Iron-Rich Foods That Can Boost Your Hemoglobin Levels

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

Do you want to become one of those superhuman type people who are always energetic, upbeat, have perfect hair and amazing stamina? Just keep your iron levels up!

Hemoglobin is that part of your blood that carries oxygen through the body. In order to keep your Hemoglobin levels in check, you should ensure adequate iron intake in your diet. Getting the right amount of iron through your diet needs some work in the beginning, but can be managed.

Before I get into foods that contain a good amount of iron there is some background information that you must have:

Vitamin C & Iron: Vitamin C increases the availability of Iron in your system. This means that in the presence of Vitamin C, you will be able to utilize/absorb a higher percentage of the iron that you consume. Vitamin C is found in abundance in:

  • Amla (Gooseberries)

  • Guava, especially Pink Guava

  • Drumstick Leaves

  • Agathi Leaves

  • Chillies

  • Karonda (Carissa Caranda)

  • Citrus Fruits

  • Hibiscus Tea

  • Bell Peppers - Red, Green, Yellow

There are certain substances that hinder Iron absorption within the body. These substances are:

Phytic Acid - Found in Legumes, Wholegrains, Nuts, Wheat Bran. Consume such foods along with Vitamin C in order to counteract the effect of phytic acid in these foods.

Oxalic Acid - Found in Raw Spinach and Chocolate.

Polyphenols and Tannins - Found in Tea and Coffee. Do not consume these along with a meal. Just ensure a 1.5-2 hour gap between your meals and tea or coffee.

Calcium - Calcium and Iron compete for absorption inside the intestines. As a rule, always avoid taking iron or calcium supplements with meals.

There are two types of Iron: Heme and Non-Heme.

Heme gets absorbed more easily as compared to the latter. Now I do have a list of foods that are rich in Iron as a whole. What you do need to kind of keep in mind, is that most animal sources are Heme Iron and better absorbed. Most plant sources need to be consumed with Vitamin C and in the absence of the above mentioned hindering foods. Although, this is not a hard and fast rule, I find this to be a simpler way of remembering the underlying concept.

And now, here is a list of locally grown, Indian foods that are fantastic for improving your Iron and hence Hemoglobin levels!

  1. Sesame Seeds or Til

  2. Amaranth Seeds or Rajgira

  3. Pearl Millet or Bajra

  4. Ragi or Nachni

  5. Rice Flakes or Poha

  6. Eggs, especially Egg Yolk

  7. Puffed Rice or Murmura

  8. Whole Bengal Gram or Red Chana

  9. Whole Black Gram or Urad

  10. Horse Gram or Kulthi

  11. Whole Lentil or Masoor

  12. Red Amaranth Seeds

  13. Red Meats

  14. Fenugreek Leaves or Methi

  15. Drumsticks

  16. Gogu Leaves

  17. Dried Dates

  18. Golden Raisins

  19. Curry Leaves

  20. Mint Leaves

  21. Turmeric, powder and root

  22. Almonds

  23. Garden Cress Seeds or Halim

  24. Sunflower Seeds

  25. Kidney Beans

This list, although extensive, is tough to incorporate in our daily life. Some of the easiest ways of incorporating iron-rich foods into your lifestyle are:

  • Soak half a spoon of the Garden Cress Seeds overnight. In the morning, add these seeds to 1/2 a cup of chilled cow's milk and drink.

  • Make a seed mix with the above-mentioned oilseeds and keep it on your work desk. A spoonful of this mix is good enough.

  • Take any of the mentioned green leafy vegetables and simply saute it with garlic and green chillies. You can eat this along with either of your meals.

  • Opt for whole pulses and legumes instead of split and polished dals

  • Eat 2 Dates and a few Golden Raisins post workout. This will give you a fantastic energy boost and takes care of your Iron needs.

  • Add curry leaves and mint to your green chutney or to your buttermilk.

You should also read my article on Iron Deficiency amongst Women. This will give you a better understanding of the subject.