that you can find in India. It is an excellent source of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, K, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.
It is also a good source of fiber and contains antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage.
The most common way to eat spinach is in the form of sabji. However, you can also add it to salads, blend into shakes, or stir into soups.
Fenugreek leaves (Methi)
Iron content: 2mg per 100 grams
Fenugreek leaves are the leaves of the Fenugreek plant. These are green leafy vegetables consumed mainly in the Indian subcontinent.
The leaves are high in dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants that help prevent many diseases.
From blood sugar control to blood production, fenugreek leaves have many benefits, making it must to include in your diet.
Iron content: 1.5mg per 100 grams
Peas are a type of legume often eaten as vegetables in India. They are small, green, and typically round in shape.
Apart from being a good source of iron, peas are a good source of vitamin C, E, zinc, and antioxidants that helps to boost your immune system.
Peas are slightly sweet in flavor and can be eaten fresh or cooked. They are also used in soups, stews, and other dishes.
Capsicum (Shimla mirch)
Iron content: 1.2mg per 100 grams
Capsicum is a type of pepper used as both a spice and a vegetable. It is available in many colors, including green, yellow, red, orange, and purple. Green capsicum is the most common variety used in Indian cuisine.
It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and has been used to treat conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.
You can include capsicum as raw in your diet or use it in various recipes such as noodles, pulao, or curries.
Iron content: 1mg per 100 grams
Beetroot is a reddish-purple vegetable with a long, white, tapered root. It is also known as the red beet or the table beet.
People in India recommend eating chukundar to increase your blood flow. This is because beetroot is high in iron and other nutrients such as fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and antioxidants.
It is commonly used to make a dish called chukandar ki sabzi, which is a mix of beetroot, tomatoes, and spices. However, many people also love to include it in salads.
Other vegetables include:
- Mushroom: 0.5
- Bitter gourd: 0.43mg
- Cabbage: 0.5mg
- Green beans: 1mg
- Lady finger: 0.6mg
- Pumpkin: 0.8mg
- Potato: 0.8mg
Iron-rich nuts and seeds
Iron content: 7.7mg per 100 grams
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to the mint family.
These seeds are one of India’s richest sources of iron-rich foods. 100 grams serving of chia seeds contain 77% of the daily iron value.
These seeds are known for many potential health benefits, including weight loss, diabetes prevention, and improved heart health.
To incorporate these seeds into your diet, eat them raw or add them to smoothies, salad dressings, or as a topping on salads. You can also soak chia seeds in milk overnight and drink the milk in the morning.
Iron content: 7.6mg per 100 grams
Amaranth grain is a pseudo-grain and is not actually a cereal grain. It is a highly nutritious food that has been consumed for thousands of years.
It is a gluten-free grain that is high in fiber and protein. It’s also a good source of iron, providing 76% of the daily value.
It has a nutty flavour and can be used in a variety of ways, such as adding it to smoothies or mixing it into soups or stews to thicken them.
Iron content: 6.7mg per 100 grams
Cashews are a type of nut that grows on the cashew tree. They are an excellent source of protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, minerals (including copper, magnesium, and zinc), and vitamins (especially vitamin K).
In addition to all these nutrients, cashews are the rich source of iron in the nut family, with 67% of the daily value.
Here are some ways to include cashews in your diet:
- Add them to your breakfast oatmeal or cereal
- Include them in your lunchtime salad
- Use them as your afternoon snack with other nuts
- Add them to your dinner stir-fry or curry
Flaxseeds (Alsi ke beej)
Iron content: 5.7mg per 100 grams
Flaxseeds, popularly known as ‘Alsi ke beej,’ are flax plants’ seeds. These seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats(omega-3).
Eating flaxseeds has a number of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and improving heart health.
These seeds can be eaten on their own, added to smoothies, or sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt.
Pine nuts (Chilgoza)
Iron content: 5.5mg per 100 grams
Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine trees. They are small, cone-shaped nuts that grow in clusters on the branches of pine trees. These nuts have a sweet, nutty flavor and are a good protein and healthy fats source.
In addition, they are a great source of iron, providing more than 50% of the daily value.
Here are some tips for adding pine nuts to your diet:
- Add them to your breakfast oatmeal or yogurt
- Sprinkle them on top of salads or stir-fries
- Use them to make homemade granola or trail mix
- You can add them to various sweet dishes and recipes
Other nuts and seeds include:
- Sunflower seeds: 5.3mg
- Hazelnuts: 4.7mg
- Peanuts: 4.6 mg
- Pistachios: 4mg
It’s important to note that the legumes’ iron content given below is of raw legumes. Keep in mind that the amount of iron present may change when the legumes are cooked or boiled. Also, the iron content of legumes can vary from brand to brand.
Moth beans (Matki)
Iron content: 10.9mg per 100 grams
Moth beans are a type of legume and one of the most iron-rich foods in India, with a 100-gram meal delivering more than 100% of the daily intake.
They are also a good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc. They have a number of potential health benefits, including improved heart health, blood sugar control, and weight loss.
Moth beans are most commonly used in India and other parts of Asia. They are often cooked with rice or other grains to make a complete protein meal. Also, they can be ground into flour and used to make breads, pastas, and other dishes.
Kidney beans (Rajma)
Iron content: 8.2mg per 100 grams
Kidney beans or Rajma is a popular part of Indian cuisine. It is a type of legume, light red or white in color, and has a kidney-shaped appearance.
It is often consumed with rice or chapati and is an excellent addition to your diet because of its high protein and iron content.
