Potatoes are high in iron. Raw peeled potatoes have only 0.4 mg of iron per 100g. But eating a serving of baked potatoes with the skin or French fries provides up to 9% of the recommended daily intake!
How much iron do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men and women older than 51 years. Women of reproductive age require much higher doses due to menstruation period. Also, pregnant women require 27 mg of iron a day.
In fact, it may be challenging for women to get the recommended dose of iron. Hence, many women may benefit from taking iron supplements. We shouldn’t get more iron than the maximum safe dose, though. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.
Are potatoes high in iron?
Potatoes are excellent dietary sources of iron. Raw peeled potatoes contain between 0.3 and 0.4 mg of iron per 100g, depending on the variety. This dose is about 2% of the Daily Value. Common potato varieties are gold, russet, and red. They contain 0.37, 0.38, and 0.39 mg of iron per 100g, respectively.
How to eat potatoes to get more iron?
However, the iron content of potatoes depends on the cooking method. Baked potatoes with the skin have the highest iron content.
Eat potatoes with the skin
First, you should eat potatoes with the skin, as it’s particularly high in iron. Actually, the skin of potato is the most nutrient-dense part. Not only is it the richest part of potato in iron, but also it’s packed with potassium, vitamin C, and fiber!
Raw potato skin has 3.24 mg of iron per 100g. It contains 8 times more iron than potato flesh!
In fact, raw potatoes with the skin have 0.81 mg of iron per 100g. In other words, you consume 2 times more iron when you eat potatoes with the skin!
But, you should only buy organic potatoes if you don’t peel them. Potatoes are among the most contaminated crops with chemicals. They have high pesticide residues in their skin.
How to cook potatoes to consume more iron?
You can boil, steam, bake, roast, microwave or deep-fry potatoes. Each cooking method affects the iron content of potato.
Boiled & steamed
Peeled boiled potatoes have on average 0.34 mg of iron per 100g. A cup provides 0.54 mg of iron, or 3% of the DV.
Boiling potatoes significantly decreases the iron content. Especially if you peel them and cut them into pieces. Iron, as well as other minerals, leaches into the water. Boiled potatoes may lose up to 75% of certain nutrients!
So, it’s better to boil whole potatoes with the skin in order to preserve most iron. Also, you could steam them. When steamed, less iron leaches into the water.
Moreover, eating potato salad contributes to the daily iron intake. Potato salad has 0.65 mg of iron per 100g. A cup provides 1.62 mg of iron. This dose is 9% of the DV.
Baked, roasted & microwaved
Baked, roasted, or microwaved have a much higher iron content as compared to boiled potatoes. They preserve most iron.
For instance, baked potatoes with the skin have about 1.1 mg of iron per 100g. A large potato provides 3.2 mg of iron, or 18% of the DV! A serving provides 1.6 mg of iron, or 9% of the recommended daily intake!
Roasted and microwaved potatoes have a similar iron content to baked potatoes.
French fries & potato chips
Actually, eating French fries could help us meet our daily needs of iron. French fries have about 0.64 mg of iron per 100g.
A small cup of French fries provides 0.38 mg of iron. This dose is 2% of the DV. A large serving of French fries provides about 1 mg of iron, which is almost 6% of the DV.
Potato chips are also excellent natural sources of iron! Potato chips contain about 1.2 mg of iron per 100g. A small cup provides 0.3 mg of iron (less than 2% DV), while a large serving bag provides 1 mg of iron (5.5% DV).
Keep in mind that you should eat French fries and potato chips in moderation, as they have many calories. For instance, French fries have twice as many calories as baked potatoes. Potatoes chips have 5 times more calories than baked potatoes! These extra calories come from vegetable oils, which are calorie-dense foods! Just a tbsp of any vegetable oil has 125 calories.
Are other potato products high in iron?
Potato flour is a great dietary source of iron. It has 12 mg of iron per 100g.
Hence, potato bread has about 2.25 of iron per 100g. A large slice provides 0.97 mg of iron, or 5% of the DV. For comparison, whole wheat bread has 3.6 mg of iron per 100g.
Moreover, potato pancakes have 1.67 mg of iron per 100g. A medium potato pancake provides 0.62 mg of iron, or 3% of the recommended daily intake.
Potato soup also has about 0.93 mg of iron per serving.
Other common foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole cereals (e.g. oatmeal), beans, seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds), nuts, some fruits and vegetables, as well as dark chocolate!
Moreover, the easiest way to boost your daily iron intake is by drinking certain fruit juices!
Health benefits of iron
Iron is vital for good health. It’s a key component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Iron supports muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue. Also, it’s crucial for energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[4,5]
Although iron is vital for our health, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide! It may lead to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.