Consuming certain fruits rich in iron, such as goji berries and raisins, could significantly increase your daily iron intake. Most fruits contain only negligible amounts of iron. Dried fruits have a much higher iron content, though.
How much iron do we need a day?
Most people need about 8-18 mg of iron daily.
Actually, our iron needs depend on age and sex:
- kids need about 7-11 mg of iron per day.
- women have much higher demands. They require about 18 mg of iron a day. Pregnant women require even more.
- men and elderly people need only 8 mg per day.
As a rule of thumb, healthy people better get iron from food, instead of supplements. We can get too much iron from supplements.
Common fruits high in iron
The richest fruits in iron are (mg per 100g):
- goji berries (6.43 mg)
- raisins (2.59 -3.1 mg)
- prunes (1.12 mg)
- currants (1 mg)
- raspberries (0.76 mg)
- blackberries (0.62 mg)
- lemon (0.6 mg)
- avocado (0.55 mg)
- cherries (0.53 mg)
- strawberries (0.41 mg)
Actually, prune and raspberry juices are the richest beverages in iron!
Other fruits with decent amounts of iron are:
- apricots (0.39 mg)
- figs (0.37 mg)
- grapes (0.36 mg)
- kiwi (0.31 mg)
- pomegranates (0.3 mg)
- blueberries (0.28 mg)
- banana (0.26 mg)
- peaches (0.25 mg)
- watermelon (0.24 mg)
- cranberries (0.23 mg)
Other more tropical fruits with some iron are:
- durian (0.43 mg)
- pineapple (0.29 mg)
- papaya (0.25 mg)
- mango (0.16 mg)
- dragonfruit (0.15 mg)
Goji berries are the richest fruit in iron. Just a tbsp of dried goji berries contains 1.9 mg of iron, or more than 10% of the recommended daily intake! Moreover, goji berries are particularly rich in calcium. They contain more calcium than cow’s milk per 100g!
Other common fruits such as apples (0.13 mg), oranges (0.1 mg), grapefruits (0.09 mg), mandarin oranges (0.15 mg), or pears (0.18 mg) don’t have any significant iron content.
Dried fruits have a high iron content
Dried fruits contain much more iron than fresh fruits. Goji berries are the richest common dried fruits in iron. However, raisins, prunes, figs. currants, and dates can help us meet our daily needs.
Whenever possible, prefer uncooked dried fruits. They contain much more iron than cooked dried fruits. For instance, stewed figs contain only 0.88 mg per 100g. Uncooked dried figs contain 130% more iron! Furthermore, cooked foods may inhibit iron absorption.
How to absorb more iron from fruits?
Above all, vitamin C is key for iron absorption. Vegans and people who follow a plant-based diet should get high doses of vitamin C. Vitamin C significantly improves the absorption of non-heme iron. The type of iron which is naturally present in plants.
Fruits and vegetables are the best dietary sources of vitamin C.
Moreover, you should avoid drinking tea, coffee, and red wine when you consume foods rich in iron. These beverages are pretty high in polyphenols, which inhibit iron absorption. Actually, they can reduce iron absorption up to 83%.
Also, you should avoid consuming foods rich in calcium, like milk and dairy, when you eat iron-rich foods. Calcium inhibits iron absorption as well.
Actually, common foods rich in iron are fortified cereals, beans, dark chocolate, lentils, spinach, tofu, beets, chickpeas, tomatoes, potatoes, cashew nuts, green peas, rice, whole-grain bread, pistachio nuts, and broccoli.
Last, but not least, although honey has negligible amounts of iron, it might increase iron levels by 20%.