Black gram (Urad dal)
Iron content: 7.2mg per 100 grams
Black gram is a legume that has been consumed in India for over 4,000 years due to its delicious taste and high nutritional value.
It is grown in many parts of the world but is most popular in India. A 100 grams uncooked black gram provides 72% of the daily iron value.
There are many ways in which you can include it in your diet. It is often boiled and then ground into a paste to make dal. It is also sprouted and used in salads or cooked with rice and spices to make a complete meal.
Horsegram (Kulthi dal)
Iron content: 7mg per 100 grams
Horsegram, also known as Kulthi in Hindi, is a small, reddish-brown legume popular in India. It has a high nutritional value and is a good source of protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Being a good source of iron, horse gram can be used to prevent anemia and other iron deficiency problems. It provides 70% of the daily value in just 100 grams of serving.
You can use it in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. It can be boiled and eaten as a simple dish or added to soup, curries, khichdi, or upma.
Chickpeas (Kabuli chana)
Iron content: 6.2mg per 100 grams
Kabuli chana is a type of chickpea that is light in color. It is a popular pulse crop in India and is used in a variety of dishes.
It’s a great source of essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium for your body.
It is used in many Indian dishes, such as chole (a type of curry), kababs, pulaos, and salads. It can also be boiled and eaten as a snack.
Other legumes include:
- Pink lentil (Masoor dal): 5.7mg
- Pigeon pea (Arhar dal): 5.2mg
- Pinto beans: 5.1mg
Iron-rich whole grains
Barnyard millet (Sanwa)
Iron content: 18.6mg per 100 grams
Barnyard millet is a type of millet that is commonly grown in India. It is a small, round grain that is often white or light brown in color.
It is the richest source of iron that you can find in India. Some varieties of barnyard millet contain upto 18mg of iron per 100 grams, that’s about 180% of the daily value.
It has been used in India for centuries as food grain and medicine due to its many health benefits.
There are plenty of ways to include this grain in your diet. You can use it to make khichdi, Upma, Kheer, and dosa.
Oats are gaining immense popularity in India, with people consuming them as breakfast cereals. These are high in fiber, low in fat, and naturally gluten-free. These are also a good source of protein and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron.
The iron content of oats can vary based on different brands, from 2 to 20 grams, but overall, oats are great for combating iron deficiency problems.
Oats can be consumed in various ways. They can be boiled to make a porridge or oatmeal or ground into flour to make breads, pancakes, and other dishes. They can also be consumed as a drink by blending them with milk, yogurt, or fruit juice.
Brown bread is a type of bread made from whole grain flour. It is often darker in color than white bread and has a more dense texture. It is a good source of protein, fiber, and other essential minerals for your body.
On average, a single loaf of brown bread produced entirely of whole grains delivered upto 1mg of iron, or about 10% of the daily need.
Iron content: 3.6mg per 100 grams
Barley, popularly known as ‘Jau,’ is another popular cereal grain available in India. It is rich in many beneficial nutrients such as fiber, protein, selenium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.
From promoting weight loss to fighting anemia-related conditions, barley has so many benefits, making it a must to include in one’s diet.
It can be eaten as a breakfast cereal, added to soups, or ground into flour to make chapati.
Quinoa is a pseudocereal, meaning that it is not an actual cereal grain like wheat, barley, or rye, but it is used similarly.
It is a gluten-free grain high in protein, fiber, and iron. The amount of iron in quinoa can vary based on the brand to brand. However, overall, quinoa is a very nutritious and one of the best iron-rich foods that you can find in India.
It can be used as a substitute for rice in dishes, or it can be eaten on its own as a side dish or breakfast cereal.
Other whole grains include:
- Whole wheat Dalia
Iron content: 5 to 7mg
Oysters are considered a delicacy in India and are often served at special occasions such as weddings and parties. These are not so common among people in India since many people don’t live near rivers.
But if you do find some Oysters, grab them! Because they’re a great source of iron. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, including steamed, fried, or cooked in a gravy.
Iron content: 2.2mg per 100 grams
Rohu is one of the most popular freshwater fish found in India. It is also known by many other names such as Rule, Riu, or Tapra.
It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and iron. A 100-grams serving of rohu fish provides around 20% of the daily value.
It is often consumed as grilled, steamed, soup, or fried.
Iron content: 1.3mg per 100 grams
Whether it’s chicken, chicken thighs, chicken breast, or chicken wings, all are a great source of iron for your body.
Your body more easily absorbs the iron found in meat or animals products than the iron found in plants. And this is the reason vegetarians or vegans need to eat more iron than those who eat meat.
Other non-veg includes:
- Tuna fish
- Red meat
How can you boost Iron absorption in your body?
By eating more vitamin C rich foods
You can improve your body’s absorption of iron by eating vitamin c rich foods at the same time when you eat iron-rich foods. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits such as oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and potatoes.
By avoiding foods that inhibit iron absorption
While there are plenty of iron-rich foods in India that can help you beat iron deficiency-related problems, several foods inhibit iron absorption in your body.
These foods include,
- calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, and milk
- Cocoa and caffeine
- foods high in phytates
Avoid these foods for at least 2 hours before or after your iron-rich meal.
To get your daily dose of iron, you don’t have to look any further than this list of foods. The 30 foods listed above are the best and healthiest iron-rich foods that you can find in India.
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can help prevent yourself from developing iron deficiency-related problems such as weakness, fatigue, and more.
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